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The Tiers of Law Schools

Law school is an ambitious and costly endeavor. When putting so much time and money into a law degree, law students want to ensure their investment pays off with employment at a reputable law firm. One of the ways students do this is to seek admission at top-tier law schools. But how is this top tier determined, and what does it mean if a school is not in this top tier? The tiers of law schools can help students make admission decisions, but the law-school tier a student chooses does not necessarily seal her employment fate.

Ranking Law Schools

  • Law schools are ranked based on a number of factors, including faculty, selectivity, quality and post-graduate placement success. Student-to-faculty ratio matters, with higher rankings given to schools with fewer students per teacher and more library resources. Schools that accept students with higher LSAT scores and GPAs are also ranked higher. Impressions of the school from law institutions, practicing lawyers and judges also highly influence a school’s rank. Finally, the rate at which a school’s students pass the bar exam and subsequently get hired at law firms helps to determine the school ranking.

Top Tier Schools

  • The top 100 law schools in the nation, ranked based on the factors listed in Section 1, comprise the first tier of law schools, or Tier 1. The tier 1 law schools are ranked each year. The highest-ranked law schools are a list of “usual suspects,” including Harvard Law, Yale Law, Stanford Law, and Columbia University. Admission into any of the top 100 schools is said to all but guarantee a positive outcome at graduation.

Second, Third and Fourth Tier Schools

  • Beyond the top-100 ranked schools, law schools are ranked into second, third and fourth tiers. Opinions differ on whether or not acceptance into any school other than a tier 1 law school will impact your career’s success. Although acceptance into the schools ranked in the second, third and fourth tiers may not guarantee employment at the nation’s top law firms (acceptance into a tier 1 school doesn’t necessarily guarantee this either), it does not rule out a successful career. Many law schools, although ranked in the lower tiers, produce smart lawyers that enjoy local success.

Weighing Your Options

  • A prospective law student’s options depend greatly on his grades and ambitions. However, it is recommended that law students apply to at least two “reach” schools, two “strong possibility” schools and three “safety” schools. In general, “reach” schools will likely be tier 1 schools, but not necessarily. Some students may be bound by geographical location. Law students can decide how to classify their law-school choices based upon the tiers.

How to Dress for an Interview at a Law Firm

The legal profession is known for being fairly conservative, and you should dress for an interview accordingly. Richard Ikka of the University of Wisconsin conducted a review of the literature and found that occupational stereotypes exist with respect to appearance and dress: An interviewee who “looks the part” is more likely to get hired, and appropriate attire has even more influence than attractiveness on interviewer hiring decisions. It is virtually impossible to dress too conservatively for an interview at a law firm, but you can definitely create a bad impression by being overly casual.

Instructions

  1. Choose a classic business suit in traditional dark colors such as black, grey or navy. Select a plain or pinstriped suit, and avoid outlandish or distracting pattern choices. Women should wear a well-fitting skirt suit, and the length of the skirt should be no greater than an inch above or below your knees. Men should consider a tailored suit for appropriate fit.
  2. Pair a plain white, ivory or light blue long-sleeved shirt with your suit. Women can wear a plain top, but avoid low cut or tight-fitting selections. Avoid overly bright or dark colors and steer clear of patterned items.
  3. Shine your shoes. Wear black or brown pumps — with a low, 1- to 2-inch heel — if you are female. Men should choose leather, lace-up shoes; burgundy is also an acceptable color for men, although black shoes are all-purpose and will go with virtually any business suit.
  4. Keep your accessories plain. Ties should be in a solid block color or conservative pattern, avoiding larger patterns, bold prints and swirls. Choose a business-appropriate color that is well coordinated with your outfit, such as blue, green or grey, and avoid bold or bright color choices. Themed novelty ties are not appropriate and bow ties are not advisable either.
  5. Keep jewelry to a minimum for both sexes. Men should wear nothing more than a watch and wedding ring, if applicable. Women may also wear an understated necklace and earrings, but avoid dangly styles or large hoops. Classic studs or small hoops are acceptable choices for a law firm interview.
  6. Get a manicure or give yourself a manicure at home. Your fingernails should be neat, clean and trimmed. Women can select a neutral polish or french manicure, but avoid bright colors, glitter and motifs. Bring a purse or briefcase in plain, neutral colors such as black or brown.

Job Options for a Law Degree

There are many job options for students who graduate with a law degree. Most young workers in these fast-changing times will switch careers several times before they retire. By thinking outside the box, graduates can utilize their professional degree toward a variety of rewarding careers.

Significance

  • Some students leave law school uncertain about whether they wish to practice law. Others may practice for a few years and decide they would like to move in another direction. The practice of law can be stressful, and high rates of depression in the field indicate that it is not for everyone. Moreover, the recent economic slowdown might act as an incentive for law degree holders to consider other options.

