State By State Requirements to Become a Lawyer

Delaware Resources

General Resources

Law Exams

Lawyer Career Specialties

  Delaware Statistics:
 
DE Active Lawyers 2820
Average Annual Wage $151,290
Concord Law School

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Delaware Steps to become a Lawyer/Attorney

Follow the step by step process or choose what situation that best describes you:

  1. Find Delaware Undergraduate Pre-Law Schools
  2. Take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test)
  3. Apply to a Delaware Law School
  4. Take the Delaware State Bar Exam and Become an Attorney
  5. Now that You Passed the Delaware Bar

Delaware Lawyer Career Information

The American Bar Association reports that 2820 lawyers practiced in the state of Delaware in 2011. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that Delaware had the third highest concentration of attorneys of any state that year, as well as the third highest salary for attorneys in any state. The average lawyer in Delaware made a mean annual wage of $151,290. The Delaware State Bar Association is divided into sections according to the types of law practiced in the state. These include: alternative dispute resolution, bankruptcy law, commercial law, corporate counsel, corporation law, criminal law, e-discovery and technology law, elder law, environmental law, estates and trusts, family law, government and consumer law, health law, intellectual property, international law, labor and employment law, litigation, real and personal property, social security disability, taxation, torts and insurance practice, and worker’s compensation.  If you would like to become a practicing attorney and a member of the Delaware Bar, follow the steps outlined below.
 
Step 1

Get your Undergraduate Pre-Law Education in Delaware

The Board of Bar Examiners of the Supreme Court of Delaware, more commonly known as the Delaware Board of Bar Examiners, requires that you obtain at least a bachelor’s degree prior to taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and applying for admission to an American Bar Association-approved law school.  

Accreditation

In order to be accepted into an ABA-approved law school, your undergraduate college or university must be accredited by a national or regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Requirements and Standards

Delaware ABA-accredited law schools do not set any major or course requirements for undergraduate pre-law education, beyond the requirement that you obtain a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Some basic skills should be honed during your undergraduate studies to provide you with a solid foundation to begin law school. These include: 

  • Problem solving and analytical skills
  • Writing skills
  • Critical reading skills
  • Listening abilities
  • Oral communication skills
  • Research skills
  • Management skills
  • Organizational  skills
  • Ideas and methods to promote justice
  • Public service skills

Degree Options

The American Bar Association and the Delaware Board of Bar Examiners both mandate that you have at least a minimum of a bachelor’s degree prior to entering an ABA-accredited law school, but no majors or fields are specified. There are some majors that are more helpful than others are to a law student, however. Consider the following fields as being appropriate pre-law majors:

  • Political science
  • Politics and government
  • Economics
  • Business
  • Sociology
  • Psychology

Find Delaware campus and online undergraduate pre-law degree programs.


Pre-Law Advisor

Your undergraduate college or university might have a pre-law advisor on staff. If so, take advantage of this valuable resource. Your pre-law advisor will help to prepare you to be ready to take the LSAT and enter law school by recommending the best courses to complete and majors and minors to undertake.

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Step 2

LSAT (Law School Admission Test) in Delaware

The Delaware Board of Bar Examiners requires that you graduate from an ABA-approved law school before becoming a member of the Bar and being allowed to legally practice as an attorney in the state. All ABA-approved law schools require that you pass the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test, prior to gaining admission to law school.

How to prepare

The LSAT takes a half-day to complete and is offered four times yearly at testing locations worldwide. Much of what you will be tested on when taking the LSAT consists of common sense problem solving and analysis skills. There are ways to prepare for the LSAT, however, including using some free sample questions, practice tests and materials offered on the LSAT website. The website LSAT Exam Practice Tests also offers some valuable practice tests. Many institutions and organizations throughout Delaware also offer, for a fee, LSAT exam preparation courses, workshops and seminars.

