State By State Requirements to Become a Lawyer

Lawyer Job Info in Nebraska

Minority representation among the legal profession is much lower than among other occupations, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2008, they found that only 9.7 percent of all lawyers in the United States were minorities. The Nebraska State Bar Association and the Nebraska Minority Justice Committee drafted a Call to Action in 2008 to encourage more minorities in Nebraska to pursue the legal profession. They started a LSAT Prep Scholarship Program, Job Shadowing Program, and Nebraska Minority Corporate Counsel Program. As the 2008 Nebraska State Bar Association President Wayne Mark stated, “While I do not purport to fully understand the reasons for this disparity or why the legal profession is less diverse than other professions, it is apparent to me that this disparity will continue if we do not take some action to effect change. I know that the Nebraska State Bar Association is committed to initiating new programs and activities to foster diversity and that, with the support of Nebraska lawyers, we will be able to effect real change in the diversity of our profession.”  The full effects of the actions of their actions will not be evident for a few years. If you would like to pursue a career as a lawyer in Nebraska, please keep reading.
 

Step 1

Get Your Nebraska Undergraduate Pre-Law Major

Pre-legal education is required by the Nebraska State Bar Commission for admission to the state’s bar. Prior to entering law school, you must receive a bachelor’s degree in any subject.  

Accreditation

The Nebraska State Bar Commission and the American Bar Association (ABA) both require that you obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited undergraduate institution. If the agency that accredits your college/university is listed in U.S. Department of Education database of national and regional accreditation agencies, both the ABA and the Commission should accept the validity of your bachelor’s degree.  

Requirements and Standards

Coursework that you should take in your pre-legal undergraduate education is not specified. Some courses, however, help more than others in preparing you for law school. These include business, journalism, political science, history, philosophy, writing, and literature.

Degree Options

Undergraduate majors may be from any area in order to count towards fulfilling your pre-legal undergraduate education requirement. Majors taken from the above-mentioned areas are the most often advised ones for those who intend to attend law school after graduation.


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Step 2

LSAT (Law School Admission Test) in Nebraska

The next hurdle you must jump in your attempt to become a Nebraska lawyer is to pass the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). The six-hour standardized test is mandatory for entrance into any of the more than 200 ABA-approved law schools nationwide.  

How to prepare

Free study resources may be found at the LSAT website. Other LSAT preparation materials in Nebraska are:
LSAT Exam Prep Courses in Nebraska:

Exam content

The LSAT takes about three and a half hours to complete. There are four main sections in the LSAT: one Reading Comprehension, two Logical Reasoning, and one Analytical Reasoning. In addition, there is an essay section and an experimental question section, neither of which are scored. The experimental section is unknown to the test-taker, however, and the essay that you write in the essay section will be sent to the law schools to which you apply. You will be allotted 35 minutes to complete each section of the LSAT. You will be scored on the number of correct answers, so there is no penalty for answering incorrectly. This means that you should answer every question, even if you are unsure that the answer you are providing is correct.

Application process

Apply online at the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website and pay the $160 examination fee there when you create your LSAC.org account. The LSAT is given four times annually, in December, February, June and October, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, at the following Nebraska testing centers:

  • Chadron State College, 1000 Main St, Chadron, NE 69337-2690
  • University of Nebraska-Kearney, 905 W 25th St, Kearney, NE 68849-1212
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 14th and R St, Lincoln, NE 68588
  • McCook Community College, 1205 East Third Street, McCook, NE 69001
  • Creighton University, 2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE 68178
  • University of Nebraska at Omaha, 6001 Dodge St, Omaha, NE 68182-0225

Receiving Your Score

It will take approximately 21 days to receive your LSAT exam score through the mail. The lowest score you could possibly obtain is 120, and the highest, 180. These are the median LSAT scores accepted by Nebraska law schools, according to ABA law school data:

  • Creighton University School of Law:                         154
  • University of Nebraska College of Law:                   157

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Step 3

Go to Law School in Nebraska

Law School Application process in Nebraska

After obtaining your undergraduate education and passing the LSAT, you are now ready to apply to the ABA-approved law schools you select. Graduation from an ABA-accredited law school is a requirement for bar admission in Nebraska. You need not go to a school within the state, however; you are free to apply to any of the over 200 ABA-approved law schools nationwide that are listed in the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools.