Misconceptions

  • Some people believe that a law degree is only useful for a person who wants to be a lawyer. They argue employers will be confused or put off by the fact that an applicant spent three years in law school when he or she did not wish to be a lawyer. The reality is that the problem solving, research and communication skills learned in law school are useful in a variety of vocations.

Traditional Law Firm Jobs

  • The recent slowdown in the economy has made some types of legal jobs harder to attain. However, there are still opportunities for tenacious candidates. Leadership Directories, Inc. puts out a semiannual publication called the Law Firms Yellow Book which lists information on major law firms such as key practice areas, number of attorneys and the managing partner. This is a great option for people who want to use their degree in the practice of law, especially if they know in what field they want to form a specialty.

Government Jobs

  • Another very common area for people with a law degree to find work is with the government. Government agencies such as the CIA, FBI and SEC are eager to hire law-trained individuals. These jobs can be exciting and provide a greater work-life balance than some law firm jobs. A wide variety of government jobs are listed at www.usajobs.com.

Academic Jobs

  • A third common area where law degree holders can build careers is in academia. Graduates can work on campuses as directors, deans, administrators or professors of any subject in which they have a background. Experienced graduates might eventually seek work as a full-time law professor. While a law professor’s salary may be less than that of senior partners or in-house counsel, the work is very rewarding and interesting.

Non-Traditional Jobs

  • When pursuing other, less traditional career paths, it can be helpful to analyze personal strengths and weaknesses. Candidates with law degrees who are considering branching out from the field of law might consider a service such as the Johnson O’Conner Research Foundation, which can help them assess what their aptitudes are and what career might make them happiest.

Legal Aid for Family Law

Family law is complex. Additionally, family law cases tend to be very emotional matters. If you find yourself financially unable to retain a family law attorney, consider obtaining pro bono (no fee) representation or an attorney who charges a reduced fee. There are specific types of legal aid organizations that provide quality, effective and experienced legal representation to individuals and families of limited financial means.

Function

  • The function of legal aid organizations includes providing legal assistance in family law cases of all types. These include divorce, child custody, child visitation and related matters. The typical legal aid organization provides these types of legal representation at no fee or a low fee, based on a client’s income.

Types

  • A common type of legal aid organization is a not-for-profit agency providing a wide range of legal services, from eviction cases to family law cases of all types. A legal aid agency charges no fee or a reduced fee, depending on income. Another type of legal aid program is that offered by a law school. Nearly all law schools in the United States offer clinical programs through which economically disadvantaged clients receive legal services at no cost.

Features

  • A not-for-profit legal aid organization provides you with an attorney to represent your interest in your particular case. A law school legal clinic assigns a law student in her final year to represent your interests in a case. The law student is certified as being qualified to provide you legal assistance. The efforts of the law student are supervised by a duly licensed attorney.

Benefits

  • The benefits of accessing one of these types of legal aid programs is that you obtain experienced representation in your family law matter. You do not have to resort to muddling through a case on your own, not really knowing whether you are making the best decisions about your family law matter.

Warning

  • Contact a legal aid organization in your community immediately upon learning you face a family law case. Do not take any steps on your own behalf in a case prior to consulting with a professional from such an organization. Advise the court and the opposing attorney that you are seeking legal representation and need at least a short period of time to accomplish that task.

How to Become a Criminal Lawyer

Medicine and law are the two professions most people think of when asked to name a successful career choice. Of those who choose the legal profession, many find that becoming a criminal lawyer is the most challenging option, as well as the most rewarding. Being a criminal lawyer also opens the path to a number of future career options, which include defending criminals, prosecuting them or even becoming a judge.

Instructions

  1. Develop good study habits at an early age. The admission exams for most law schools also include a look at your grades going as far back as high school. Poor study habits will reflect negatively on your admission into a top-quality law school. A good general education at the high-school level is sufficient, as long as your grades are good. You may wish to take some extra courses in social studies and public speaking, if they are offered, since this will help you accumulate knowledge and skills that will be useful to you later.
  2. Obtain funding to attend a 4-year university. Grants and student loans are the primary method of funding for most universities. You will need to complete 4 years of college and earn a bachelor’s degree before you can apply to law school. It does not particularly matter what course of study your degree is in, although a degree in criminal justice will be most in tune with the career path of becoming a criminal lawyer.
  3. Take the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT. The LSAT is given four times per year at hundreds of locations across North America. The test is divided into five 35-minute sessions, with each designed to test your aptitude for practicing law. The LSAT exam is used as a benchmark by law schools that are members of the LSAC, by most law schools in Canada and by a number of law schools that have not yet been approved by the ABA. Find out when and where the test will be given by following the LSAT link in the Resources section.
  4. Apply to law school. Be prepared to apply to several schools before you are accepted to one. The legal profession is always in demand, and class sizes are limited. Make sure the school you ultimately select is accredited by the American Bar Association. More information about accredited schools can be found on the ABA website, which is listed in the Resources section.
  5. Complete law school. After selecting a school, you will need to complete 3 years of study. At the end of this period, you will have a law degree. In most cases, you still cannot work as an attorney at this stage, but you can gain experience by working as a paralegal in a criminal lawyer’s office while you wait to take the bar exam.
  6. Pass the state bar exam. Each state has its own exam. You will need to pass this exam in the state(s) where you intend to practice law. The bar exam is often described as being the hardest test you will ever take, and many people have to take the exam several times before they receive a passing grade. After passing this exam, you will receive a license to practice law, and can begin to practice criminal law in that state.