LSAT Exam Prep Resources in Delaware:

Exam content

Three crucial skills that are the backbone of any lawyer’s success are measured when you take the LSAT. They include:  

  • Reading Comprehension – You must read a selection and answer questions on that selection. Information that may be asked of you includes the main idea of the selection, author’s purpose in writing the selection, principles of the selection, analogies to arguments found in the selection, and how to apply information found in the selection to a new context.
  • Analytical Reasoning – You must read passages and answer sets of questions about each passage. Deductive reasoning skills tested here include comprehension of basic relationships and their structure, reasoning with conditional statements, making inferences, and recognizing when two statements are logically equivalent.
  • Logical Reasoning – You must read a passage and answer a few questions about the passage. Skills tested here include recognizing parts of an argument and how they relate, drawing well-supported conclusions, reasoning by analogy, and identifying flaws in arguments.

Application process

Applications to sit for the LSAT are accepted online. The LSAT is given in the United States on Wednesdays and Saturdays in February, June, October and December. The application deadline is 30 to 40 days prior to the test date. Not all testing sites administer the LSAT on each date, so make sure to plan ahead. LSAT testing centers in Delaware include:

  • Delaware State University, 1200 N. Dupont Highway, Dover, DE 19901
  • University of Delaware, Career Services Center, 401 Academy St, Newark, DE 19716

Fees

The fee to sit for the LSAT in April 2012 is $160. You may pay this fee by check or money order, payable to the Law School Admission Council, or online via credit card.

Receiving Your Score

The LSAC will email your LSAT score to you about three weeks post-exam (if you have an account at LSAC.org, which you should from registering online). Those who do not have an LSAC.org account will receive their scores by mail about four weeks after taking the exam. The lowest possible LSAT score is 120, and the highest possible LSAT score is 180.
If, after taking the LSAT you wish to cancel your score, this may be done either on exam day or six days post-exam. There is a spot on your LSAT answer sheet where you may cancel your score on exam day. If you wish to cancel your LSAT score after taking the test, you may do so by submitting a request in writing no more than six days after taking the exam. Mail your request to Law School Admission Council, Score Cancellation, 662 Penn Street, PO BOX 2000-T, Newtown, PA 18940-0995 or by faxing it to 215-968-1277. The LSAC will send you an email confirmation when your LSAT score has been cancelled. Canceling your score will make sure that it is not reported to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).

Limitations

You may take the LSAT a maximum of three times in two years. This applies even if you cancel your LSAT score and it is not reported to the LSAC. Exceptions to this rule may be requested in writing, with the date you wish to re-take the LSAT. This request may be faxed to 215-968-1277 or emailed (as an attachment only) to LSACinfo@LSAC.org. The LSAC will notify you by email if they approve or deny your request.  

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Step 3

Find a Law School in Delaware

Application process

Once you have passed the LSAT, you are ready to take the next step in your quest to become a Delaware lawyer. In order to become a member of the Delaware Bar, you must graduate with your J.D. degree from an ABA-approved law school. The LSAC has an application service in which they will help organize your credentials and apply to ABA-approved law schools you wish to attend. Make sure of your prospective law school’s admission requirements by consulting this list that encompasses the credential and evaluations necessary in order to apply to each ABA-approved law school in the country.

Credential Assembly Service

ABA-approved law schools require that you take advantage of LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service. You must have already passed the LSAT and created an online account at LSAC.org in order to utilize this valuable service. Once you are ready, complete these steps:

