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Job opportunities for lawyers in New Hampshire are expected to grow by 5.4 percent from 2010 through 2020, according to the New Hampshire Employment Security Economic & Labor Market Information Bureau. For the size of the state, this projection is considered to be quite a favorable indication of the health of the lawyer profession in New Hampshire. Currently in the state, lawyers enjoy a mean annual salary of $106,430. Lawyers practicing in the Manchester area make the highest average salaries, at $138,140 annually, while those in the Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH metropolitan area make a higher than average salary of $110,790 yearly. If you would like to learn how to become a lawyer licensed to practice in New Hampshire, read on.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court Office of Bar Admissions requires that you complete at least three years of college credits towards a bachelor’s degree, or obtain the bachelor’s degree, before attending law school and sitting for the New Hampshire bar exam. Because the American Bar Association (ABA) requires that all admittees to their approved law schools need a bachelor’s degree, however, it makes sense to go the full four years and obtain your bachelor’s degree prior to applying to law school.
Most law schools, whether or not they are ABA-approved, require that your undergraduate degree comes from a college or university accredited by a regional or national accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Requirements and Standards
Coursework that you must take in undergraduate school is not specified by the New Hampshire Supreme Court Office or Bar Admissions, or by the ABA. It is highly suggested that you take courses that challenge and interest you, and that help to develop your skills in reading comprehension, critical thinking and analysis, logical reasoning, writing and oral communication, as these skills will be vital to your success in law school.
Pre Law Degree Options
While the only requirement for admission to an ABA-approved law school is that you obtain a bachelor’s degree (regardless of major), some undergraduate majors are more beneficial to you in law school than others are. These include philosophy, political science, history, English, communications, business, and economics.
You have your bachelor’s degree in hand. Now it is time to take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test).
How to prepare
You will find many free, helpful study resources at the LSAT website to help you prepare to take this monumentally important standardized test. If you wish further preparation help in New Hampshire, consult these resources:
LSAT Exam Prep Courses in New Hampshire:
The LSAT is designed to assess your skills of verbal reasoning and reading. Sections in the LSAT include logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and analytical reasoning. You must also create a writing sample (which is not graded as part of your overall LSAT score, but is sent to the law schools to which you apply to give them an idea of your written communication abilities). There are about 100 multiple -choice questions taking 175 minutes to complete, and you are given a half-hour to complete the writing section. Keep in mind that your LSAT score is weighted more heavily than your undergraduate GPA by law schools to which you are applying.
LSAT applications and $160 payment are accepted online at the Law School Admission Council website, where you will create your own LSAC account that you will need now and in the future. Your LSAC account is valid for five years once opened. The LSAT is given in October, December, February and June, on Saturdays and Wednesdays, at the following New Hampshire examination centers:
Receiving Your Score
About three weeks after you take the test, you will find out via mail if you have passed or failed. The score scale for the LSAT is 120 (lowest score possible) to 180 (highest score you can get). The only ABA-approved law school in New Hampshire is the University of New Hampshire School of Law, and the average LSAT score it accepts from new enrollees is 153.
College Application process
Applying to the ABA-approved law schools of your choice is the next step in your quest to become a New Hampshire lawyer. The Supreme Court of New Hampshire’s Bar Admissions Committee has ruled that you must be a graduate of an ABA-approved law school located within the United States (not necessarily within New Hampshire).The only exceptions are if you are a licensed lawyer in Massachusetts who has graduated from one of two non-ABA-approved law schools (see below). A complete listing of the 200 ABA-approved law schools across the country may be found in the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools.
Credential Assembly Service
All applicants to ABA-approved la w schools must use the Law School Admission Council’s online form, the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), when applying for enrollment. Register with the LSAC and pay a $155 fee. The CAS helps to streamline the application process by offering a standardized process to collect your personal information, transcripts, recommendation letters and evaluations, and cover letters for various law schools to which you wish to apply. The CAS will apply electronically for you to the law schools you choose as well.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court’s Bar Admissions Committee requires that you obtain a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from an ABA-approved law school prior to sitting for the state’s bar exam. The only exceptions are if you have already been admitted to the bar in Massachusetts and are a graduate of one of the following non-ABA-approved law schools:
ABA-Accredited Law Schools in New Hampshire
Just one law school in New Hampshire holds ABA accreditation:
The following subjects should be studied in law school, as they will be tested on the New Hampshire bar exam:
Online Law Degrees
Your law school may require that you participate in some sort of internship, externship, clinic or other practical experience situation during your law school years. Clinics allow you to apply your knowledge of the law to real-life legal cases. Internships and externships take this one step further, giving you an opportunity to work in a specialized area of the law that interests you. On-site supervisors and faculty from your law school will assess your performance in any of these practical situations.
J.D. Degree Programs
You must have a JD degree in order to sit for the New Hampshire bar exam. Law schools may offer other degrees, such as dual degrees (a JD combined with another major), certifications or concentrations. Dual degrees for JD students offered at the University of New Hampshire include:
Concentrations offered at the University of New Hampshire for JD students include:
You are now ready to apply to take the New Hampshire Bar Exam. Please note, if you attempt and fail the bar exam four or more times, you will not be allowed to retake it.
New Hampshire requires all applicants to the bar to be domiciled in the United States.
Non-ABA approved law school graduates
Only graduates of two non-ABA-approved law schools in Massachusetts may sit for the bar exam IF they have already been admitted to the Massachusetts bar. All others who apply to take the bar exam must be graduates of ABA-approved law schools. See Step 3 above for more information.
Graduates of Foreign Law Schools
If you are a graduate of a law school outside of the United States, you must meet requirements for reciprocal admission for lawyers who are licensed in other states in order to be eligible for admission to the New Hampshire bar without examination.