Tips For Choosing The Right Personal Injury Lawyer For Your Case

Choosing the right personal injury lawyer can make the difference between winning and losing a case. Your choice in a lawyer is essential to obtaining what you are rightly entitled to. Because there are a lot of personal injury lawyers in Toronto to choose from, it can be difficult to settle on one to hire. Below are some top tips to use in order to help make the decision a little easier.

Experience

It is a good idea to never underestimate the experience that a lawyer has when it comes to being able to investigate and assess a client’s claim. A good lawyer knows exactly what to look for and where to look. A lawyer’s experience can make all the difference in a case. Every area of the country has different laws and standards related to negligence, statutes of limitations, causation and others which might be very relevant to your particular case.

Focus

For personal injury cases, it may be best to hire a lawyer who’s focus is on that area of practice. It can make a big difference in how your case is settled. Personal injury lawyers have a unique set of skills for these types of cases and are much better equipped at helping their clients value how much compensation they should be entitled to.

Reputation

One of the biggest things to keep in mind when searching for a personal injury lawyer to hire is their reputation. Their reputation can mean all the difference when it comes to getting your case resolved quickly and very fairly. You can ask for information about previous cases from a lawyer to see how well they handled the cases and the outcome of them. Hiring a lawyer with a good, solid reputation is your best chance to recover what you deserve from the case.

Objectivity

When meeting with potential lawyers, be sure they have your objective in mind. Some lawyers are too quick to settle a case because they just want to move on quickly to the next client. A good lawyer, however, will work hard to represent you and make sure you get the best compensation possible for your injuries.

Personality

This is usually one of the most overlooked qualities people forget when looking for a good personal injury lawyer to hire. While your lawyer doesn’t need to be a friend to you, it is important that you feel comfortable with them. After you have been injured, the last thing you need is to hire a lawyer that is not going to be there for you when you have questions or concerns regarding your case. You want someone that will always give you updates on your case’s status and will return your phone calls within a reasonable amount of time.

Being wise when choosing a personal injury lawyer to hire for your case can make all the difference between getting nothing and getting what you deserve. Reputable lawyers such as the ones at HSH Lawyers can not only make the process of hiring a lawyer much easier, you will be able to rest assured that they will work hard to get you what you deserve from your injuries.

Hire Professionals to Get On Advice Canadian Pardon System

At times in life things happen that we are not arranged for. It is amid circumstances such as these that we are in urgent requirement for data, yet periodically data is rare. A standout amongst the most wrecking things in life is to wind up needing kindness, however to be insensible of exactly how to acquire it. If you ended up in a bad position, and you’re thinking about how to get exculpation; then simply realize that there are a few ways that you can do it.

One of these is approach to get a pardon is by being a representative. Fundamentally, representatives from different nations consequently summon a privilege. Representatives can’t be held, and accordingly as a matter of course they will be discharged paying little respect to their wrongdoing. When you consider it is to some degree out of line. In any case, it is soothing to realize that your nation’s negotiators are ensured wherever they are. You can likewise get one if the president chooses to forget you. Everything you need is the approval from the president. He can pardon any wrongdoing paying little respect to the seriousness. He even has the ability to kill the discipline without or against the judgment of the whole nation.

The most famous approach to get one is by presenting an offer. Everybody is qualified to present an advance. A judge will consider the solicitation, and if it is allowed to assemble will have the choice of going free. This is the simplest one, yet and, after it’s all said and done it is still confused. The entire procedure is troublesome. It is like this in light of the fact that the representing power needs to ensure that individuals don’t perpetrate wrongdoings and after that hope to be absolved. This privilege is held for one of a kind cases, frequently times. There are specific circumstances that pull at the heart. A man will have a more prominent possibility of accepting pardon if he or she conferred the offense as an immature. At present it is planned as reorganization, yet intermittently we overlook; and we make it a holding place for the individuals who have done off-base.

The most effortless approach to get Canadian pardon is to be found not liable for wrongdoing that you have as of now been detained for. As a rule, method for examination is accessible years after detainment. The new strategy for the most part vindicates the individuals who were wrongfully blamed and indicted. It is in reality extremely dismal that individuals serve for wrongdoings that they didn’t submit, and it is the aspiration of our equity framework to enhance so that these cases are soon wiped out. In any case, there are cases like this. It is invigorating to realize that once you are demonstrated guiltless you will be conceded the privilege of flexibility. There is a great deal of governing rules connected with getting an absolution. Notwithstanding, toward the end of the formality you can be liberated. If you are looking for Canadian pardon services then, feel free to visit our official websites.

