Follow the step by step process or choose what situation that best describes you:
There are many reasons that you might want to become a lawyer in Michigan. Certainly, the annual mean salary of $110,010 (per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, circa May 2011) is appealing. However, many students wish to enter the legal profession to help others who may not be able to afford legal help. Recently, Legal Services of Northern Michigan noted that the need for pro bono legal services in Michigan is growing. Lawyers in pro bono cases often take on divorce issues, mediation, and other civil or criminal cases in which those in need cannot afford to pay legal fees. Organizations in Michigan offering pro bono legal services include Legal Services of Northern Michigan, the Pro Bono Initiative of the State Bar of Michigan, Counsel and Advocacy Law Line, Lakeshore Legal Aid, and the Center for Dispute Resolution. Whether you wish to eventually work for profit, for non-profit, or pro bono, the following steps will help you achieve your goal of becoming a Michigan lawyer.
The Michigan Board of Law Examiners requires that you complete a minimum of two years of undergraduate school (60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours) before you apply to law school. Most American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited law schools mandate that you have a bachelor’s degree before entering law school. Check with the law school in which you are interested in attending for more information.
The Michigan Board of Law Examiners says that your undergraduate education must be completed at an accredited college or university. This means that the school must be accredited to grant degrees under the laws of its state. If your college or university is accredited by an agency listed with the U.S. Department of Education’s accreditation database, the Michigan Board of Law Examiners will recognize the validity of your undergraduate education.
Requirements and Standards
There is no pre-ordained pre-law educational program that you must take in order to be admitted to law school. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and the ABA have both recommended certain types of coursework that should be taken and skills that should be honed during your undergraduate pre-law education. Introductory law and criminal justice courses are helpful, as are courses in political science and government. Coursework in mathematics and economics are recommended. Other courses that many pre-law students take are concentrated in American and world history, urban development, international studies, sociology, and oral and written communications.
Law schools are not looking to see that you completed the requirements for a particular undergraduate major when you apply for admission. Some universities offer a “pre-law” major, while others have pre-law advisors who will help you to choose the best courses to help you gain entry into and succeed in law school. Undergraduate majors chosen from the above-mentioned curricula areas are often the most helpful to students, giving them a solid background as they enter law school.
The next step along the pathway to becoming a lawyer in Michigan is to sit for the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test. This standardized admission test for law schools is offered four times per year worldwide.
How to prepare
Some of the best study materials for the LSAT are provided free of charge at the LSAT website. These include sample questions and answers and practice tests. Other study resources in Michigan to help you prepare for the LSAT include:
LSAT Exam Prep Courses in Michigan:
You will be given four hours to complete the LSAT. Sections on the LSAT focus on reading comprehension, analytical reasoning and logical reasoning. In addition, you will be asked for a writing sample, in the form of an essay. While this part of the LSAT is not graded as part of your overall LSAT score, it will be presented to the law schools to which you apply.
You may apply online with the LSAC and pay the $160 examination fee when you are ready to sit for the LSAT. It is offered twice a week four times per year, in February, June, October and December. Centers in Michigan administering the LSAT include:
Receiving Your Score
Your LSAT scores will be mailed to you about three weeks after you complete the exam. The lowest LSAT score possible is 120 and the highest, 180. Average LSAT scores accepted by Michigan law schools are:
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor:||167-170|
|Michigan State University:||152-160|
|Ave Maria School of Law:||146-153|
|Thomas M. Cooley Law School:||143-151|
|University of Detroit Mercy:||147-156|
|Wayne State University:||155-159|
You are now ready to apply to law school. While you need not apply to ABA-approved law schools, the school you choose must be “reputable and qualified” under Michigan rules. ABA-approved law schools automatically fit this rule. You may attend any of the 200 ABA-approved law schools across the United States. Check out this list of services each law school requires upon admission.
Credential Assembly Service
If you are applying to a law school accredited by the ABA, you must use the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service. This service assists you in collecting your transcripts from all schools you have attended, letters of recommendation, and online evaluations. It even applies to the law schools you choose online. You must pay the LSAC a $155 fee to use this service.
The Michigan Board of Law Examiners has ruled that all applicants to take the state’s bar exam must have a J.D. (Juris Doctor) degree from a “reputable and qualified law school.” Law schools fully or provisionally approved by the ABA on the date that you receive your J.D. are considered by the Board to be reputable and qualified. The ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools lists all ABA-approved law schools across the nation.
