State By State Requirements to Become a Lawyer

Law Careers in Connecticut

The American Bar Association (ABA) reports that in 2017, there were 21,341resident and active attorneys practicing in the state of Connecticut. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational and Wage Estimates for May 2017 reports that Connecticut lawyers averaged a mean annual salary of $152,540, landing them in the fifth spot among the highest-paid across the country. Lawyers working in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area make an even higher average annual salary, at $182,160. To learn how to join the ranks of Connecticut attorneys and become one of them, read on.


 

Step 1

Get Your Connecticut Undergraduate Pre-Law Major

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.

Accreditation

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:

  • Philosophy
  • Communications
  • Political Science/Government
  • History
  • English
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Degree Options

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.


  
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Step 2

LSAT (Law School Admission Test) in Connecticut

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 at various 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:

Exam content

This is what you can expect to encounter on the LSAT:

  • Logical Reasoning - Two sections of 25 questions each. You must analyze statements for logical errors.
  • Analytical Reasoning – One section of 24 items. You must solve complex puzzles involving deductive reasoning.  
  • Reading Comprehension – One section of about 28 items. You must read long, complex passages and answer questions based upon those passages.  
  • Experimental Section- This can consist of any of the above types of questions. This section is not graded. However, you will not know which section is the experimental section, so try your best on every section of the test.
  • Writing Sample – You will be allotted a half-hour to write an essay on a given topic.  This section will not be scored, but is sent with your application to law schools and will be reviewed by admissions personnel.

Application process

Applications for the LSAT are processed online. You must pay a fee of $190 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 June, July, September, November, January and March. Listed below are LSAT Test Centers in Connecticut:

  • University of Bridgeport, Bridgeport
  • Fairfield University, Fairfield
  • Charter Oak State College, New Britain
  • Quinnipiac University School of Law, Hamden
  • Wesleyan University, Middletown
  • Yale University, New Haven
  • Connecticut College, New London
  • University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • University of Hartford, West Hartford
  • University of New Haven, West Haven

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: 156
Quinnipiac University School of Law: 152
Yale University:        173

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Step 3

Go to Law School in Connecticut

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Application process

The Connecticut Bar Examining Committee of the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch 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 the more than 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 $195 for this valuable service. It is payable online through your LSAC account (created when you registered for the LSAT).

Accreditation

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 neighboring non-ABA accredited law school and will accept graduates from this 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

Course requirements

Committee-approved law schools will offer course work surrounding the following fields in a curriculum:

  • Economics
  • Business
  • Environmental law
  • Lawyering skills and procedure
  • Criminal law and procedure
  • Civil law and procedure
  • Constitutional law
  • International law
  • Human rights
  • Intellectual property law
  • Family law
  • Contracts
  • Real property
  • Torts
  • Wills, trusts and estates

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.

Internship

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.  

Degree Programs

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:

  • Certificates:
    • Intellectual Property Certificate
    • Tax Studies Certificate
    • Law and Public Policy Certificate
    • Human Rights Certificate
    • Energy and Environmental Law Certificate
  • Dual Degree Programs:
    • J.D. /L.L.M. (Master of Laws)  in Insurance Law
    • J.D. /M.A. (Master of Arts) in Public Policy
    • J.D. /Master of Business Administration (J.D. /M.B.A.)
    • J.D. /Master of Library Science (J.D./M.L.S.)
    • J.D. /Master of Public Administration (J.D./M.P.A.)
    • J.D. /Master of Public Health (J.D./M.P.H.)
    • J.D/ Master of Social Work (J.D./M.S.W)

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Step 4

Take the Connecticut State Bar Exam

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.

Preparation

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:

  • Connecticut Bar Exam Prep Course, BARBRI, online and North Haven, Hartford, New Haven
  • Connecticut Bar Exam Review Course, Themis Bar Review, online
  • Connecticut Bar Review Course, AmeriBar, online and in-person options

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.

