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Louisiana is the only state in the nation whose legal system is based on civil law, namely French and Spanish codes, as opposed to English common law. This means that judges in Louisiana may rule based upon their own interpretation of the law rather than based upon legal precedents. There are also some legal terms in Louisiana law that are not found elsewhere, including usufruct , defined as the right of enjoyment that enables a holder to receive profit / benefit from property that is titled to someone else or held in common ownership, so long as the property is not destroyed/damaged; and forced heirship, providing forced heirs of an estate the right to claim a forced portion of the d estate, the right to nullify lifetime gifts, and the right to compel equalization of lifetime donations. This means that studying law in Louisiana is very different from studying law in other states, and these differences are reflected in the state’s challenging and completely essay-format bar exam. If you are up to the challenge, follow these steps to become a Louisiana lawyer.
The Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions does not require that you obtain any specific education before going to law school. But, because the American Bar Association (ABA) insists that you have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in an ABA-approved law school, you must complete this undergraduate requirement.
Accreditation of your undergraduate institution is necessary, according to the ABA. If your college or university is accredited by an organizations listed with the U.S. Department of Education, most ABA-accredited law schools will accept your undergraduate education.
Requirements and Standards
The ABA does not mandate the coursework, majors or minors you should take in your undergraduate education. It does state that you should take courses that challenge you and which you find interesting. Courses that involve critical analysis, problem-solving skills, critical reading abilities, written and oral communication skills, and organizational/management skills will be the most helpful to you as a pre-law student. General coursework taken from the areas of history, human behavior, politics and government, international cultures and mathematics are recommended.
You are not required to complete any specific undergraduate major, just to obtain a bachelor’s degree prior to entering law school. Majors that come from the above-mentioned coursework areas are often the most helpful to pre-law students.
After completing your undergraduate education, the next step towards your goal of becoming a Louisiana lawyer is passing the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test. This is a six-hour-long standardized test required for admission into all ABA-approved law schools.
How to prepare
The LSAT website provides a plethora of free study aids to help you prepare to take this important test. Additionally, you may wish to pay for preparation materials and/or courses, such as:
LSAT Exam Prep Courses in Louisiana:
The LSAT will test your knowledge and abilities in the following areas:
The easiest way to schedule to sit for the LSAT is online. You will be asked to create an LSAC (Law School Admission Council) account and pay the exam fee of $160. The LSAT is offered on Saturdays and Wednesdays in February, June, October and December. These centers throughout Louisiana administer the LSAT:
Receiving Your Score
It takes approximately three weeks for the LSAC to process your LSAT scores and mail them to you. The lowest possible LSAT score is 120. The highest possible LSAT score is 180. Average LSAT scores/score ranges of students admitted to the following Louisiana law schools are:
Law School Application process
You have achieved the milestone of passing the LSAT and are now ready for the next step in your quest to become a Louisiana lawyer. Now, you must apply to ABA-approved law schools. (The Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions does allow graduates of non-ABA-approved law schools located outside of the United States to take the bar exam, the conditions of which will be explained later). You may graduate from any of the 200 ABA-approved law schools across the country, each of which has its own requirements when you apply for admission. Check this list of services required by ABA-approved law schools at the time of application for admission.
Credential Assembly Service
It is imperative that you use the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service when applying for enrollment into any ABA-approved law school. This valuable service, which costs $155 to use and is payable through your online LSAC account, helps you collect transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions you have attended, gather letters of recommendation, request online evaluations of your character and work, and applies electronically for you to the ABA-approved law schools of your choice.
The Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions requires you to graduate from an ABA-approved law school to be eligible to sit for the state’s bar exam. A complete listing of ABA-approved law schools across the country may be found in the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools.
ABA-Accredited Law Schools in Louisiana
The following law schools in Louisiana hold accreditation by the ABA:
The Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions requires that you complete coursework in the following areas as part of your legal education:
Online Law Degrees
You will likely be required to complete an internship as part of your degree program in law school. This may consist of working in a school-sponsored legal clinic assisting destitute clients with legal matters; working in a pro-bono clinic; working in a government agency; or working in a private legal firm. Regardless of your internship setting, your performance will be monitored and graded by on-site supervisors and faculty of your law school who will visit your work site from time to time.
Registering with the Louisiana Bar
If you are enrolled in a Louisiana ABA-approved law school, you must register as a Law Student with the Louisiana Bar. You may register between August 1 and October 1 of your second year of law school. The fee for registration is $25. Information will be provided to you by your school at the appropriate time. You will be instructed to file a Law Student Registration Form with the Committee as well as a Request for Preparation of Character Report with the NCBE (National Conference of Bar Examiners). Additionally, if you are enrolled in an ABA-approved law school outside of Louisiana and plan to take the bar exam, you may also register as a Law Student.
The Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions requires that you graduate from an ABA-approved law school with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in order to be eligible to sit for the state’s bar examination.