What are Employment Rights and Its Benefits?

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Employment Rights covers all rights and commitments inside of the business representative relationship – whether current workers, work candidates, or previous representatives. As a result of the many-sided quality of livelihood connections and the wide assortment of circumstances that can emerge, business law includes lawful issues as different as separation, wrongful end, wages and tax collection, and work environment wellbeing.

A hefty portion of these issues are represented by pertinent government and state law. In any case, where the vocation relationship depends on a substantial contract went into by the business and the worker, state contract law alone may direct the rights and obligations of the gatherings.

Worker Rights in the Workplace

All representatives have essential rights in the working environment – including the privilege to protection, reasonable remuneration, and flexibility from segregation. According to employee handbook work candidate likewise has certain rights even preceding being contracted as a representative.

Those rights incorporate the privilege to be free from segregation taking into account age, sex, race, national beginning, or religion amid the employing procedure. For instance, an imminent manager can’t ask a vocation candidate certain family-related inquiries amid the employing procedure.

In many states, representatives have a privilege to security in the working environment. This privilege to protection applies to the worker’s close to home belonging, including totes or folder cases, stockpiling lockers available just by the representative, and private mail tended to just to representative.

Representatives might likewise have a privilege to security in their phone discussions or voice message messages. Be that as it may, representatives have extremely constrained rights to protection in their email messages and Internet utilization while utilizing the business’ PC framework.

There are sure bits of data that a business may not search out concerning a potential occupation candidate or worker. A business may not direct a credit or record verification of a representative or planned worker unless the business tells the person in composing and gets authorization to do as such.

Other critical Employment rights include:

  1. Right to be free from separation and badgering of numerous types;
  2. Right to a protected working environment frees of unsafe conditions, harmful substances, and other potential security dangers;
  3. Right to be free from countering for documenting a case or protest against a business (these are once in a while called “informant” rights);

Right to reasonable wages for work performed.

  1. Government Regulations on Employment Relationships
  2. Taking after is a fast rundown of key government laws identified with work.

Reasonable Labor Standards Act

  1. Gives regulation as to the span of work days, and breaks a business must give.
  2. Represents material compensation and additional time prerequisites set out by the government.

Family and Medical Leave Act

  1. Gives that businesses must permit representatives to take up to a 12-week time away for qualified medicinal purposes.
  2. Stipulates that to meet all requirements for the leave, the representative more likely than not worked for the business for 12 months and for 1,250 hours in the 12 months going before the leave.
  3. Jam qualified representatives’ positions for the term of the leave.
  4. Getting Legal Help with an Employees Rights Issue

How to Apply for a Job at a Law Firm

Getting a job at a law firm can require years of preparation depending on your goals. Standing out from a packed applicant pool and excelling in your academics, whether in law school or undergraduate college, can definitely help. Your path will vary depending on whether you want a job as an entry-level attorney, an attorney with experience or a member of the support staff.

Entry-Level Lawyer Jobs

  • If you’re hoping to get an entry-level attorney job at a law firm, you’ll have to start early. To get such a coveted position, you’ll typically need a summer internship at a law firm after your first or second year of law school. If you excel at your job, then you’ll stand a better chance at getting a full-time job offer after you graduate. Participating in your law school’s on-campus interviewing process gives you a chance to interview with multiple law firms that visit the school. To get a job with a smaller firm, try networking at your local courthouse and watch trials relevant to the area of law you’re interested in. Tell the clerk that you’re a new lawyer and you might get introduced to the judge and lawyers who are there. If you have a specific smaller firm in mind but it isn’t hiring anyone full time, approach the firm about working on a contract basis and proving your worth.

Jobs for Lawyers With Experience

  • Getting an attorney job at a law firm after you already have a few years of experience is a different matter entirely. Prepare yourself for a possibly long process that includes weeks, maybe even months, of decision-making by the law firm. The more years of experience you have, the less that the law school you went to and your GPA will matter. For lateral hires, law firms are looking for the quality of the current firm you’re working at and your hands-on experience. When interviewing or putting together a cover letter, focus on any successes or big wins that you’ve had. You might also consider working with a headhunter or recruiter.

Paralegal Jobs

  • The requirements for getting a paralegal job at a law firm vary depending on the firm’s size and focus. Some firms want paralegals to have a bachelor’s degree, good grades and experience directly related to the area they’ll be working in at the firm. For example, a paralegal working in medical malpractice might have previous experience in a hospital or with an insurance company. Larger firms may not require formal paralegal training if they have their own in-house paralegal training program. Smaller firms, however, may require paralegal training or certification in addition to a bachelor’s degree.