  • Transcripts: Because LSAC will apply to law schools for you, you must ask all institutions that you have attended up to now to mail official transcripts directly to them at Law School Admission Council,662 Penn Street,PO BOX 2000-M,Newtown PA 18940-0993. The LSAC will not accept transcripts sent by prospective law school students – they must come directly from your institution. Any institution where you received credit must send transcripts to LSAC. These may include:
  • Community colleges
  • Undergraduate colleges and universities
  • Graduate colleges and universities
  • Medical, law, and/or professional institutions
  • Colleges/universities where you took evening or summer courses
  • Colleges/universities where you took courses but did not receive a degree
  • Colleges/universities where you took college-level courses while a high school student
  • Colleges/universities that sponsored you while you completed study overseas
  • International colleges or universities
  • If your degree if from an institution in another country (not including Canada or U.S. territories), your transcripts must be mailed to: Law School Admission Council, 662 Penn Street, PO BOX 8502, Newtown PA 18940-8502)
  • Letters of Recommendation and Evaluation Services: The LSAC will help compile and organize these for you. You must print recommendation forms from the LSAC website and give them to your recommenders, who will send them to LSAC. You must also submit your requests for evaluations online through the LSAC (who will contact your evaluators for you and obtain evaluations online).  Each school may have its own additional instructions, which you must follow as well. Information you must provide to the LSAC includes:
    • Names and contact information of your references/evaluators
    • Number of letters expected from each reference/evaluator and content in each
    • Which law schools you wish to apply to and which letters you wish sent to each school
  • Fee: The Credential Assembly Service costs $155, which pays for transcript summaries, creating law school reports, recommendation letter processing, evaluation processing, and submitting your application to ABA-approved law schools electronically. You may pay this fee online through your LSAC account. 

Accreditation

Under the rules of the Delaware Board of Bar Examiners, you must graduate from any ABA-accredited law school in the United States. This school does not need to be located in Delaware. There are presently 200 schools on the list of the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools. Methods that the ABA uses to approve each law school are listed under Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools.

ABA-Accredited Law Schools in Delaware

Just one Delaware law school currently holds the distinction of being ABA-accredited:

Course requirements

Under ABA Standard 302, your law school must require courses in these areas:

  • Substantive law
  • Reasoning and legal analysis
  • Problem solving
  • Legal research
  • Oral communication
  • Legal writing
  • Model Rules of Professional Conduct of the American Bar Association
  • The legal profession’s history, responsibilities, and goals
  • Other necessary professional skills
  • Clinical field placements, externships and pro-bono work or other live client interactions

The ABA mandates that one year in law school must be at least 130 days long over at least eight calendar months.
ABA rules specify that you complete 83 semester hours (129 quarter hours) of college credit in law school. This breaks down into 58,000 minutes of class time, with 45,000 of those minutes consisting of didactic courses taken at your law school.
Additionally, if you are taking more than 12 class hours per week, you are not allowed to be employed for over 20 hours per week under ABA rules.

The ABA acknowledges that it must take you at least 24 months to earn your J.D. degree but states that may not take you longer than 84 months to attain this law degree.

Online Law Degrees

Externship

An externship is a necessary and vital part of your law school experience. You must have finished at least one year of your law school’s J.D. program prior to beginning an externship. You will not be paid during this externship, which may occur in any legal setting. You will be evaluated by a member of your law school’s faculty who will conduct on-site visits during your externship. Other opportunities for you to practice your legal skills may be offered by your law school, including clinics on various types of law (such as environmental law, criminal defense and Veterans’ affairs), and pro bono volunteer activities in public interest and/or governmental agencies.

Clerkship

In addition to the externship required by your school, the Delaware Bar requires you to complete a five-month Clerkship prior to applying for Bar admission. This should consist of 21 40-hour workweeks, and may be in the areas of:

  • Law office/legal department, under supervision of an attorney who has been a member of the Bar for at least five years
  • Law clerk, working for a justice or judge of the United States or Delaware residing in Delaware
  • Public office (including the Department of Justice of the State of Delaware, the Office of the Public Defender of the State of Delaware, the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, the Office of the City Solicitor of the City of Wilmington, the Office of Community Legal Aid Society, Inc., the Office of Delaware Volunteer Legal Services, Inc. or in the office of a related organization approved by the Board

Degree Programs

You must receive a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree to be admitted to the Delaware Bar. Some law schools provide specialty education in special concentrations, such as government, health law, advocacy, technology, business organizations, environmental law, and criminal law. Your law school may also offer joint degree programs, combining your J.D. degree with another degree. These may include:

