Follow the step by step process or choose what situation that best describes you:
According to the South Carolina Bar, the organization started as an organization of 200 lawyers in 1884. In 2012, the bar has over 14,000 members. The South Carolina Labor Department says that lawyers in the state have a bright outlook statewide over the next decade, with an expectation of an average of 213 jobs for lawyers available each year through 2020. The South Carolina Department of Employment & Workforce says that as of 2011, lawyers in the state earned an average annual salary of $107,100. As of July 2012, the counties with the largest number of jobs available for lawyers in South Carolina were Richland, Charleston, and Greenville. If you would like to become a practicing lawyer and bar member in South Carolina, and possibly claim one of those over 200 estimated jobs per year, read on.
The South Carolina Office of Bar Admissions has not mandated any undergraduate education necessary prior to law school education for admission to the state’s bar. The office does, however, mandate that you graduate from a law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Because the ABA requires that you have at least a bachelor’s degree before being admitted to any ABA-approved law school, it follows, then, that you must complete undergraduate education.
Make sure that the undergraduate institution from which you graduate is accredited by an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Requirements and Standards
There are no strict guidelines on courses that you must take as an undergraduate. Some students have found that the following types of courses taken as an undergraduate have helped them the most when they get to law school: criminal justice, economics, political science and government, history, world cultures, communications and philosophy.
You may receive a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) in any major you choose. Often, majors taken from the above-mentioned course areas are the most helpful to students once they reach law school.
The next step along the way to becoming a South Carolina lawyer is to pass the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). All ABA-approved law schools nationwide require that you pass this six-hour-long standardized test prior to acceptance.
How to prepare
The LSAT website supplies numerous study aids free of charge. These include practice tests along with samples questions and answer explanations. If you would like more help in preparing for the LSAT, South Carolina resources include:
LSAT Exam Prep Courses in South Carolina:
The LSAT is made up of five 35-minute sections containing multiple-choice questions. Only four of these sections count towards your LSAT score, but you will not know which section does not count, so treat every section as if it counts. Sections include Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, Logical Reasoning and Writing a 35-minute essay. Although the writing section also does not count towards your LSAT score, all law schools that you apply to receive a copy of the essay you write – so make sure to do your best work.
Applications are processed online by the Law School Admission Council when you sign up to take the LSAT. It is given in February, June, October and December, on Saturdays and Wednesdays. The following centers across South Carolina offer LSAT testing:
Receiving Your Score
Expect to receive your LSAT scores by mail about 21 days post-test. The lowest you can score is 120, and the highest, 180. Average LSAT scores of new admittees to South Carolina ABA-approved law schools include:
Law School Application process
The next step in becoming a lawyer in South Carolina is to apply to an ABA-approved law school. You need not apply only to South Carolina-based ABA-approved law schools – you may attend any law school nationwide, as long as it holds ABA approval, under South Carolina’s bar admission rules. There are over 200 such schools, listed here.
Credential Assembly Service
All ABA-approved law schools nationwide require that you utilize the Law School Admission Council’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) when you apply for enrollment. It is a great help to you in collecting your undergraduate college transcripts, gathering letters of recommendation from references, and gathering evaluations of your work from references. The CAS will create up to five law school reports to send to up to five ABA-approved law schools to which you apply.
The South Carolina Office of Bar Admissions says that you must receive a Juris Doctor (JD) or Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from a law school that was approved by the Council of Legal Education of the American Bar Association at the time you received the degree, in order to be eligible to take the state’s bar exam. If you graduated from a non-ABA-approved law school in the United States, or a foreign law school, you are not eligible to take the South Carolina bar examination.
ABA-Accredited Law Schools in South Carolina
Two schools in South Carolina hold ABA-accreditation:
Law school courses that are usually common to all ABA-approved institutions include:
Online Law Degrees
Depending upon your law school’s requirements, you may be exposed to a practical situation in which you work in the law field. During most internships or externships, you work about eight hours weekly at law firms, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. Work usually consists of helping lawyers in research and drafting, and learning lawyer skills through observation (including negotiation, counseling and interviewing). You will check in from time to time with law school faculty to review your performance and will receive a grade on your experience.
Under Rule 403 of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules, before appearing alone in any matter in any South Carolina court, you must complete four trial experiences. After completing half the credits you will need for graduation, you may, as a law student, begin to accumulate your necessary trial experiences. Internships, externships and the like may also help you in this regard. Trial experiences you must complete are:
Once you have completed each of your Trial Experiences, you must have this Certificate completed by the court clerk, judge and others involved.