Credential Assembly Service

It is mandatory that you use the Law School Admission Council’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) as you apply to the ABA-accredited law schools you choose. The CAS helps you to collect and collate all transcripts from undergraduate and graduate institutions that you have attended and received college credit from up to this point. It will also help contact people whom you have asked to write your letters of recommendation for law school entrance, as well as people whom you have asked to give online evaluations of your character and work.  As the CAS compiles all of this important information, it will send it to the law schools to which you choose to apply, and will handle the electronic applications to these law schools for you. The fee for usage of the CAS is $155, payable through your LSAC.org account.

Accreditation

In order to qualify to sit for the Nebraska state bar exam, the Nebraska State Bar Commission requires that your first professional law degree (Juris Doctor (JD) degree) comes from an ABA-accredited law school.

ABA-Accredited Law Schools in Nebraska

There are two ABA-accredited law schools in Nebraska:

Course requirements

These courses are typically found in the curriculum of a Nebraska ABA-approved law school:

  • Civil procedure
  • Constitutional law
  • Contracts
  • Legal research
  • Lawyering skills
  • Legal writing
  • Property
  • Torts
  • Professional responsibility
  • Business associations
  • Criminal procedure
  • Evidence
  • Trust and estates
  • Secured transactions

Online Law Degrees

Internship

Your law school may offer, or require, that you participate in an internship, externship or clinical placement as part of your curriculum.  These typically take place off-campus at a real-world site where lawyers work. Goals of internships/externships include teaching students skills necessary to be an effective lawyer, improve your ability to perform these skills, help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses as a practicing lawyer, increase your self-confidence in your abilities, and develop productive working relationships. You will be graded on your experience based on meeting goals expected of you by your supervisor(s), completing the necessary hours of work assigned to you, and evaluating your own experience.

Degree Programs

The Nebraska State Bar Commission requires that you obtain a J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school. Some law schools offer other concentrations or dual degrees with the J.D. requirements. These may include:

  • J.D./M.S. in Information Technology Management
  • J.D./M.S. in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution
  • J.D./M.A. in International Relations

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Step 4

Take the Nebraska State Bar Exam

Once you have received your J.D. degree, or if you will receive your degree within 60 days of taking the bar exam, you may sit for the Nebraska bar exam. If you have already taken the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) in another jurisdiction, your scores will be accepted by the Nebraska State Bar Commission as long as you meet all other requirements for admission.

Non-ABA-approved Law School Graduates

You are not eligible to take the Nebraska bar exam if you graduated from a law school that is not approved by the ABA.

Graduates of Foreign Law Schools

You are not eligible to take the Nebraska bar exam if you graduated from a law school located outside of the United States.

Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)

Before you may sit for the Nebraska state bar exam, you must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) with a scaled score of 85. This must have been obtained within 18 months of sitting for the Nebraska bar exam. Your scaled score of at least 85 must be on file by November 1 if you plan to take the February bar exam or by April 1 if you plan to take the July bar exam. If not, a $100 late fee will be added to your bar exam application.

Apply here to take the MPRE. The MPRE is administered in March, August and November at the following Nebraska locations:

  • Southeast Community College, Lincoln
  • Creighton University School of Law, Omaha
  • University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha

Preparation

You will find free study resources at the National Conference of Bar Examiners website to help you prepare for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). Study the sections on the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) and the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE). If you wish to take a formal bar review preparation course, options available to you in Nebraska include:

Exam content

It takes two days to complete the Nebraska bar exam. The first day you will complete six Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) questions. Subjects that you may encounter include:

  • Commercial paper
  • Agency
  • Corporations
  • Conflict of laws
  • Family law
  • Partnerships
  • Federal civil procedure
  • Sales
  • Trusts/future interests
  • Secured transactions
  • Wills

