Follow the step by step process or choose what situation that best describes you:
The American Bar Association reports that 2978 lawyers practiced in the state of Delaware in 2017. 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 fifth highest salary for attorneys in any state. The average lawyer in Delaware made a mean annual wage of $157,610. 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 defense 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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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 Sample Tests also offer 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:
Three crucial skills that are the backbone of any lawyer’s success are measured when you take the LSAT. They include:
Applications to sit for the LSAT are accepted online. The LSAT is given in the United States on Mondays and Saturdays in June, July, September, November, January and March. 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:
The fee to sit for the LSAT in April 2012 is $190. You may pay this fee 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 beginning the day after the test to six calendar days after the test. You must log into your LSAC.org account to cancel your score during this time period.
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.
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.
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:
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 over 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:
Under ABA Standards Chapter 3, your law school must require courses in these areas:
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
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.
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:
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:
Law schools also commonly offer the following degrees if you do not plan to practice as a lawyer:
If you already have your J.D. but wish to further your law education, the following degrees might be for you:
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.
Just as it was important to prepare for the LSAT, it is vital to have excellent preparation for the Delaware Bar Exam. Bar exam prep courses and resources in Delaware include:
You will take the Delaware Bar Exam in five three-hour segments over two and one-half days. Previous bar exam questions may be viewed here. The exam is in three parts:
The first day you must answer eight Delaware essay questions. Subjects may include:
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:
You will also complete 200 multiple-choice questions from the MBE (Multistate Bar Examination), developed by the NCBEX. Subjects that may be included are:
Also make sure to have your final law school transcript and Preceptor’s Certificate to the Board by July 1.
According to the Delaware Board of Bar Examiners, the 2017 pass rate for first time bar exam takers was 76%. The Board maintains a list of passing applicants for the past two years here.
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 $125 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 Subject Matter Outline for more information. Available test centers will be listed in your MPRE account after you begin the registration process to take the exam.
Bridge the Gap Pre-Admission Conference
Prior to admission to the Bar, you must attend the Delaware Supreme Court's mandatory two-day Pre-Admission Conference. More information is available from the Board by phoning (302) 651-3939.
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."
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. 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. Over sixty-six percent of all Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware and becoming legal counsel for one of them can be quite the accomplishment for a new attorney. Examples include: chemical and pharmaceutical giant DuPont in Wilmington and asset management company Navient Corporation in Wilmington.
The Delaware Department of Labor predicts about 170 job openings per year from 2016 to 2026 for lawyers across the state.
Legal specialty certification
If you choose to specialize in a legal area, you may seek certification through the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Areas of specialization available through this organization include civil trial law, criminal trial law, family trial law, truck accident law, civil practice, and social security disability law.
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.
Elective membership organizations
Members of the Delaware Bar might also consider joining the following elective professional membership organizations for attorneys in Delaware:
Lawyer Career Specialties
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