Information Clerks and Secretary Jobs

  • Law firms hire numerous people for other non-attorney support staff positions, such as secretaries, information clerks and intake personnel who handle incoming calls about cases. The competition for these jobs is pretty tough, since law firms are expected to continue diminishing the number of legal secretaries and information and record clerks that they employ between now and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. To get one of these coveted jobs, you’ll need to demonstrate through your resume and interview that you’re a team player who can work with groups of lawyers and can handle the intense pressure of a law firm. These staff must be able to jump from one case and assignment to another and handle multiple cases.

Information Technology Jobs

  • Law firms rely heavily on computer systems and messaging applications to keep track of all the cases they’re working. Because of this, law firms normally have at least one person on staff devoted to information technology and information security. These jobs may also involve running and overseeing the law firm’s website. To get one of these jobs, you will typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as computer science. You should have extensive knowledge of software applications commonly used by law firms, such as case management software, time tracking applications and billing software.

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Starting a Law Firm Business Plan

If considering starting a law firm an attorney will either practiced law as an associate or partner, or recently graduated from law school and passed a bar exam. Law school graduates, with prior business management skills and experience, may decide to take the risk of opening a new law firm as opposed to working for someone else. Experienced lawyers with law practice experience, may seek more control over their practice areas, or a greater share of proceeds from securing and managing law cases and transactions. In drafting a law firm business plan, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides resources on both drafting business plans and securing bank loans that can be used for sole practitioners and larger start-up law firms.

Instructions

  1. Draft a law firm business plan. Choose drafting tools based on personal preferences. Ultimately, a start-up company plan should be typed out as a formal plan for the business that includes current goals, financial figures, existing office resources and anticipated needs. A start-up business plan is unique in that it is the first company plan that lays out the core tasks and activities required to achieve the start-up results.
  2. Discuss the substantive practice areas of the law firm. This can be general trial practice or a specific area such as criminal law, family law, probate law, immigration law or tax law. Outline the required continuing legal training, and research and organizational law practice tools needed for the practicing attorney. This may include securing legal research software and subscriptions such as Loislaw, Westlaw, and LexisNexis. A bank of law document templates in both electronic and hard-copy format helps with drafting pleadings and briefs. Compare features and prices and write firm choices in the business plan.
  3. Draft a projection of law firm expenses. The first major outlay of financial resources will include the lease or purchase of the law office facility. Law firm costs may also include office furniture, computer equipment, office supplies and equipment, legal research resources, employee salaries, professional liability insurance, continuing legal education (CLE), professional subscriptions, associational fees, and other professional services such as accounting and tax assistance. Check out the on-line information about guaranteed loan programs offered by the SBA for bank loan options.
  4. Estimate law office space that will be needed. A small law office generally has an area for the receptionist and/or legal secretary, individual offices for attorneys, and a law library that can also work as a conference room and work area for tackling large projects. Write out the amount of office square footage needed for the anticipated start-up staff. Include a cost assessment in the business plan based on the local market price for commercial leases or purchases.
  5. Anticipate staffing requirements. This wholly depends on the size of the firm. This may include administrative staff, such as legal secretaries and paralegals, as well as associates or partners. Estimate the staff size in the business plan and a course of action for securing the human resources needed for the start-up.
  6. Address accounting needs. Law office administrative accounting duties can be performed by a staff attorney, business manager, or contracted out to a professional accountant. Costs for these services should be factored into the business plan. This includes either the estimated cost of professional services, or the cost of accounting software that will be needed by the in-house accounting manager for the firm.
  7. Discuss law firm marketing. Applicable rules of ethics, as determined by the state bar, will determine the type of advertising and marketing a law firm can engage. While legal marketing is often more subdued than other professions, advertisements in community phone directories and television and radio advertisements are popular forms of law firm promotional activities. Layout some specific ideas in the business plan with cost estimates.

Questions to Ask at an Interview With a Law Firm

Interviewing with a law firm requires the same type of preparation for interviewing with any other organization; however, there are certain questions you should ask based on your interest in one particular law firm over another. Depending on your skills, qualifications and interests, there are job-specific questions to ask in an interview with a law firm that don’t apply to other employment interviews.

Interview Purpose

  • All job interviews have two purposes. An interview is a platform for you to convince the recruiter that you are suitably qualified, based on your skills, expertise and interest. The law firm recruiter is selling you on the firm’s ability to offer the work environment and professional development you seek. Both you and the interviewer are using this process to discover if you are a good fit for the job.

Preparation

  • Preparing is a key step in formulating questions to ask during your interview. When you submit your initial application, you should already know basic information about the law firm, such as its size, location, reputation in the legal and business communities and the number of years the firm has been in existence. Access online resources such as the firm’s website, attorney and staff profiles, legal journals and newsletters to learn as much as you can about it. Jot down general questions about the law firm and move on to job-specific questions.

Associate-Level Attorney Interview Questions

  • If you are interviewing for a job as an associate with the firm, your questions should pertain to ways the firm will enhance your skills, expertise and exposure to various practice areas. An associate-level position is for recent law school graduates up to attorneys with five to eight years of experience. Examples of questions associate-level attorneys should ask are:

    What opportunities are there for new associates to learn about the various practice groups within the firm?