  • J.D./MBA – Juris Doctor combined with a Master’s in Business Administration – especially helpful if you plan to practice business or corporate law
  • J.D./Psy.D – Juris Doctor combined with a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology – helpful if you wish to specialize in trial competence, child custody, malpractice, and the insanity defense
  • J.D./MPH – Juris Doctor combined with a Master’s in Public Health – helpful if you plan to work as legal counsel to a medical or pharmaceutical organization
  • J.D./MSLS – Juris Doctor combined with a Master’s in Library Science – helps to prepare you for a career as a law librarian
  • J.D./MMP-Juris Doctor combined with a Master’s in Marine Policy – helpful if you plan to work on marine policy issues in the law

Law schools also commonly offer the following degrees if you do not plan to practice as a lawyer:
Non-J.D. Programs:

  • Masters of Jurisprudence in Health Law
  • Master of Laws in Corporate Law and Finance
  • Master of Laws in Health Law
  • Master of Jurisprudence Master of Public Health

If you already have your J.D. but wish to further your law education, the following degrees might be for you:

  • Doctor of Laws in Health Law
  • Doctor of Judicial Science in Health Law

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Step 4

Take the Delaware State Bar Exam and Become an Attorney

Once you have graduated with your J.D. degree from a law school approved by the ABA, have reached the age of 21, and have met additional requirements (see below), you are ready to apply to take the Delaware Bar Exam.  It is offered once a year (usually in July), over a two and one-half day period.

Preparation

Just as it was important to prepare for the LSAT, it is vital to have excellent preparation for the Delaware Bar Exam. The Widener Delaware Bar Review is one preparation course offered over a period of three months just prior to the exam. Contact (302) 477-2087 for details. Other Bar exam prep courses and resources in Delaware include:

  • MPT Online Review Course, conducted by Ameribar, for the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) part of the exam
  • MBE Review Course, conducted online by Legal Training Center, to prepare you for the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) portion of the exam
  • MPRE Review Course, Widener University School of Law, 4601 Concord Pike, PO Box 7474, Wilmington, DE 19803-0474, for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) which you will take after passing the Delaware Bar Exam (see below)

Exam content

You will take the Delaware Bar Exam in five three-hour segments over two and one-half days. The exam is in three parts:

Essay

The first day you must answer eight Delaware essay questions. A list of bar exam questions from previous years’ exams may be found here. Subjects may include:

  • Corporations
  • Agencies
  • Wills
  • State and federal procedure
  • Trusts
  • Partnerships
  • Equity
  • Criminal law and procedure
  • Delaware  Criminal Code
  • Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)’
  • Contracts/sales
  • Constitutional law
  • Evidence
  • Real property
  • Torts

On the second day, you will answer two questions from the MPT (Multistate Performance Test), developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBEX). These questions are each 90 minutes in duration and each includes a file and a library. You may be asked to prepare any of the following:

  • Client letter
  • Legal brief
  • Closing argument
  • Memorandum
  • Contract provision
  • Settlement proposal
  • Plan for discovery
  • Plan for witness examination

 The third day will consist of 200 multiple-choice questions from the MBE (Multistate Bar Examination), also developed by the NCBEX. Subjects that may be included are:

  • Torts
  • Evidence
  • Real property
  • Contracts and sales
  • Criminal law and procedure
  • Constitutional law