Graduates of Foreign Law Schools
If you graduated from a foreign law school, you must complete the following steps before applying to sit for Louisiana’s bar exam:
Once you have graduated with your J.D. degree from an ABA-approved law school (or have met the education equivalency requirements listed above), you may apply to take the Louisiana bar exam.
Bar Exam Preparation
The Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions provides previous bar exam questions here. Additional bar exam preparation resources in Louisiana include:
The Louisiana Bar Exam is given on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the last week of February and the last week of July. It takes three days to complete, and runs from 8 am to 5 pm each day. As Louisiana is the only civil law state in the country, it does not the national examinations other states use, such as the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE). Louisiana’s Bar Exam tests your knowledge in nine areas, including five code sections testing on the Louisiana Civil Code and the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure. Separate essay examinations are given on the following subject areas (the first five areas are code exams, and the last four are non-code exams):
If you have already registered as a Law Student with the Committee, you must submit a Bar Examination Application to the Committee and a Supplemental Request for Preparation of Character Report to the NCBE. The Bar Exam Application Fee is $550. Links to applications will be posted online.
If you have not registered as a Law Student, you are treated as a First-Time Applicant and must file a Bar ExaminationApplication (fee of $550) with the Committee and a Request for Preparation of a Character Report with the NCBE (carries a fee of $225). If you were in an ABA accredited law schools in Louisiana and could have registered as a law student, you will be assessed a late law student registration fee of $200.
Information that is requested on the application, as well as Committee fees, should be mailed to Committee on Bar Admissions, 2800 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Suite 310, Metairie, LA 70002.
Bar Pass Rates
According to information provided by the Louisiana Supreme Court, 65.8 percent of those who took the July 2010 bar exam passed. Pass rates from Louisiana’s ABA-approved law schools were as follows:
Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)
Another requirement for bar admission in Louisiana is to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), administered by NCBE. You may take the MPRE after you have completed your law school coursework in legal ethics or professional responsibility, and must pass the exam with a score of at least 80 before bar admission will occur. For information on taking the MPRE, visit the NCBE website.
Louisiana does not have reciprocity with other states. Even if you are a member of the bar of another state, or if another state would grant you bar membership based upon Louisiana bar membership, you must still sit for the Louisiana bar exam before bar admission can occur.
Licensing and Admission to the Bar
A list of those who pass the Louisiana Bar is posted on the Supreme Court website. Your individual scores will be mailed to you six to eight weeks post-exam. You will also be notified of the time and place of your formal bar admission ceremony.
You have passed the Louisiana bar exam and are now a full-fledged member of the Louisiana Bar! You will find that the Louisiana State Bar Association can help you in a variety of ways, whether your goal is to establish a solo legal practice or if you wish to join a firm.
Many Louisiana law firms have made the list of US News & World Report’s Best Lawyers/Best Law Firms. They include Gainsburgh, Benjamin, David, Meunier & Warshauer, LLC in New Orleans, specializing in a variety of areas including torts and admiralty law; Domengeaux, Wright, Roy & Edwards, LLC in Lafayette, specializing in personal injury cases; Adams and Reese, LLP in New Orleans, specializing in business litigation; personal injury lawyers Babcock Partners, LLC in Baton Rouge; and personal injury/finance lawyers Corkern & Crews, LLC in Natchitoches.
Corporations based throughout Louisiana often hire lawyers in many capacities. Louisiana houses some Fortune 500 companies, including utilities company Entergy in New Orleans, telecommunications corporation Century Link in Monroe, and the Shaw Group engineering company in Baton Rouge.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission projects an increase of about 250 new jobs per year from 2008 through 2018 for lawyers across the state.
Legal specialty certification
The Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization oversees specialty certifications for lawyers practicing throughout the state. You may become certified through them via examination to practice in the following areas:
Each specialization also requires continuing legal education (CLE) that you must fulfill on an annual basis. For more information, contact the Board at (504) 310-2300 or its Executive Director, Megan Landry, at email@example.com.
Requirements for maintaining license
Once you have passed the bar exam in Louisiana and become a member of the bar, you must complete 12.5 hours of approved continuing legal education (CLE) during your first year of practice. At least eight of these hours must be in the areas of professionalism, law office management or legal ethics. After that, you must maintain 12.5 hours of CLE each year, including one hour in ethics and one hour in professionalism.
Court Systems in Louisiana
As mentioned before, Louisiana is the only legal system in the United States based on civil law, also known as Roman law. Under Louisiana state law, cases may be decided by judicial interpretation of the statutes, without reference to prior court cases. In other states and federal courts, common law and previous judicial interpretations usually prevail. However, in practice, most Louisiana lawyers and judges do cite previous cases in arguments and rulings.
Louisiana’s Judicial Branch consists of:
Elective membership organizations
Now that you are a Louisiana lawyer, consider joining an elective professional membership organization such as:
Lawyer Career Specialties
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