    Does the firm support partner-associate mentoring relationships, and if so, what activities do mentors use to help new attorneys reach their professional goals?

    How many billable hours are required of first-year associates?

    What is the firm’s policy on time off for new associates studying for the state bar exam?

    On average, how many years do your associates stay on the partnership track?

    What are the firm’s requirements for pro bono work?

    Will I be given options as to the causes or organizations to which I donate my services pro bono?

    For litigation associates, how does the firm determine when an associate is ready to sit second-chair or first-chair during trial?

    What percentage of associates achieve partner status, and how long does it take to progress from nonequity partner to equity partner?

    How will my ability to bring new clients to the firm affect my length of time on the partnership track?

    What opportunities are there for associates to practice within other offices throughout the U.S. or internationally?

    What is the firm’s position on work-life balance?

Paralegal Questions

  • Interview questions to ask during a paralegal job interview determine if the firm meets your career and developmental needs and fully utilizes your skills, particularly if you are an experienced paralegal. Questions you should ask during a paralegal job interview are:

    Are all paralegals with the firm evaluated according to the same standards, or will my education and credentials account for higher performance standards?

    Does the firm subsidize continuing education credits for certified paralegals?

    Is it possible to rotate among practice groups to determine the area to which I feel best suited?

    What level of autonomy do paralegals have? Are paralegals classified as exempt or nonexempt employees of the firm?

    What percentage of your firm’s paralegals actively participate in discovery and pretrial stages?

    How many attorneys will I be expected to support?

    If my responsibility is to more than one attorney, how likely is it that all of the attorneys I support have related or similar cases?

    In addition to trial preparation, how many of your paralegals actually assist during trial?

    How many hours are paralegals expected to bill on an annual basis?

    How does the number of billable hours factor into the compensation and bonus structure for paralegals?

    How often will my billable rate increase, and on what basis does the firm increase paralegal billing rates?

    What is your onboarding process for paralegals?

    Will I have administrative support, and am I responsible for conducting annual performance evaluations for my secretary or administrative assistant?

What Does a File Clerk in a Law Firm Do?

In order for the information in a file to be of any use, it must be up to date, accurate, and readily accessible. In a law firm this is especially important because so much of the attorneys’ work depends on what’s in the file. Though a file clerk in a law firm doesn’t have a degree in law, he usually has some experience in a legal environment, excellent attention to detail, proficiency in various software applications and strong interpersonal skills.
Function

The real purpose of a file clerk is to allow attorneys to focus on the aspects of legal practice that only they can do by liberating them from the mundane clerical tasks associated with maintaining files. Even in a small law firm, the amount of paper that needs to be processed on a daily basis can be considerable. In a large firm, it’s enough to warrant several individuals devoted entirely to the task. Most law clerks work full time for an hourly wage that increases only slightly with experience, which makes it ideal for a recent college grad looking for experience, but limited as a permanent career choice.

File MaintenanceSeveral different kinds of paperwork go into a legal file. In addition to legal pleadings, documents filed in the court by both sides of a lawsuit, there are discovery requests, which are communications between the opposing sides of the suit geared toward disclosing all the relevant facts of a case. Because discovery is time sensitive, it’s important that the file clearly reflect the current status of discovery efforts. Additionally, any correspondence received from the client, court, or opposing counsel, any memoranda to the file by attorneys, any relevant media references and contact information for all parties should be included.

TasksFile clerks must often track down the documents that belong in the file in addition to seeing that they are correctly filed. This can involve sorting the daily mail, getting documents from attorneys or departments and making sure borrowed documents are returned. The file clerks are also responsible for ensuring that files are located in the appropriate place in the firm’s filing system and fetching the files upon request. Locating a missing file is also the responsibility of the file clerk.

Electronic FilingMandatory electronic filing in some court districts and the drive to cut costs, has began the movement towards maintaining electronic rather than physical paper files. The continuation of this trend will further affect the role of the file clerk, who now often needs proficiency on specific software platforms to do the job effectively. It has also made it necessary to scan physical documents when necessary, and to effectuate the transition from paper to electronic filing. Retrieval of electronic filing can involve the use of an intricate numerical coding system and devices such as computers and microform readers.

Other ClericalIt should be clear that the work of a file clerk in a law firm is not done primarily sitting at a desk. Instead, there is a lot of movement and interaction with other staff required in maintaining a law firm’s files. In addition to these tasks, it’s not uncommon for a file clerk to be asked to perform basic clerical duties such as typing out a letter, preparing an envelope for mailing, sending faxes or making copies. Especially in small law firms, the roles of file clerk and secretary can be largely overlapping.

How to Nail a Job Interview at a Law Firm

Any job interview can be intimidating regardless of where the interview is taking place. Interviewing at a law firm could be downright scary, especially if you are meeting with a lawyer. If you’re properly prepared, though, you can do more than just get by in the interview. You can land a job at the firm. Here is how to nail a job interview at a law firm.

