State By State Requirements to Become a Lawyer

Law Information in Mississippi

Mississippi was home to the United States’ first bar association for lawyers, organized in Natchez in 1821, according to the Mississippi Bar Association. After years of ups and downs, the state bar association was unified in 1832. Today, there are over 7000 members of the Mississippi bar. The Bar has adopted mandatory Continuing Legal Education for lawyers in the state, has established the Interest on Lawyers Trust Account program; has constructed the Mississippi Bar Center and has piloted many other programs benefiting not only Mississippi lawyers but also Mississippi residents. If you would like to become a member of the Mississippi bar, keep reading for instructions on how to do so.
 

Step 1

Get Your Mississippi Undergraduate Pre-Law Major

The Mississippi Board of Bar Admissions says that you must have either a bachelor’s degree or have completed three years of a six-year pre-law/law integrated curriculum to fulfill the state’s undergraduate education requirements for lawyers.  

Accreditation

The undergraduate college or university that you attend must be accredited by a national or regional agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This will ensure acceptance of your undergraduate education by the Board as well as by ABA-accredited law schools to which you later apply for enrollment.  

Requirements and Standards

Your undergraduate major should be a subject in which you are interested and which challenges you. There are no right or wrong majors or courses to take in undergraduate school as a pre-law student. A thorough, broad knowledge of humanities will help to prepare you for the rigorous curriculum you will encounter in law school.

Degree Options

You must either receive a bachelor’s degree or you must have completed three years of a six-year integrated pre-law/law curriculum, under Board rules. Your major need not be in any particular area, although majors taken from humanities, history, government, political science and economics are popular choices for pre-law students.


Back to Top

Step 2

LSAT (Law School Admission Test) in Mississippi

Next, you must pass the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test. This standardized admission test lasts six hours and is offered quarterly around the country.

How to prepare

Free study materials for students may be found at the LSAT website. If you wish to take a LSAT preparation course, options in Mississippi include:  
LSAT Exam Prep Courses in Mississippi:

LSAT Exam content

You will be tested in the following areas on the LSAT:

  • Reading Comprehension – You are given four complex passages to read and must answer questions in 35 minutes. This means you have just over eight minutes to work on each passage. Make sure to read each passage thoroughly so that you have a good understanding of it and can answer the questions correctly.
  • Logical Reasoning – You are given 35 minutes to complete 24 to 26 logical reasoning questions (or about a minute and a half to allot to each question). You must answer questions based upon the reasoning in brief passages.
  • Analytical Reasoning – Also called Logic Games, this section involves problems where you must make inferences, glean rule combinations, discover linking patterns, and understand restrictions in order to choose the correct answer.
  • Writing Sample – You will also be asked to write a short essay on the LSAT. This is not graded as part of your exam score, but is sent to the admissions personnel at the law schools to which you will apply later.

Application process

Apply online to take the LSAT, and pay the $160 exam fee. The LSAT is offered four times per year at the following locations in Mississippi:

  • Delta State University, Hwy 8 West, Cleveland, MS 38733
  • Mississippi College, 200 South Capitol Street, Clinton, MS 39058
  • University of Southern Mississippi, 118 College Drive # 0001
    Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
  • Jackson State University, 1440 J R Lynch St, Jackson, MS 39217
  • Millsaps College, 1701 N State St, Jackson, MS 39210-0001
  • Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762
  • Tougaloo College, 500 W County Line Rd, Tougaloo, MS 39174
  • University of Mississippi Law School, 481 Coliseum Drive, Oxford, MS 38655

Receiving Your Score

The lowest LSAT score you can possibly obtain is 120, and the highest, 180. You should expect to receive yours by mail approximately 21 days after taking the LSAT. Average LSAT scores of admittees to Mississippi law schools are as follows:

  • University of Mississippi:          151-157
  • Mississippi College:                  150-155

Back to Top

Step 3

Go to Law School in Mississippi

Law School Application Process

Once you have completed your undergraduate education and passed the LSAT, you are ready to apply to law schools. Under Mississippi’s bar admission rules, you must graduate from an American Bar Association-accredited law school. You may attend any of the 200 such accredited law schools across the country, listed in the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools.

Credential Assembly Service

In order to apply for admission to an ABA-accredited law school, you must use the Law School Admission Council’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS). You will gather transcripts from any institution you have attended classes for credit and send them to the CAS. You will also provide the LSAC with names of persons who will write your letters of recommendation, and who will write online evaluations of your work. The fee to use the CAS is $155, and covers the electronic applications made to the ABA-accredited law schools you choose.

