Follow the step by step process or choose what situation that best describes you:
The Utah State Bar is made up of many different types of lawyers, according to information provided by members for its 2011 membership survey. While about 18 percent of members are solo practitioners, 17 percent work in a small firm with two to five attorneys. Sixteen percent work for government, while 10 percent are acting as in-house counsel. The most popular areas of legal practice among bar members who participated in this survey, in descending order, are bankruptcy, intellectual property, judiciary, personal injury, antitrust law, debtor/creditor law, criminal law, probate, and real property. If you think becoming a Utah lawyer in one of these areas, or another area, is a goal you wish to strive for, read on.
The Utah State Bar Office of Bar Admissions does not require any pre-legal undergraduate education. But, if you wish to attend an ABA-accredited law institution as the regulations of the Office stipulate, you must have a bachelor’s degree prior to applying for enrollment.
Before any ABA-accredited law school will allow you to enroll, it will check to make sure that your undergraduate degree is from an accredited college or university. If your school is accredited by a recognized agency listed with the U.S. Department of Education, such as a national or regional accreditation organization, most ABA-approved law schools will accept your undergraduate education.
Requirements and Standards
There are no prerequisites on undergraduate courses that you must take prior to entering law school. Some undergraduate courses, like criminal justice, philosophy, government, political science, and communications, may help you more than others once you get to law school.
What are the Degree Options?
As long as you have a Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) from an accredited college or university, ABA-accredited law schools will accept your education as valid. You need not have a bachelor degree in any certain field.
The next phase of your quest to become a Utah lawyer is to pass the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). It is given four times annually at testing centers across the United States.
How to prepare for the LSAT
Free study aids are available at the LSAT website and will greatly help you in preparing to take this important test. Other study resources for the LSAT in Utah are:
LSAT Exam Prep Courses in Utah:
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) administers the LSAT, as a standardized test necessary to be admitted to all LSAC member /ABA-approved law schools. There are five 35-minute long sections of multiple-choice questions in this half-day test. Four of the five sections count towards your overall LSAT score. There is one reading comprehension section, one section in analytical reasoning, and two sections in logical reasoning. A fifth section repeats one of the above sections and is experimental and unscored, but you will not be able to tell which is the unscored section. You must also complete a writing sample at the time you take the LSAT. This is not included as part of your overall LSAT score but is sent to law schools to which you apply.
The LSAC requires that you apply online to take the LSAT. It is administered in June, October, December and February, on Saturdays and Wednesdays, at the following examination centers throughout Utah:
Receiving Your Score
About three weeks after you take the exam, you should receive your LSAT score by mail. It will fall in the range from 120 to 180. ABA-approved law schools in Utah typically accept students with the following median LSAT scores:
College Application process
The tertiary step in your expedition to develop into a Utah lawyer is to attend an approved law school. Utah requires that you attend a law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). There are a few exceptions, which will be noted in Step 4. You do not have to attend law school in Utah--as long as it is ABA accredited, you may select any of the over than 200 ABA-accredited law schools listed in the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools.
Credential Assembly Service
All candidates for enrollment to law school must first register with the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS). CAS requires that you have all of your official transcripts from all schools attended (undergraduate and graduate) sent directly to them. They will also help you to collect letters of recommendation and other necessary documentation that law schools ask for when you apply. The CAS will compile all of your data into a concise but complete law school report to send to the schools to which you apply. They will produce up to five such reports for you.
The Utah State Bar Office of Bar Admissions requires that the law school from which you receive your first professional law degree is approved, which means that it must be accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Foreign law school graduates may be excepted from this rule, which will be explained later in Step 4.
ABA-Accredited Law Schools in Utah
Two law schools in Utah are ABA accredited:
The Utah State Bar Office of Bar Admissions expects that you will complete the following foundational law coursework while in an ABA-approved law school:
Online Law Degrees
Most law schools also require that you complete some sort of practical work experience during your law school years. Each school’s mandates on this are different. In your clinical program, you may be exposed to law clinics where you work with real cases, off-campus law offices in which you assist real-life attorneys, governmental agencies in which you work in a legal capacity, or other real-life situations in which lawyers in Utah might find themselves. Your practical work will be graded by a member of your law school’s faculty as well as by an on-site supervisor.
Degree Programs for Lawyer Career
You must obtain your first professional law degree, a Juris Doctor (JD) (also known as a Doctor of Jurisprudence) before taking the Utah bar exam. Your school may offer other options in addition to the JD, including concentrations and dual degrees. Check with your school for its opportunities in this area. For example, the University of Utah offers:
After obtaining your law degree, and if you are at least 21 years of age, you are eligible to take the Utah bar examination. If you have not yet completed all requirements for your degree, but will complete them prior to taking the exam, you may still apply to take the exam. You must file a certificate of law school graduation with the Bar by 30 days before the bar exam.