The second day, you will take the Multistate Bar Exam, 200 multiple-choice questions that may be on any of the following areas:

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

Application Process

Begin the application process with the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE)Character and Fitness Application. Complete their standard application, then review the given checklist to make sure that you have completed everything. You will need to complete narrative explanations and obtain supplemental documents based upon your answers to certain questions.  Complete two fingerprint cards with the instructions provided. Print your completed application, and mail that and notarized forms, the checklist, and additional information required, to Nebraska State Bar Commission, PO Box 81809, Lincoln, NE 68501-1809. If you need to attach amendment forms, they are available at the Bar Association website. Fees that you must include are as follows:

  • $490 if applying to take the Nebraska bar exam and have already passed MPRE
  • $590 if applying to take Nebraska bar exam and have not yet passed MPRE
  • $25 to NCBE online when creating Character and Fitness application

Fees are payable by bank cashier’s check or money order to the Secretary, Nebraska State Bar Commission. If you wish to use your own personal laptop to take the exam, an additional fee will be required and will be disclosed to you when you apply. This fee is only accepted via Paypal.com.
Filing deadlines are as follows:

  • February bar exam: file no earlier than September 1 but no later than November 1
  • July bar exam: file no earlier than February 1 but no later than April 1

Pass Rates

In order to pass the Nebraska bar exam, you must obtain a combined scaled score of 135 on the MEE and the MBE. The following are the Nebraska bar exam results reported by the Commission and published by Adaptibar.com, from 2002 through 2011:

  • 2002: 76 percent of all test-takers passed the exam
  • 2003: 79%
  • 2004: 77%
  • 2005: 73%
  • 2006: 80%
  • 2007: 83%
  • 2008: 84%
  • 2009: 78%
  • 2010: 81%
  • 2011: 78%

Admission on Motion

If you are already a licensed lawyer in another U.S. jurisdiction, you may be eligible for admission to Nebraska’s bar without examination. You must meet the following requirements:

  • Have actively practiced law for five of the past seven years
  • Have your J.D. degree from an ABA-approved law school
  • Passed a bar exam in another jurisdiction equivalent to Nebraska’s exam

You must pay a fee of $950 when filing for admission on motion.

Licensing and Admission to the Bar

Expect to receive your Nebraska bar exam results by mail six weeks after you take the exam. If you pass, you will be notified of the time and place of your bar admission ceremony. You must take the oath of admission within 18 months of the announcement by the Supreme Court that you have passed the bar exam.

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Step 5

You’ve Been Admitted to the Nebraska Bar

Kudos to you for passing the Nebraska bar examination! The Nebraska State Bar Association can help you as you start your career as a lawyer in Nebraska. Nebraska Lawyer Magazine is just one of the many resources available to you as a member of the bar. You may also take advantage of the marketing opportunities, e-counsel technologies, technological resources, and lending library of the Bar Association.

There are many committees within the Bar Association in which you may wish to volunteer your time. The Minority and Justice Committee was created in 2003 to address racial and ethnic bias and discrimination within the Nebraska Bar Association. The Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program is part of the association that assists lawyers in need. The Volunteer Lawyers Project is a statewide volunteer legal services project and referral network for those who need legal assistance but cannot afford to pay full price.

Nebraska has many law firms in diverse practice areas across the state that may employ lawyers fresh out of law school.Personal injury and bankruptcy law firm Knudsen is located in Lincoln. Full service law firm Baird Holm is in Omaha. Estate planning and family law firm Bianco Stroh is in Papillion. General litigation firm Simmons Olsen is located in Scottsbluff. Personal injury/real estate specialists Parker, Grossart, Bahensky & Beucke LLP are in Kearney.

Five Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Nebraska and may hire lawyers from time to time. All located in Omaha, they include Warren Buffett’s property and casualty company Berkshire Hathaway, railroad giant Union Pacific, ConAgra Foods, engineering/construction company Peter Kiewit Sons, and Mutual of Omaha Insurance.