Application Process

  • You must file your Delaware Bar Application online with the Delaware Board of Bar Examiners. Provide all personal, educational, experiential, and other information requested. In addition:
    • Upload a passport-type photo of yourself no more than 30 days old and submit with your electronic application
    • The following documents must be tabbed as listed and submitted within 10 days of filing your electronic application (with the exception of your final law school transcript and preceptor certificate – see below):
      • Tab 1: Printed copy of your electronically filed Bar Application
      • Tab 2: Executed signature page of application
      • Tab 3: Executed application releases
      • Tab 4: Two passport photos
      • Tab 5: Official college transcripts
      • Tab 6: Official or interim Law School transcript (if interim, must file final transcript by July 1)
      • Tab 7: Law school application
      • Tab 8: Good Standing certificates if you are licensed in other jurisdictions
      • Tab 9: Bar application from other states in which you are licensed
      • Tab 10: Application for Special Accommodations, if necessary
      • Tab 11: Preceptor Certificate (file by July 1 if not complete at time of application submittal)(must be completed by a member of the Delaware Bar for at least 10 years who has agreed to mentor you, provide training, and report on your character and fitness to the Board). You must have served at least a 5 month Clerkship under your Preceptor or another five-year member of the bar as stated in Step 3 above) doing practical legal work in Delaware
      • Tab 12: Form 17 Divorce documents (if you have been involved in divorce proceedings in court)
      • Tab 13: Form 17 and 19 Litigation documents (if you have ever been involved in any types of litigation )
      • Tab 14: Copies of Form A reference letters mailed (must mail a Form A to each employer you have had since age 18 or within the past 10 years. These employers must complete Form A to verify your employment and return them to the Delaware Board of Bar Examiners)
      • Tab 15: Miscellaneous forms and associated required documents
  • Criminal Background Check: A complete criminal history record must be obtained on all who apply to the Delaware Bar. You must undergo checks with the Delaware State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Instructions for fingerprinting and completing this requirement may be found here.
  • As part of the Board’s Character and Fitness Investigation, they will require a personal interview with you.
  • Filing deadlines and fees: Your bar exam application must be filed no later than May 15 of the year in which you plan to take the exam in July. Fees must be paid online and are as follows:
    • If you are not admitted to practice in another jurisdiction and file before April 1, the fee is $700
    •  If you are not admitted to practice in another jurisdiction and file after April 1 but before May 15, the fee is $1400
    • If you are already admitted to practice in another jurisdiction and file before April 1, the fee is $800
    • If you are already admitted to practice in another jurisdiction and file after April 1 but before May 15, the fee is $1600

Also make sure to have your final law school transcript and Preceptor’s Certificate to the Board by July 1.

  • Mail all documents and materials to: Board of Bar Examiners of the Supreme Court of Delaware, Carvel State Office Building, 820 North French Street, 11th Floor,
    Wilmington, DE 19801-3545  

Pass Rates

According to the Delaware Board of Bar Examiners, the 2010 pass rate for first time bar exam takers was 71.51%. These numbers improved slightly in 2011 to 73.25%. The Board maintains a list of passing applicants for the past two years here.

MPRE Exam

Once you have passed the Delaware Bar Exam, you have four years to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. This exam, which costs $70 to take, is just over two hours long and consists of 60 multiple-choice questions (50 of which are scored and 10 of which are not scored). It is to measure your knowledge of the professional conduct of lawyers as stated by the American Bar Association. The MPRE is offered three times per year, in March, August and November in more than 200 test centers across the United States. Check the MPRE Information Booklet for more information. Test centers in Delaware are:

Bridge the Gap Pre-Admission Conference

Prior to admission to the Bar, you must attend the Delaware Supreme Court's mandatory two-day Bridge-The-Gap Pre-Admission Conference. More information is available from the Board by phoning (302) 577-7038.

Licensing and Admission to the Bar

You must be admitted to the Bar no later than December 31 of the year after you pass the Delaware Bar Exam. All requirements for Bar admission other than passing the exam must be fulfilled by this time. Once admitted, you must recite the Oath of Office in any open court during any session of court or in any judges’ chambers. The Oath is as follows: "I (state your name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Delaware; that I will behave myself in the office of an Attorney within the Courts according to the best of my learning and ability and with all good fidelity as well to the Court as to the client; that I will use no falsehood nor delay any person's cause through lucre or malice."

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Step 5

Whats Next After You Pass the Delaware Bar?

Congratulations on your recent admission to the Bar in Delaware! Now you must decide where to practice. Should you join a large firm, a smaller firm, or set out on your own in a solo practice?

Setting up a solo law practice can seem like a huge undertaking, especially for a newly admitted lawyer. Not only do you have to draw up your own marketing strategy to obtain business, you must create your business plan, find a backup attorney to cover for you when you are not available, secure administrative support, find necessary professionals like accountants and information technology specialists, set up your banking accounts – the list goes on and on.