Instructions

  1. Go into the interview full of confidence. A lawyer or law firm will be looking for somebody who can speak with clients and other attorneys without wavering a bit. If you’re nervous during the interview, the person interviewing you will not believe that you are capable of handling the pressure that a job with a law firm brings.
  2. Bring a note pad and a pen into the interview. This is probably a good idea when entering any interview, especially one with a law firm. Working at a law firm will mean taking plenty of notes regarding different cases and meetings. It will impress the person interviewing you that you are detailed enough to take notes regarding the interview. Taking notes will also help you when the time comes to ask the interviewer any questions regarding the job at the law firm.
  3. Give a good explanation regarding law school to the interviewer. Practically every interview at a law firm will include a question regarding law school. You will most likely be asked why you haven’t attended law school and if you ever plan to do so. Normally, an answer such as “I wasn’t looking forward to (insert number) years of school and internships,” will suffice while interviewing at a law firm.
  4. Talk about the different types of law that you are interested in. This is important whether your interviewing at a law firm that deals with real estate, civil liberties or personal injury. A law firm will be more interested in you if you’re a well-rounded individual. You should also explain why these different types of law interest you. Bring up personal experiences and how you feel a job in law could benefit you and, more importantly, others.
  5. Ask plenty of questions before the end of your interview. A law firm is going to want to hire somebody that is detailed and concerned with every little bit of information. Leave no question unanswered, even if it’s the slightest detail such as what you would be wearing if you did get the position.
  6. Be personable during your interview at the law firm. Many people believe that they should be stiff and all business when interviewing at a law firm. The fact is that you’ll be working with attorneys. They have to deal with other lawyers as well as clients. Both of these groups of people can be less than fun to deal with during the week. Your attorney will not want to deal with somebody in the office that as zero personality.

How to Market for Personal Injury Law Firms

Personal injury law firms work with people who have been injured in an automobile accident, on the job or even by a doctor during surgery or treatment. Therefore, marketing for this type of legal practice means getting the firm’s name in front of people who have been hurt. Developing a successful marketing campaign for a personal injury law firm takes time and money, but the payback is a steady stream of clients.

Instructions

  1. Design and prepare a website that highlights the firm’s attorneys and important support staff members, its experience in personal injury law, its history and any big verdicts the firm has won in court or through settlement. Make sure the website has a component that allows for regular blogging.
  2. Post a blog or a personal injury-related article on the firm’s website at least two times a week. This will help the website move up in rankings on search engines when people in your practice area have need of this type of lawyer. Consider running a pay per click ad campaign where your site comes up when certain searches are performed.
  3. Purchase business letterhead and business cards that have a similar tie-in design to the firm’s website. Letterhead is important for direct-mail marketing. Cards can be easily passed out in a variety of social and business settings. They can also be placed on bulletin boards at courthouses, coffee shops or even hospitals.
  4. Join the personal injury section of the state bar where the firm practices. Get involved. Becoming active in this section is an excellent way to network, pick up business and get referrals.
  5. Send a letter of introduction to every chiropractor in your practice area. A week later, follow the letter up with a phone call to schedule a brief meeting. At the meeting drop off a brochure and business card and introduce yourself. Ask the chiropractor to refer you any patients who have been injured in an accident.
  6. Take out a yellow page advertisement that is at least 1/2 page in size. It is important that your ad captures the feelings that an injured person might be having. Include a phone number, email and a link to the firm’s website in the ad.

How to Dress for an Interview at a Law Firm

The legal profession is known for being fairly conservative, and you should dress for an interview accordingly. Richard Ikka of the University of Wisconsin conducted a review of the literature and found that occupational stereotypes exist with respect to appearance and dress: An interviewee who “looks the part” is more likely to get hired, and appropriate attire has even more influence than attractiveness on interviewer hiring decisions. It is virtually impossible to dress too conservatively for an interview at a law firm, but you can definitely create a bad impression by being overly casual.

Instructions

  1. Choose a classic business suit in traditional dark colors such as black, grey or navy. Select a plain or pinstriped suit, and avoid outlandish or distracting pattern choices. Women should wear a well-fitting skirt suit, and the length of the skirt should be no greater than an inch above or below your knees. Men should consider a tailored suit for appropriate fit.
  2. Pair a plain white, ivory or light blue long-sleeved shirt with your suit. Women can wear a plain top, but avoid low cut or tight-fitting selections. Avoid overly bright or dark colors and steer clear of patterned items.
  3. Shine your shoes. Wear black or brown pumps — with a low, 1- to 2-inch heel — if you are female. Men should choose leather, lace-up shoes; burgundy is also an acceptable color for men, although black shoes are all-purpose and will go with virtually any business suit.
  4. Keep your accessories plain. Ties should be in a solid block color or conservative pattern, avoiding larger patterns, bold prints and swirls. Choose a business-appropriate color that is well coordinated with your outfit, such as blue, green or grey, and avoid bold or bright color choices. Themed novelty ties are not appropriate and bow ties are not advisable either.
  5. Keep jewelry to a minimum for both sexes. Men should wear nothing more than a watch and wedding ring, if applicable. Women may also wear an understated necklace and earrings, but avoid dangly styles or large hoops. Classic studs or small hoops are acceptable choices for a law firm interview.
  6. Get a manicure or give yourself a manicure at home. Your fingernails should be neat, clean and trimmed. Women can select a neutral polish or french manicure, but avoid bright colors, glitter and motifs. Bring a purse or briefcase in plain, neutral colors such as black or brown.