Accreditation

All who intend to sit for the Mississippi bar exam must have a J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school (or be no more than 60 days away from completing requirements for such a degree at the time you take the exam).

ABA-Accredited Law Schools in Mississippi

Two law schools in Mississippi hold ABA accreditation. They are:

Course requirements

As a law school student in Mississippi, courses you will take in the average curriculum include:

  • Civil law and procedure
  • Contracts
  • Torts
  • Criminal law and procedure
  • Legal writing
  • Legal research
  • Property
  • Constitutional law
  • Business and commercial law
  • Taxation and estate planning
  • Labor and employment law

Online Law Degrees

Internship

Most Mississippi law schools will require that you fulfill an internship while a law school student. This may involve working in an on-site legal setting or working in a school legal aid clinic assisting the indigent. Whatever your situation, your job performance will be graded by a supervisor as well as by a member of your law school faculty.

Registration

You must register with the Mississippi Board of Bar Admissions by October 1 of your second year of law school and pay a fee of $125. The Dean of your law school must attach a certification of your progress towards your J.D. degree along with your grades. In addition to the Law Student Registration Application, you must file the following:

  • Certified transcript copies from all colleges/universities attended, along with Form 13 for each transcript, sent directly from the institution to the Board
  • Certified transcript copies from all law schools attended, along with Form 14 for each transcript, sent to the Board from the law school
  • One 2” x 2” passport-style photo of yourself
  • Index card with your LSAC number
  • Fingerprints (information will be provided to assist you with this)
  • Status sheet
  • Additional response page, if needed
  • Authorization to Release Medical Records (notarized)
  • Request for Preparation of a Character Report (will be sent by the Board to the National Conference of Bar Examiners- you will also pay a fee of $150 to the NCBE for this)
  • You must indicate when you plan to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) given by the NCBE. This must occur 24 months before or 12 months after passing the bar exam, and you must get a scaled score of at least 75. You will not become a member of the Mississippi bar until you pass the MPRE. For more information, go to the NCBE website.
  • You must indicate when you tentatively plan to take the Mississippi bar exam.
  • Mail all of the above to Mississippi Board of Bar Admissions, P.O. Box 1449, Jackson, MS 39215-1449

J.D. Degree Programs

You must receive a J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school (or complete the majority of the requirements for one – see above) in order to sit for the Mississippi bar exam. There may be opportunities to receive dual degrees or certificates in other areas in addition to your J.D. degree. Check with your law school for details.

Back to Top

Step 4

Pass the Mississippi State Bar Exam

After you are at least 21 years old, have registered as a law student in Mississippi and completed the majority of requirements for or received your J.D. degree, you are ready to take the state’s bar exam.

Graduates of Foreign Law Schools

Graduates of law schools located outside of the United States are not eligible to take Mississippi’s bar exam.

Preparation

The Mississippi Board of Bar Admissions posts past essay questions and answer explanations on its website. Reviewing these may be of great assistance to you as you prepare to take the state’s bar exam. The National Conference of Bar Examiners website provides free study aids for the MEE (Multistate Essay Exam) and MPT (Multistate Performance Test).  
Other resources to help you prepare to take the Mississippi Bar Exam include:

Exam content

Mississippi’s bar exam is a three-day event. The first day you will have six Mississippi essay questions, with an hour to spend on each one.

The second day of the Mississippi bar exam consists of two 90-minute Multistate Performance Test (MPT) questions in the morning and six Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) questions in the afternoon.

Questions for the MEE and the Mississippi essay exam could be on any of the following topics: administrative law, Constitutional law, agency, contracts and sales, bankruptcy, torts, criminal law and procedure, real property, commercial paper, conflict of laws, corporations, domestic relations,

Federal civil procedure, Federal income tax, Federal jurisdiction & Rules of Civil Procedure, Mississippi Constitutional law, partnerships, practice and procedure of Mississippi court system, professional ethics and conduct, secured transactions, Uniform Commercial Code, wills, estates, trusts, and workers’ compensation.

The MPT involves performing tasks that lawyers do on a daily basis. To prepare, practice your skills in things such as legal analysis and reasoning, problem solving, communication, analysis of facts, management and organization of legal tasks, recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas, drafting client letters, drafting memos, writing a legal brief, and composing closing arguments.