Legal specialty certification

Many Nebraska lawyers choose to seek certification in a specialized practice area. This indicates to potential employers and clients that you hold yourself to the highest standards in your area of practice. The American Board of Certification (ABC) provides certification services for Nebraska lawyers who want to specialize their practice in the areas of consumer and business bankruptcy and creditors’ rights. For information on the certification process, contact ABC at (319) 365-2222 or director@abcworld.org.

If you want to become certified to practice in civil pretrial advocacy, social security disability advocacy, family trial law, criminal trial law, or civil trial law, the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification (NBLSC) provides certification services for these specializations. Contact Nebraska’s NBLSC coordinator, John W. Ballew, Jr., at (402)436-4030 or jwb@bsclawfirm.com    for more information.

Requirements for maintaining license

Nebraska lawyers must fulfill Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements in order to maintain licensure. You must complete 10 hours of MCLE each year. At least two of those hours must be in ethics or professional responsibility. For more information on MCLE in Nebraska, contact the Nebraska MCLE Commission.

Court systems

Nebraska’s Judicial System is structured as follows:

  • County Courts: Consists of 58 judges serving 12 districts. Have jurisdiction over misdemeanors; preliminary hearings in felony cases; civil cases under $52,000; small claims cases under $3500; probate, conservatorship, guardianship, adoption and eminent domain cases; and also function as juvenile courts (except in Douglas, Sarpy and Lancaster counties)
  • District Courts: Consists of 56 judges who serve 12 districts. The trial court of general jurisdiction over felony cases, domestic relation cases, civil cases over $52,000, and hears some county court and administrative agency appeals.
    • Juvenile Courts – Consists of 11 judges serving 3 counties (Douglas, Sarpy and Lancaster). This is the county court of domestic and juvenile jurisdiction
    • Workers’ Compensation Court – Consists of 7 judges who hear workers’ compensation cases statewide. Their jurisdiction includes occupational illness and injury.
  • Court of Appeals: Consists of 6 judges who hear cases in panels of three statewide. It is the trial court of appeals except for cases directly appealed to the Supreme Court
  • Supreme Court: Consists of a Chief Justice and 6 judges, and is the highest appellate court in Nebraska. Hears mandatory appeals in capital cases and cases about the constitutionality of laws/statutes. It may have original jurisdiction over specified cases.

The 12 judicial districts in Nebraska are:

  • 1st: Clay, Fillmore, Jefferson, Nemaha, Johnson, Nuckolls, Pawnee, Richardson, Thayer, Saline and Gage Counties
  • 2nd: Sarpy, Cass  and Otoe Counties
  • 3rd: Lancaster County
  • 4th: Douglas County
  • 5th: Boone, Butler, Colfax, Hamilton, Merrick, Nance, Platte, Polk, Saunders, Seward and York Counties
  • 6th: Burt, Cedar, Dakota, Dixon, Dodge, Thurston and Washington Counties
  • 7th: Antelope, Cuming, Knox, Madison, Pierce, Stanton, and Wayne Counties
  • 8th: Blaine, Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Custer, Garfield, Greeley, Holt, Howard, Keya Paha, Loup, Rock, Sherman, Valley and Wheeler Counties
  • 9th: Buffalo and Hall Counties
  • 10th: Adams, Franklin, Harlan, Kearney, Phelps and Webster Counties
  • 11th: Arthur, Chase, Dawson, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Gosper, Hayes, Hitchcock, Hooker, Keith, Lincoln, Logan, McPherson, Perkins, Red Willow and Thomas Counties
  • 12th: Banner, Box Butte, Cheyenne, Dawes, Deuel, Garden, Grant, Kimball, Morrill, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan and Sioux Counties

Elective membership organizations

Here are some other membership associations for Nebraska lawyers that you might consider joining:

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Nebraska Resources

General Resources

Law Exams

Lawyer Career Specialties

  Nebraska Statistics:
 
NE Active Lawyers N/A
Average Annual Wage $83,760

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