ABA-Accredited Law Schools in Michigan
The following law schools in Michigan are accredited by the American Bar Association:
The following subjects are tested on the Michigan bar exam and will be included in the curriculum at any Michigan law school:
Online Law Degrees
You will participate in an internship (paid or unpaid, depending upon your law school’s policies) during your tenure at law school. You will either work in an in-house legal clinic or be placed into a real-life lawyer’s work setting. Your performance will be based upon your knowledge and retention of the knowledge and skills you have learned in class. You will be graded by a supervisor and a faculty member who will assess your progress throughout the internship.
The Michigan Board of Law Examiners requires that you obtain a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree prior to sitting for the state’s bar exam.
Foreign Law Schools
Graduates of foreign law schools are not eligible for admission to the Michigan bar.
Non-ABA-accredited Law Schools
If you attended a non-ABA-accredited law school, consult the Board to make sure that it considers your school to be “reputable and qualified.”
Once you have earned your J.D. degree, you are ready to apply to sit for the Michigan bar exam.
You may purchase copies of questions and answers from past bar exams from the Michigan Board of Law Examiners. The request to do so must be made in writing and accompanied by a $10 check made payable to the State of Michigan. Send your request and fee to the Board of Law Examiners at P.O. Box 30052, Lansing, MI 48909. Other options for bar exam preparation in Michigan are:
You will take the Michigan bar exam over a two-day period. The first day is devoted to fifteen state law essay questions, covering any of the following topics:
Day Two of the exam is devoted to the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), 200 multiple-choice questions on the following topics:
The steps in applying to take the Michigan bar exam are as follows:
TheBarExam.com gathered the following pass rates for the Michigan bar exam from prior years:
|July 2010:||80 percent passed the exam|
Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)
You must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) before sitting for the bar exam, with a score of 85 or more. It is offered in March, August and November at these Michigan testing sites. Apply online at the above link:
Admission Without Exam
If you meet all of the following qualifications, you may be eligible for admission to Michigan’s bar without taking the bar examination:
If you are licensed elsewhere as a lawyer and which to practice law in an institutional setting or teach in a law school, you may be eligible for a special certificate. This will limit your practice in Michigan to solely representing the institution by which you are employed.
If you have been admitted to practice law in a foreign country, have actively practiced law there for three of the past five years, live in the U.S. and plan to maintain a law practice in Michigan, you may be eligible to practice as a special legal consultant in Michigan.
Contact the Board for more information on Admission Without Examination.
Licensing and Admission to the Bar
You will receive your bar exam scores by mail about eight weeks post-exam. If you pass, you will be notified of the time and place where you will make your oath to the court and enter into the Michigan bar. Once you are admitted to the bar by the court, you must then complete an application for membership in the State Bar of Michigan and pay dues of $315 per year.
You have made it! You are now a licensed lawyer in the state of Michigan! You must now decide whether to start your own legal practice or join an existing one. Perhaps you would rather work as legal counsel for a for-profit or non-profit company in Michigan. All of these avenues are open to you as a Michigan bar member.
The Michigan State Bar’s 2010 Economics of Law Practice Survey found that 68.1 percent of all lawyers in the state worked as private practitioners, while 31.9 percent were not in private practice. Of those not working in a private law firm, employers included in-house counsel, legal service agencies, local and state government, judges, other judicial settings, federal government, academia, and other legal work.
Existing law firms in Michigan include comprehensive services practice Foster Swift in Lansing, Farmington Hills, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Marquette, and Holland; Schwartz Law Firm in Farmington Hills, specializing in family law, employment law and criminal law; estate planners the O’Bryan Law Firm in Davison; and bankruptcy and family lawyers the Haskell Law Firm in Taylor.
Private law practitioners in Michigan reported performing 1373 hours of pro bono legal work in 2010. Non-private practitioners reported 248 hours. Areas of Michigan where the most pro bono legal work was performed include downtown Detroit, Oakland County, the Grand Rapids area, and the Lansing area.
Legal specialty certification
If you wish to specialize in an area of law practice, the following agencies provide certification services for Michigan lawyers:
Requirements for maintaining license
No continuing legal education (CLE) is required to maintain your law license and bar admission status in Michigan.
Court Systems in Michigan
Michigan’s One Court of Justice, otherwise known as its court system, consists of:
Elective membership organizations
Think about joining one of the following elective membership organizations for attorneys in Michigan:
Lawyer Career Specialties
|MI Active Lawyers||N/A|
|Average Annual Wage||$110,010|