Day 3 is devoted to the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), 200 multiple-choice questions on: Constitutional law, contracts/sales, criminal law and procedure, evidence, real property, and
torts.

Application Process

Applications for the upcoming bar exam will be posted online at the Board website. Keep a copy of your application and all supporting documents you are mailing to the Board. Make sure to file your application before the deadline (Feb 1 for the July exam, and Sept 1 for the February exam). Along with your completed application, you must send:

  • $25 application fee by cash, cashier’s check or money order payable to the MS Board of Bar Admissions
  • Exam fee by cash, cashier’s check or money order payable to the MS Board of Bar Admissions ($825 if you have not registered as  a law student previously)
  • Certified transcript copies from all law schools attended, along with Form 14 for each transcript, sent to the Board from the law school
  • Have your signature on pages 2, 3, 12 and 13 of the application notarized
  • Index card with your LSAC number
  • Mail everything to MS Board of Bar Admissions, P.O. Box 1449, Jackson, MS 39215-1449

MBE Transfer Scores

If you took the MBE in another jurisdiction within 20 months of taking the Mississippi bar exam, you may transfer the actual scaled score you received to Mississippi.

Pass Rates

Adaptibar.com has reported the following results for Mississippi bar exams for the listed dates:

  • 2011:                       72 percent of total test takers passed the exam
  • 2010:                       76%
  • 2009:                       78%
  • 2008:                       82%
  • 2007:                       81%
  • 2006:                       80%
  • 2005:                       85%
  • 2004:                       86%
  • 2003:                       86%
  • 2002:                       81%

Admission on Motion

If you are already a member of the bar in another jurisdiction, you may be eligible for Admission on Motion to the Mississippi bar. You must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a J.D. from an ABA-approved law school (unless this is not a requirement of the jurisdiction in which you are a bar member)
  • Have at least five years’ practice experience in that jurisdiction
  • Have been a bar member in good standing for at least five years in that jurisdiction
  • The laws of that jurisdiction must extend similar reciprocity privileges to Mississippi lawyers

As of 2012, the only jurisdictions not reciprocal with Mississippi are California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. Visit this link for more information on Admission on Motion. 

Licensing and Admission to the Bar

You will receive your bar exam results by mail about eight weeks post-exam. Your bar admission will be held in Jackson at a specified date and time. At your swearing-in ceremony for admission to the bar, you must pay the following fees in order to be admitted to the following courts:

  • Chancery Court:                                         $37
  • Supreme Court:                                         $30
  • U.S. Northern District Court:                    $160
  • U.S. Southern District Court:                   $160
  • Fifth Circuit/U.S. Court of Appeals:         $50

Back to Top

Step 5

Now that You’ve Been Admitted to the Mississippi Bar

You have reached the final milestone in your quest to become a Mississippi lawyer and are now a full-fledged bar member in the state! The Mississippi Bar Association can help you as you plan your career course. As a new lawyer, or if you are a lawyer in the state under age 37, you are automatically a member of the association’s Young Lawyers Division (YLD). Local affiliates of the YLD may be able to help you and include:

Mississippi has many law firms throughout the state in various areas of practice. Some of the most well known include:

  • Myers & Associates, PLLC in Hernando – Family Law
  • Farese, Farese & Farese, P.A. in Ashland – Criminal Law
  • Brown, Buchanan & Sessoms, P.A. in Pascagoula – Workers Compensation Law
  • Hurt & Allen in Picayune – Civil Litigators & Commercial Law
  • Hortman Harlow Martindale Bassi & Robinson, PLLC in Laurel – Environmental Law, Oil & Gas Law

If you prefer to work for a company, legal positions are often available across the state. Larger companies in Mississippi include Hollywood Casino Resorts in Tunica, Nissan in Canton, Siemens Energy in Richland, Zeiders Enterprises in Jackson, and LexisNexis in Jackson.

Legal specialty certification

If you want to practice in a specialized legal area, you might consider certification. The National Board of Legal Specialty Certification offers certification services for specializations including civil trial law advocacy, social security disability advocacy, family law, civil law, and criminal law. You must take an exam and file an application in order to receive certification, and fulfill continuing education activities to keep your certification valid. For more information, contact Mississippi’s NBLSC coordinator, Briggs Smith, at 662-563-4613 or briggs@smithphillips.com.

