The State of Connecticut Judicial Branch Bar admitted 561 of 998 candidates (55.5%) in the past 2 years despite most candidates having 7 years of schooling. While the average annual attorney salary of $129,200 attracts many, the road to getting there is not for the faint of heart.
Let’s look at just how challenging the traditional route to becoming a lawyer is in Connecticut.
How much study is required to be eligible for the State Bar?
Undergraduate Pre-Law Major
To be eligible for the Connecticut Bar you don’t officially need an undergraduate degree. However, it may as well be mandatory as you need it to get into almost every accredited law school in the country. In addition, your degree needs to be from an institution verified by the US Department of Education.
While no specific major is suggested by the ABA; certain subjects offer a better platform for pre-law than others.
On the list of recommended majors are:
- Political Science
- Psychology or Sociology
Each of the above major options improves a student’s chances of success in the LSATs and, later, the bar. The typical undergraduate degree takes approximately 4 years to complete and the higher the GPA, the more competitive the candidate. Between an undergraduate degree, extracurricular activities and a deep understanding of emerging technology and legal document software, a student needs to construct a well-rounded profile to attract top schools.
Law School Admissions Test (LSATS)
The LSATs are the first real step into the world of law for most aspiring professionals. It is a rigorous 6-hour test made up of 5 sections. Each one is designed to test your ability to:
– Logically reason and analyze statements for errors.
– Analytically and deductively analyze and solve puzzles.
– Read and respond to questions based on large passages of text.
– Experiment – These are questions the LSAC is basically trialing with this crop of lawyers for future LSATs.
– Write a sample essay.
A high score in the LSATs is extremely convincing for prestigious law schools and often the difference maker to most applicants. Ivy league tier schools such as Yale are known to select from the 98th percentile. In fact, 2019’s average successful applicant score was 173. Although you can sit the LSAT 3 times in any 2-year period, it is a staggeringly high grade and certainly provides a difficult challenge to all.
Progressing to Law School
From an experience perspective, law school is a significant challenge that must last at least 24 months according to the ABA. How challenging you will find it largely depends on your suitability. If you love the law and have an appetite for learning, achieving a 3-year Juris Doctor will be an enjoyable experience. If not, you could find yourself swimming against the current.
Anecdotally, the first year of law is considered the most difficult. You are subjected to the pressures of a demanding schedule whilst competing with 200+ hard-working individuals. You experience many subjects for the first time including Economics, Torts, International and Constitutional Law and more.
The highly attritional environment aims to produce the best lawyers who are primed for the bar and stresses of being a successful lawyer.
Passing the Uniform Bar Exam
Graduating with impressive grades does not automatically mean you will pass the bar. It simply makes you eligible for the final hurdle.
If you successfully satisfy the criteria of the 19-page application form 1E and submitting the fee of $800, you will be invited to sit the Uniform State Bar Exam.
The test, running twice a year, is broken into 3 major pieces:
Multistate Performance Test
– 2 x 90-minute cases where you need to demonstrate your ability to analyze the research provided and make a compelling case for a fictional client.
Multistate Essay Exam
– 6 x 30-minute essay questions where your ability to communicate effectively through legal writing is judged in several different areas of law.
Multistate Bar Exam
– 200 multiple choice questions on Constitutional and Criminal Law, Evidence, Contracts and Sales, Real Estate, and Torts.
Once you have sat the exam, you face an agonizing 9-week wait for the results to be mailed and uploaded to the Connecticut State Bar Committee site. However, the bar is not the end of your studies as you also are subjected to a character and fitness test and, later, to the MPRE.
The MPRE is the final stage carried out a year after passing the bar. The NCBE requires you to pass a 60 multiple choice question exam with a mark of at least 80. Fortunately, in Connecticut, this can be avoided by achieving extra credits in professional responsibility courses.
The journey to becoming an attorney looks quite daunting when laid out in full. It is 7 years of hard graft and full commitment in a highly competitive atmosphere. However, the difficulty is a matter of perspective and appetite.
Undoubtedly, the challenge of being successful is significant but graduating from Yale Law opens a world of prospects. There are 13,000 Yale Alumni who have forged extremely fruitful careers. 99% have reported job satisfaction 10 years into their careers while 48% have even clerked for a judge.
For those who are truly passionate, the ability to make an imprint on our societies is what awaits beyond the long study nights and research.