If you wish to sit for the New Hampshire bar exam and are a foreign law school graduate, you must be legally trained in common law. Furthermore, you must have the Committee perform a determination of your educational equivalency, be a bar member in good standing in your home jurisdiction, and either have additional education at an ABA-approved law school or be admitted to the bar of another US jurisdiction.
You can find free and helpful study information at the National Conference of Bar Examiners website. Study the sections on theMultistate Essay Exam (MEE), Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). Other information to help you prepare to take New Hampshire’s bar exam includes:
The New Hampshire Bar Exam takes two days to complete. You will take the MPT on the morning of the first day, and the six MEE questions in the afternoon. The second day will consist of the MBE in the morning and afternoon. Subjects that will be tested are listed in Step 3’s “Course Requirements” section above.
American College Testing will grade the MBE part of the test with the results returned to the New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners.
The MPT portion of the test will be graded by the New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners, with each answer assigned a raw score on a scale of 12.
The New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners will also grade the MEE. Each of the six questions are weighted equally and assigned a raw score on a scale of 1 to 6.
Each answer on the MPT and MEE is judged individually, and no grading curve is used. Your raw MPT and MEE scores will be combined to produce a raw score with a maximum of 60. The combined raw MPT and MEE score will then be scaled to the MBE score to produce a scaled score on a scale of 200. A total score of 270 or more on a scale of 400 will constitute a passing score on the New Hampshire Bar Exam.
You may apply to take the New Hampshire bar exam online. Applications will be posted about six months or so before the bar exam is scheduled to occur. Use this checklist to ensure that you have obtained all necessary information before filing your application:
Mail all application materials to Sherry M. Hieber, Esquire, Bar Admissions Administrator, N.H. Supreme Court Office of Bar Admissions, 4 Chenell Drive, Suite 102, Concord, N.H. 03301.
Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)
In addition to passing the New Hampshire Bar Exam, you must successfully pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), with a scaled score of 79. If you are currently in law school, request information from your dean or placement office about where and when to take the test. If you are not currently enrolled in law school, you may apply online to take the MPRE at the following New Hampshire location:
Have you already passed the MPRE in another jurisdiction with a scaled score of at least 79, you may have your score sent to the New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners.
Admission on Motion
If you have already been admitted to the bar in another US jurisdiction, you may be eligible to apply for admission to the New Hampshire bar without examination. You must meet one of the following requirements:
Currently, the only states that DO NOT have reciprocity with New Hampshire are: CA, DE, FL, HI, LA, MD, MT, NV, NJ, NM, OR, RI, SC, VT, WV
If you are already a lawyer practicing in Maine, the following rules apply- you must:
If you are already a lawyer practicing in Vermont, the following rules apply – you must:
For more information on Admission on Motion, contact Sherry M. Hieber, Esq., Bar Admissions Administrator, at email@example.com or (603) 224-8806.
It will take approximately 10 weeks after the bar exam to receive your scores via mail. The Clerk of the Supreme Court will give the Chair of the Board of Bar Examiners names of applicants and their assigned examination numbers. The Chair of the Board of Bar Examiners will notify applicants of their passing status. If you pass, you will only be told that you passed and not told your actual score or ranking. If you did not pass, you will be given a breakdown of your scores by mail about a month after the results are announced.
Passing rates for past New Hampshire Bar Exams are as follows:
Licensing and Admission to the Bar
If you pass the bar exam, you will be notified of the time and place of your bar admission ceremony.
Congratulations on passing the New Hampshire bar exam and becoming a licensed member of the state bar! The New Hampshire Bar Association (NHBA) can assist you greatly as you are starting out in your new career as a lawyer in the state. You must complete a practical skills course given by the NH State Bar within your first two years of practice. The NHBA also offers a variety of programs and services for members, including New Lawyer Programs, law practice management tools, discounts and benefits.
Your career opportunities as a lawyer in New Hampshire are vast. You may opt to begin your own private practice. You may prefer to join an already established law firm, such as multi-practice firm Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell in Concord; the McLane Law Firm multi-practice group in Concord, Manchester and Portsmouth; multi-practice specialists Shaheen & Gordon in Nashua; and corporate lawyers Rath, Young and Pignatelli in Concord and Nashua.
Although New Hampshire is not home to any Fortune 500 companies, opportunities for lawyers may exist in the number of corporations that call the state home. Some of the state’s largest employers include Bottomline Technologies in Portsmouth; eCopy in Nashua; Fisher Scientific International, Inc. in Hampton; Fidelity Investments in Merrimack; and NSS Corporation in Bedford.
Legal Specialty Certification
Do you wish to specialize in a certain area of legal practice? You may want to seek certification through one of the organizations recognized in New Hampshire. The American Board of Certification (ABC) certifies lawyers who want to practice in consumer and business bankruptcy and creditors’ rights. The certification process includes an examination. Contact ABC at (319) 365-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
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) is the recognized provider. Examinations are also required here. Get in touch with New Hampshire’s NBLSC coordinator, Richard E. Fradette, at (603)623-1234 or email@example.com.
Requirements for maintaining license
As a licensed New Hampshire lawyer, you must complete 12 hours per year of Continuing Legal Education (CLE). This must include two hours of ethics. For more information, contact the NHBA’s NHMCLE (New Hampshire Minimum Continuing Legal Education) Department.
Court Systems in New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s Courts are structured like this:
Elective membership organizations
Think about becoming a member of one of these professional lawyer organizations that may be beneficial to your career in New Hampshire:
New Hampshire Resources
Lawyer Career Specialties
|NH Active Lawyers||3,396|
|Average Annual Wage||$106,430|