Follow the step by step process or choose what situation that best describes you:
The American Bar Association (ABA) reports that in 2011, there were 20,585 resident and active attorneys practicing in the state of Connecticut. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that as of 2009, there were 2401 law offices across the state, with the majority of them employing between one and four people. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational and Wage Estimates for May 2011 reports that Connecticut lawyers averaged a mean annual salary of $145,960, putting them in the top four percent of pay rates for lawyers across the country. Lawyers working in the Danbury make an even higher average annual salary, at $174,540. To learn how to join the ranks of Connecticut attorneys and become one of them, read on.
The Connecticut Bar Examining Committee does not mandate undergraduate pre-legal education for those who want to be lawyers in the state. You must, however, graduate from an American Bar Association-accredited (ABA-accredited) law school. In order to get into an ABA-approved law school, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree as your undergraduate education.
Your undergraduate college degree must be from an accredited institution. Accreditation by a regional or national agency verified by the U.S. Department of Education is usually sufficient to meet the requirements of ABA-approved law schools.
Requirements and Standards
Because the ABA does not set requirements on undergraduate education, besides obtaining at least a bachelor’s degree, you have much leeway when it comes to the coursework, majors and minors you choose. However, there are some fields and courses that are optimally recommended for those who plan to study law in the future. These include:
If you select your major from one of the above-mentioned fields, you will be more likely to succeed in law school. The ABA does not mandate one major over another when it comes to your undergraduate degree.
After graduating with your undergraduate degree, you must pass the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test, in order to get into an ABA-approved law school. The six-hour test is given four times annually around the world.
How to prepare
Sample questions with explanations and practice tests are available for free at the LSAT website and can help you prepare to take this important exam. If you wish to take LSAT preparation courses, check out the following options in the Connecticut area:
LSAT Exam Prep Courses in Connecticut:
This is what you can expect to encounter on the LSAT:
Applications for the LSAT are processed online. You must pay a fee of $160 to take the LSAT (online via credit card or by mail via check or money order to Law School Admission Council). The test is offered twice a week in December, February, June and October. Listed below are LSAT Test Centers in Connecticut:
Receiving Your Score
LSAT scores are mailed to you by the LSAC about three weeks after you take the exam. The lowest score you can possibly receive is 120, and the highest is 180. Average LSAT scores for students who are accepted by the following Connecticut law schools are:
|University of Connecticut Law School:||159|
|Quinnipiac University School of Law:||157|
The Connecticut Bar Examining Committee requires that you graduate from a law school which it has approved. Mainly these consist of ABA-approved law schools, but there are two exceptions, listed below. Go here for a clickable map that will show you all 200 ABA-approved law schools throughout the country. The Bar Examining Committee only specifies that you must graduate from an ABA-approved law school in the United States – it need not be in Connecticut.
Credential Assembly Service
If you are applying to an ABA-approved law school, you must use the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service . This service helps you gather transcripts from all institutions you have attended, recommendation letters, and online evaluations. It also processes your electronic enrollment applications to the ABA-approved law schools of your choice. You must pay the LSAC a fee of $155 for this valuable service. It is payable online through your LSAC account (created when you registered for the LSAT).
The Connecticut Bar Examining Committee requires that you graduate from a school which it has approved. All ABA-accredited law schools in the United States fall into this category. The Committee has also approved the following two neighboring non-ABA accredited law schools and will accept graduates from these schools for admission to the Connecticut bar:
ABA-Accredited Law Schools in Connecticut
Law schools that are ABA-accredited in Connecticut are:
Online Law Degrees
Committee-approved law schools will offer course work surrounding the following fields in a curriculum:
It must take you at least 24 months, but no longer than 84 months, to obtain your Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree, per rules of the ABA. This entails completion of 83 semester hours or 129 quarter hours of college credit.
Committee-approved law schools will offer (and often require) you the opportunity to participate in real-world lawyering internships. These may be in the form of in-house legal clinics, working with non-profit organizations, externship clinics in government and law offices, or even spending a semester working in Washington, D.C. While enrolled in a clinic, you will be engaging in real legal practice, including interviewing and counseling clients; researching the law and formulating case strategies; appearing before courts and agencies in trials; and negotiating agreements. Feedback and training will be provided. These clinic and internship situations will help you to hone the skills that are necessary to run a successful law practice.
The Connecticut Bar Examining Committee requires that you earn a J.D. degree prior to admission to the bar. Other degree options that increase your career opportunities include certificates and dual degree programs, such as:
After graduating with your J.D. degree from a Committee-approved law school, you may apply to take the Connecticut Bar Examination. Download the Application for Admission to Practice as an Attorney in Connecticut by Examination.
The Connecticut Bar Examining Committee makes available booklets of sample questions and answers from recent state bar exams. They may be purchased here. Additionally, sample essay questions from past examinations are listed here. If you would like to take a bar exam prep course, these options are available to you:
You may also find study information and resources for the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) and Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) portions of the Connecticut bar exam at the National Conference of Bar Examiners website.