Exam content

Connecticut administers the Uniform Bar Exam.  is given over two days each February and July. Exam sites are located in Hartford and Waterbury. The format is as follows:

Application Process

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 $800. Additional forms you will need to download are here. When filling out the application, remember to:

  • Sign the Acknowledgment of Application and Authorization and Release before a notary public
  • En close a certified check or money order for $800 payable to the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee
  • Have your law school complete Form 4, Certificate of Dean of Law School verifying your completion of the program and receipt of J.D. degree and return it directly to the Committee
  • Give a Form 11, Employer Reference Form, to each employer you have had over the past five years. They must complete the form and return it directly to the Committee.
  • Attach additional forms as necessary to explain answers
  • Submit a handwriting specimen where indicated on the application
  • Mail everything to: Connecticut Bar Examining Committee, (Insert exam Month & Year) Application Department, 100 Washington St., 1st Floor, Hartford, CT 06106-4411

Pass Rates

The results of your bar exam will be mailed to you about nine weeks post-exam, and will also be posted at the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee website. Results of the most recent Connecticut bar exams are as follows, according to the Committee:

Bar Exam Date    Overall Pass Rate
July 2016:     69%
February 2017:  50%
July 2017:  70%
February 2018:   40%

Additionally, for the February 2018 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  63%
Quinnipiac School of Law  61%

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. 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:

  • Receive a J.D. degree from a Committee-approved law school
  • Have good moral character
  • Be admitted to the bar in a jurisdiction that would admit qualified Connecticut attorneys (known as a reciprocal jurisdiction), or be a member of the faculty of an approved law school, within 10 years of applying for admission to the Connecticut bar
  • Receive a score of 80 on the MPRE or a grade of C in an approved professional responsibility course

As of 2018, 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, NJ, NM, NY, NH, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY
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, 1st Floor, 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:

  • Have been admitted before the highest court of original jurisdiction in a U.S. state, DC, Puerto Rico, or a U.S. District Court for 10 or more years
  • Be in good standing in that jurisdiction
  • Have actively practiced law in that jurisdiction for five of the last seven years
  • Intend to actively practice law in Connecticut and to devote the majority of your work to this practice

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.”

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Step 5

Now that You’ve Been Admitted to the Connecticut Bar

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 2018 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):

  • Center for Children’s Advocacy
  • Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Inc.
  • Connecticut Veterans Legal Center
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • State of Connecticut Judicial Branch
  • University of Connecticut School of Law Tax Clinic

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:

  • Wilson, Elser in Stamford
  • Cummings & Lockwood in Stamford
  • Robinson & Cole in Hartford
  • Wiggin and Dana, LLP in New Haven, Stamford, Hartford, and Greenwich

Companies in Connecticut that may hire attorneys include:

  • Maxum Petroleum in Greenwich
  • The Hartford in Hartford
  • Ironwood Capital in Avon
  • Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals in Ridgefield
  • Allied World Assurance Company in Farmington

Legal specialty certification

You might want to become certified to practice in a specialty area of the law. The National Board of Trial Advocacy provides certification opportunities for qualified attorneys to specialize in civil, criminal, and family trial law; social security disability advocacy; truck accident law, and civil trial law advocacy. You must pass an examination to become certified.

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 January 2019.

Requirements for maintaining license

The Connecticut Judicial Branch requires lawyers to earn 12 Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) credits each year and to track credits for at least seven years. The Connecticut Bar Association can help you find CLE that is accredited and approved, both in-person and online. It also offers a free CLE Credit Tracker to keep track of your MCLE.

Court Systems in Connecticut

There are four levels in the Connecticut Judicial Branch: Probate Court, Superior Court, Appellate Court, and Supreme Court.

  • Probate Court handles cases affecting children, the elderly, and people with intellectual disabilities and mental illness. They have jurisdiction over trusts and estates, guardianships and conservatorships, parental cases and other matters. The Office of the Probate Court Administrator is at 186 Newington Road, West Hartford, CT 06110
  • Superior Court has four sub-courts:
  • Appellate Court handles appeals of decisions of the lower courts. It is located at 75 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106
  • Supreme Court is the highest court in Connecticut and handles direct appeal matters as well as any matters it transfers to itself from the Appellate Court. It is located at 231 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106.

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:

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Connecticut Resources

General Resources

Law Exams

Lawyer Career Specialties

  CT Statistics:
 
CT Active Lawyers 20,585
Average Annual Wage $145,960
  

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