Requirements for maintaining license

To maintain your legal license and bar admission status in Mississippi, you must complete at least 12 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) per year. For more information, contact the State of Mississippi Commission on Continuing Legal Education.

Court Systems in Mississippi

Mississippi’s Courts are divided as structured below:

  • Youth Courts: Located in Mississippi’s 21 counties that have County Courts, Youth Courts handle matters of neglect and abuse of children, as well as offenses committed by juveniles under 18.
  • Municipal Courts: Mississippi has 226 Municipal Courts, handling cases including misdemeanors, violations of traffic codes and of municipal ordinances.
  • Drug Courts: There are 42 Drug Courts across the state of Mississippi, handling crimes committed by drug or alcohol addicts.
  • Justice Courts: Mississippi has 82 Justice Courts across the state, with jurisdiction over small claims cases under $3500 in value, misdemeanors, traffic violations outside a municipality
  • County Courts: There are 21 County Courts across Mississippi. They hear cases involving juvenile matters, eminent domain, some non-capital felony cases transferred from circuit court, set search warrants, issue bond, etc.
  • Chancery Courts: There are 20 Chancery Court districts across Mississippi. They hear cases involving equity disputes, domestic matters, guardianships, sanity hearings, wills, and challenges to the constitutionality of state laws. They also have jurisdiction in juvenile matters in counties with no County Court.
  • Circuit Courts: 22 Circuit Court districts exist across Mississippi. They hear cases of felony criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits, as well as appeals from County, Justice and Municipal courts and from administrative boards and commissions.
  • Court of Appeals: Hears cases assigned by the Supreme Court, and is an error correction court. Court of Appeals Districts include:
    • District 1: counties of Alcorn, Benton, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Desoto, Grenada (split w/District 2), Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery (split w/ District 2), Panola (split w/District 2), Pontotoc, Prentiss, Tallahatchie (split w/District 2), Tate, Tippah, Tishomingo, Union, Webster, Yalobusha
    • District 2: counties of Attala (split w/District 3), Bolivar, Carroll, Claiborne, Coahoma, Grenada (split w/District 1), Hinds (split w/District 4), Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Jefferson, Leake (split w/District 3), Leflore, Madison (split w/District 3), Montgomery (split w/District 1), Panola (split w/District 1), Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie (split w/District 1), Tunica, Warren, Washington, Yazoo
    • District 3: counties of Attala (split w/District 2), Clarke, Clay, Jasper, Jones (split w/District 4), Kemper, Lauderdale, Leake (split w/District 2), Lowndes, Madison (split w/District 2), Neshoba, Newton, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Rankin, Scott, Smith, Wayne (split w/District 5), Winston
    • District 4: counties of Adams, Amite, Copiah, Covington, Franklin, Hinds (split w/District 2), Jefferson Davis, Jones (split w/District 3), Lawrence, Lincoln, Marion, Pike, Simpson, Walthall, Wilkinson
    • District 5: counties of Forrest, George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Lamar, Pearl River, Perry, Stone, Wayne (split w/District 3)
  • Supreme Court: Mississippi’s court of last resort, hears direct appeals for annexations, bond issues, constitutionality challenges, death penalty cases, matters of discipline involving lawyers and judges, election contests, federal court certified questions, utility rates cases, cases of first impression and broad public interest issues. Districts include:
    • District 1: counties of Bolivar, Claiborne, Copiah, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Jefferson, Kemper, Lauderdale, Leake, Madison, Neshoba, Newton, Noxubee, Rankin, Scott, Sharkey, Sunflower, Warren, Washington, Yazoo
    • District 2: counties of Adams, Amite, Clarke, Covington, Forrest, Franklin, George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Lawrence, Lincoln, Marion, Pearl River, Perry, Pike, Simpson, Smith, Stone, Walthall, Wayne, Wilkinson
    • District 3: counties of Alcorn, Attala, Benton, Calhoun, Carroll, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clay, Coahoma, Desoto, Grenada, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Leflore, Lowndes, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Oktibbeha, Panola, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tippah, Tishomingo, Tunica, Union, Webster, Winston, Yalobusha

Elective membership organizations

Here are a few membership organizations for professional lawyers in Mississippi in which membership might benefit your career:

Back to Top

Mississippi Resources

General Resources

Law Exams

Lawyer Career Specialties

  Mississippi Statistics:
 
CA Active Lawyers 7000+
Average Annual Wage $86,580

Recommend