While Utah does not have a residency requirement per se, you must be able to prove that you are a legal United States resident prior to taking the bar exam.
Non-ABA approved law school graduates
Under certain circumstances, the Bar may approve graduates of non-ABA approved law schools to take the bar exam on a case-by-case basis. Additional education may be required to be completed prior to taking the exam.
Graduates of Foreign Law Schools
If you are a graduate of a foreign law school, you must meet the following requirements prior to taking the Utah bar exam:
The National Conference of Bar Examiners website offers information to help you prepare for the following portions of the Utah bar exam: the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) and the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE). Other preparation resources for the Utah bar exam include:
You will take the Utah bar exam over a two-day period. One day is devoted to writing (seven hours), while the other day is devoted to the multiple-choice MBE (six hours).
Day One of the exam, the written component, consists of eight essay questions and two MPT questions. You have 30 minutes to answer each essay question. Essay questions will have both MEE and Utah essay topics, and may include:
The MPT is allotted one and a half hours per question. It consists of performing a lawyer’s task and involves skills such as problem solving, analyzing facts, legal analysis, reasoning, written communication, organizing and managing a legal task, and recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas.
Day Two, consisting of the MBE, asks 200 multiple-choice questions on the following legal areas:
Pass Rates for Utah Bar
It generally takes about eight weeks to receive your Utah bar exam scores by mail after you take the exam. The written portion of the exam and MBE portion raw scores will be converted to scaled scores. The maximum scaled score you can get on each portion is 200 points. You must have a combined scaled score of 270 to pass the Utah bar exam.
Results of previous Utah bar exams are as follows (per Adaptibar):
Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)
Within 2 years of taking the Utah bar exam, you must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) with a scaled score of at least 86. You must apply online with the NCBE to take this test, offered four times annually in locations throughout Utah.
Admission on Motion
If you are already a licensed attorney elsewhere, you may be eligible for Admission by Motion (without taking the Utah bar exam). You must meet these conditions:
Applications for admission by motion can be submitted at any time throughout the year. They take three months to process. You must submit the application with a fee of $850. Use the same Application for Admission used by exam applicants.
If you meet the above qualifications but have only practiced for four of the past five years, you may elect to take the Attorney Bar Examination. This contains only the written portion of the Student Bar Examination. You must receive a scaled score of at least 135 to take this exam, which costs $850.
Licensing and Admission to the Bar
Once you pass the Utah bar exam, you will be notified of the time, place and date of your bar admission ceremony. Licensing ceremonies are held twice yearly, in May and October. You must take an oath and sign the roll of attorneys maintained by the clerk of the Supreme Court. This must be completed within 18 months of filing your Application for Admission to the Bar.
Wow- you’ve done it! You are now a licensed lawyer and member of the Utah State Bar! As a new admittee, you must complete a mandatory New Lawyer Training Program (NLTP) within your first year of practice. This program pairs new lawyers with more experienced lawyers for individual, personal guidance in learning lawyering skills, judgment, professionalism, ethics and civility necessary to practice in a competent manner. Through the NLTP, you will learn to build developmental networks and long-term mentoring relationships that will help you throughout your career as a Utah lawyer.
Your mentor can help you in making a decision about where you want to work. You might decide to start your own practice, begin a practice with a colleague, or join an established legal firm. Firms across Utah with well-respected names include corporate and real estate firm Ray Quinney & Nebeker PC in Provo and Salt Lake City; corporate law firm Stoel Rives LLP in Salt Lake City; the multipractice Christensen Law Firm in Draper; criminal defense lawyers Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP in Salt Lake City; and bankruptcy/creditors rights specialists Dorsey & Whitney, LLP in Salt Lake City.
As a Utah lawyer, you may also opt to work for a for-profit or non-profit company. Many non-profit organizations exist across the state that may need legal assistance from time to time. They include Special Olympics Utah in Salt Lake City; Utah Association for Justice in Salt Lake City; Prevent Child Abuse Utah in Ogden; International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City; and the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome in Farmington.
The 2011 Utah State Bar Member Survey found that an overwhelming majority (91 percent) of members was white, and a majority (76 percent) of members was male. The Bar is actively working to recruit new members of varying ethnic backgrounds and females, in order to increase diversity in the legal profession in Utah.
Legal specialty certification
As a Utah lawyer, you may choose to specialize in various areas of the law. Under Utah Rules, you must become certified as a specialist by an organization that has been accredited by the ABA before advertising yourself as such. ABA-approved certification organizations include:
Requirements for maintaining license
The Utah State Bar CLE (Continuing Legal Education ) Department requires all lawyers to complete 24 hours of CLE every two years. This must include two hours of ethics and one hour of professionalism. Your New Lawyer Training Program satisfies the first year’s CLE requirement. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Court Systems in Utah
Utah State Courts are organized like this:
Elective membership organizations
Here are a few other membership associations for Utah attorneys with which you might wish to associate yourself:
Lawyer Career Specialties
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