J.D. Degree Programs
You must have a JD or LLB under South Carolina rules before bar admission will be considered. Often, dual degree programs are offered, which increase your marketability as a lawyer after graduation. They may include:
If you are at least 21 years old and have completed steps 1, 2 and 3, you are now eligible to take the South Carolina bar exam. Although the South Carolina Office of Bar Admissions places no limit on the number of times you can take the state bar exam, after failing for three times they require that you complete additional study. You may only sit for the South Carolina bar exam one time per year.
Non-ABA approved law school graduates
If your law school was not approved by the ABA at the time you received your JD degree, you are not eligible to sit for the South Carolina bar exam.
Graduates of Foreign Law Schools
If you received your law degree from a law school outside of the United States, you are not eligible to sit for the South Carolina bar exam.
The National Conference of Bar Examiners website offers helpful, free study aids for the national part of the South Carolina bar exam (the Multistate Bar Examination, more commonly known as the MBE). Additional preparation help for the bar exam in South Carolina is available through:
You will take the South Carolina bar exam over three days. Day one is devoted to the MBE, with 200 multiple-choice questions on Contracts, Torts, Criminal Law, Evidence, Constitutional Law, and Property. You must receive a scaled score of at least 125 to pass the MBE.
Days 2 and 3 consist of the South Carolina Essay Exam. You are given a number of essays (four to eight) on a given subject and asked to write them within a two-hour period. Subjects covered on Day 2 are usually Agency and Corporations, Domestic Relations and Equity, and Wills, Trusts and Estates. Day 3 questions usually concern UCC Articles 2, 9, 3, and 4; Insurance, Federal Practice and South Carolina Civil Procedure. You must receive a score of 70 out of a possible 100 points to pass the essay section.
File the correct Bar Examination application for the month and year you wish to take the bar exam (applications are posted on the SC Judicial Department Office of Bar Admissions website). Along with your completed application:
Mail everything to Office of Bar Admissions, Supreme Court of South Carolina, P.O. Box 11330, Columbia, SC 29211.
If you take the February bar exam, expect to receive your scores via mail within eight weeks. If you take the July exam, scores usually take 12 weeks to reach you. The Supreme Court of South Carolina published the following bar exam results from recent bar administrations, noting the percentage of applicants from state law schools who passed the exam:
Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)
You must also pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) with a scaled score of at least 77 within four years of the date you file your application for bar admission in South Carolina. The test is given in March, August and November. South Carolina testing centers for 2012 include:
For more information or to schedule the MPRE, visit the National Conference of Bar Examiners website.
Admission on Motion
South Carolina does not provide admission on motion (that is, admission without examination) for those already licensed as lawyers elsewhere. The exception to this rule is if you are a dean or a tenured professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law and meet the following conditions:
South Carolina also offers limited licenses for law school clinic program teachers, in-house counsel, and for retired or inactive lawyers who are working for state legal services organizations or the bar’s pro bono program. These applicants may be issued a limited certificate to practice law.
Licensing and Admission to the Bar
Before being admitted to the South Carolina bar, you must complete a Bridge the Gap program. Sponsored by the South Carolina bar, this program focuses on practical skills used by lawyers. You will be taught about professional responsibility issues, review the South Carolina Court System and review arbitration and mediation. You may register for the program in your second and third year of law school, as well as after graduating from law school. Bridge the Gap is usually offered in Columbia and Charleston over a three-day period.
Congratulations on your new status as a member of the South Carolina Bar! You will find that the bar offers much help in practice management, establishing your own solo practice if that is your goal, mentoring, networking, finding job opportunities, and much more. As a new member of the bar, you must participate in its mandatory New Lawyer Mentoring program. Objectives of your individualized mentoring program set forth in the Supreme Court rules are:
Legal specialty certification
The Supreme Court of South Carolina has set forth rules regarding legal specializations in the following areas:
Each specialization has its own requirements for years that you must have been in practice, involvement, continuing legal education, examination and fees in order for you to attain certification. You may review these rules here. There are also requirements you must fulfill after certification.
Requirements for maintaining license
In order to maintain your law license in South Carolina, you must complete 14 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) per year. At least two of those hours must be in professional responsibility/ethics. CLE may be obtained in a variety of ways, including through live seminars, live webcasts, on-demand seminars, publications, teleseminars and course books direct. For more information, visit the CLE section of the SCBAR website.
Court Systems in South Carolina
The South Carolina Judicial System is structured like this:
Elective membership organizations
Since you are a member of the South Carolina Bar, also think about joining another beneficial organization to your professional career as a South Carolina lawyer, such as:
South Carolina Resources
Lawyer Career Specialties
S Carolina Statistics:
|SC Active Lawyers||14,000+|
|Average Annual Wage||$107,100|