Perhaps you wish to set up a joint venture or partnership with a fellow attorney. The ABA General Practice Solo & Small Firm Division has an excellent resource for you in an article entitled “Discussion Points for  a Joint Venture or Strategic Partnership.” Many of the same decisions must be made as one would make in setting up a solo practice, plus you must decide on things such as division of profits, appointment of losses, and requirements for contributions to the practice.

If you opt to practice with a larger legal firm in Delaware, there are many from which to choose. Some of the more popular firms across the state include corporate law firms Saul Ewing LLP in Wilmington and Duane Morris LLP in Wilmington; full-service law firm Hudson, Jones Jaywork and Fisher in Georgetown, Rehoboth and Dover; environmental law firm Parkowski, Guerke & Swayze, P.A. in Dover, Wilmington and Georgetown; and trust attorneys the Williams Law Firm, P.A. in Wilmington.

Corporations need lawyers as well, and becoming legal counsel for one of these Fortune 500 corporations based in Delaware can be quite the accomplishment for a new attorney: chemical and pharmaceutical giant DuPont in Wilmington, and diversified financial group SLM in Newark. 

The Delaware Department of Labor predicts about 46 job openings per year from 2008 to 2018 for lawyers in New Castle County; 10 per year in Kent County; and 7 per year in Sussex County.

Legal specialty certification

If you choose to specialize in a legal area, you may seek certification through the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification. Areas of specialization available through this organization include civil trial advocacy, criminal law, family law, and social security disability law. The Delaware Coordinator of the NBLSC is James Erisman, and he may be contacted at 302-658-4000 or jerisman@erismanlaw.com.

Requirements for maintaining license

To maintain your legal license in Delaware, you must complete 24 hours of instruction in approved continuing legal education activities every two years. At least four hours must be from an Enhanced Ethics program. The provider maintains records of your continuing legal education. Accreditation standards and more information on continuing legal education for Delaware lawyers may be found here. Opportunities for continuing legal education are also provided by the Delaware State Bar Association.

Court Systems in Delaware  

The Delaware Judiciary is made up of the Supreme Court, the Court of Chancery, the Superior Court, the Family Court, the Court of Common Pleas, and the Justice of the Peace Court.

  • Justice of the Peace Court: presides over civil cases in which the amount in dispute is less than $15,000; may also hear certain misdemeanors and motor vehicle cases (not felonies). These are the Justice of the Peace Courts in Delaware:
  • Court of Common Pleas: hears and resolves everyday problems and disputes. Locations include:
    • New Castle County Courthouse, 500 N King St, Wilmington
    • Kent County Courthouse, 414 Federal St., Dover
    • Sussex County Courthouse, 1 The Circle, Suite 1, Georgetown
  • Family Court: presides over all juvenile, domestic and family matters. Locations include:
    • New Castle County Courthouse, 500 N King St, Wilmington
    • Kent County Courthouse, 414 Federal St., Dover
    • Sussex County Courthouse, 1 The Circle, Suite 1, Georgetown
  • Superior Court: Delaware’s court of general jurisdiction, original jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases except equity cases, and almost all drug offenses. Locations include:
    • New Castle County Courthouse, 500 N King St, Wilmington
    • Kent County Courthouse, 414 Federal St., Dover
    • Sussex County Courthouse, 1 The Circle, Suite 1, Georgetown
  • Court of Chancery: presides over all equity matters. Locations include:
    • New Castle County Courthouse, 500 N King St, Wilmington
    • Kent County Courthouse, 414 Federal St., Dover
    • Sussex County Courthouse, 1 The Circle, Suite 1, Georgetown
  • Supreme Court: appellate court of Delaware and the highest court in the state. Locations include:
    • New Castle County Courthouse, 500 N King St, Wilmington
    • Kent County Courthouse, 414 Federal St., Dover
    • Sussex County Courthouse, 1 The Circle, Suite 1, Georgetown

Elective membership organizations

Members of the Delaware Bar might also consider joining the following elective professional membership organizations for attorneys in Delaware:

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