The Connecticut bar exam is given over two days each February and July. Exam sites are located in Hartford and Waterbury. The format is as follows:
Download the Application for Admission to Practice as an Attorney in Connecticut by Examination. The filing deadline for the July exam is April 30, and for the February exam, November 30. The fee to take the bar exam is $600. When filling out the application, remember to:
The results of your bar exam will be mailed to you about nine weeks post-exam, and will also be posted on the Internet. Results of past Connecticut bar exams are as follows, according to the Committee:
|Bar Exam Date||Overall Pass Rate|
Additionally, for the February 2012 administration of the bar exam, the following pass rates apply for graduates of the following Committee-approved law schools:
|Law School||Pass Rate|
|University of Connecticut School of Law||67%|
|Quinnipiac School of Law||54%|
|Yale University School of Law||100%|
|University of Massachusetts School of Law – Dartmouth||3%|
|Massachusetts School of Law||48%|
Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)
No more than four years before but no later than one year after you pass the Connecticut bar exam, you must also pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) with a scaled score of 80 or more. It is offered each March, August and November, in Bridgeport, West Hartford, and West Haven. Use the link above for more information or to apply to take the MPRE.
In lieu of passing the MPRE, you may take a Committee-approved continuing legal education course in professional responsibility and pass it with a grade of C or better.
Admission Without Examination
If you wish to apply for admission to the Connecticut bar without taking the bar exam, you must meet these requirements:
As of 2012, jurisdictions that are reciprocal with Connecticut are:
AL, AK, AR, CO, DC, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NY, NH, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI
If you meet these requirements, complete the Application for Admission to Practice as an Attorney in Connecticut. Return it and the $1800 fee, plus supporting documents proving your good standing as an attorney in another jurisdiction, to: Connecticut Bar Examining Committee, Motion Application Department, 100 Washington St, Hartford, CT 06106-4411.
Admission for Law School Graduates of Non-ABA/Non-Committee Approved Schools
If you do not meet Connecticut’s educational requirements to take the bar exam, you may still be eligible for bar admission. You must meet all of the following conditions:
These conditions also apply to graduates of foreign law schools.
Licensing and Admission to the Bar
After passing the bar exam, you will be notified of instructions for admission to the bar. You will recite the following oath in a formal ceremony in which you are inducted into the Connecticut bar:
“You solemnly swear or solemnly and sincerely affirm, as the case may be, that you will do nothing dishonest, and will not knowingly allow anything dishonest to be done in court, and that you will inform the court of any dishonesty of which you have knowledge; that you will not knowingly maintain or assist in maintaining any cause of action that is false or unlawful; that you will not obstruct any cause of action for personal gain or malice; but that you will exercise the office of attorney, in any court in which you may practice, according to the best of your learning and judgment, faithfully, to both your client and the court; so help you God or upon penalty of perjury.”
Kudos to you for passing the Connecticut bar exam! The Bar Association is available to help you, as one of its newest members, as you begin your career as an attorney in Connecticut. You might want to refer to the 2016 Connecticut Practice Book from time to time as needed. This valuable legal resource details all of the rules, regulations and standards that Connecticut lawyers must follow. You should become familiar with this manual as it serves as a Bible for Connecticut attorneys.
The Bar also maintains a catalog of Pro Bono opportunities, should you wish to volunteer your time providing legal advice. Groups that offer lawyers the opportunity to work Pro Bono include (but are not limited to):
Job opportunities exist for lawyers statewide. You may opt to open your own practice, join an existing law firm, or work in the legal department of a company or corporation. Some of the most well known law firms in Connecticut include:
Companies in Connecticut that may hire attorneys include:
Legal specialty certification
You might want to become certified to practice in a specialty area of the law. The National Board of Legal Specialty Certification provides certification opportunities for qualified attorneys to specialize in civil, criminal, and family law; social security disability advocacy; and civil trial law advocacy. You must pass an examination to become certified. For more information, contact the Connecticut State Coordinator of the NBLSC, James Bartolini, at 860-522-1196 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, the Connecticut Bar Association offers certification in Workers’ Compensation for qualified attorneys. If you are interested in applying for this certification, the Notice of Intent to Apply for Certification will not be available until November 2013.
Requirements for maintaining license
Connecticut does not require its lawyers to fulfill Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) in order to maintain licensure.
Court Systems in Connecticut
There are four levels in the Connecticut Judicial Branch: Probate Court, Superior Court, Appellate Court, and Supreme Court.
Elective membership organizations
Now that you are a member of the Connecticut bar, think about joining one of these other elective professional membership associations for attorneys:
Lawyer Career Specialties
|CT Active Lawyers||20,585|
|Average Annual Wage||$145,960|