How to Start a Law Firm

Whether you’ve spent years working in someone else’s firm or are fresh out of law school, the temptation to start your own law firm is always there. But starting your own firm can also be a big risk, particularly when you’re giving up a six-figure salary to do it. The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of money, as long as you keep costs low–but it will take a lot of determination.

Instructions

  1. Decide whether to run your law firm out of your home or an office. While an office has a more professional touch, it can also cost a lot of money. You can offset the disadvantage of working out of your home by making home visits to clients, saving them time and saving you from renting.
  2. Choose a location. If you’re working out of your home, you don’t have much choice. But if you’re working out of an office, choose your territory wisely. Try to find a neighborhood that’s young and thriving. Established law practices are slow to expand with city limits, and you can make a name for yourself out of their shadow.
  3. Select an area of specialty. Whether it’s venture capitalism financing or insurance law, you need to pick one thing to do well. The location you choose may have an influence: For example, a quick-growing city may have a need for real estate law experts. Choose a subject that is under represented in your area.
  4. Get your name out there. Advertise in newspapers and neighborhood publications. Establish an Internet presence, and consider running a blog offering elementary law advice on your subject. Explore your marketing options through the latest technologies, including social networking websites, which law firms are typically slow to pick up on and use to their benefit.

How to Start a Law Firm in New York

Many attorneys graduate law school with the dream of going into practice for themselves. Others, who are faced with the exceedingly difficult and competitive job market in New York, do so out of necessity when unable to obtain employment with a major law firm. Whatever your reasons, opening your own law practice can be challenging but highly rewarding. Knowing where to start can simplify the process greatly and make it a much less stressful task.

Instructions

  1. Obtain the necessary education. In order to practice law in the state of New York, you are required to pass what is called a bar exam. This is a licensing exam that shows that you are proficient in the field of law and are qualified to practice law in your given jurisdiction. In order to pass the exam, it will be necessary for you to obtain the education required to perform the job. You will want to start by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as criminal justice through an accredited college or university and then follow that with a Juris Doctor degree in law from an accredited law school.
  2. After completing your Juris Doctorate, take the New York State Bar Examination. Taking and passing the state bar examination is a requirement before practicing law in any state and New York is no exception. Once you have successfully passed the bar exam, you will obtain the licensing necessary to practice law in the State of New York.
    Taking  and successfully passing the New York State Bar Examination is a requirement before setting up your legal practice.
  3. Choose your corporate structure. Talk to a licensed accountant about the options and tax consequences in regards to your options as a corporation or LLC and choose which option is best for you.
  4. Obtain office space. The most budget friendly option is a virtual office. This will work especially well until you are able to expand and hire employees. In New York, several companies will provide you with a Manhattan address, telephone receptionist service and voice mail. If you need to meet clients, the New York City bar association has conference rooms that you can book for a nominal fee. Once your practice takes off, you can invest in a brick and mortar office space to accommodate your growing needs.
  5. Open bank accounts in your business name. This is a requirement for tax purposes, so that you are not depositing business profits or client funds into your own personal account.
  6. Obtain malpractice insurance. It’s not mandatory in New York, but is is very highly recommended. This insurance will protect you and your business should you ever be sued for malpractice. It can generally be obtained at a fairly reasonable cost and the price is well worth the piece of mind.
  7. Advertise your business. You will want to get professional business cards printed that clearly display your name and contact information. Investing in a small advertisement in the local telephone directory and building your own business website are also a must.
  8. Open your doors. You are now ready to begin working in your own law firm!

How to Become an Investigator for a Law Firm

Oftentimes, investigators for law firms are retired police detectives with backgrounds in criminal investigation. However, some law firms are open to hiring private investigators who have passed the necessary courses and obtained a license. Although some states don’t require investigators to be licensed, the majority do. If you wish to work as an investigator for criminal law attorneys, you’ll need to have a solid grasp of criminal procedure, federal law and state law.

Instructions

  1. Enroll in a private investigator course in your area. Private investigator training involves study and testing on topics such as wiretapping statutes, criminal procedure, privacy law and other pertinent state and federal law. Some private investigator training schools specialize in litigation support with law firms as clients.
  2. Complete the training, pass the test and obtain your license. Once you receive your license you can decide whether you want, or need, to obtain a concealed carry permit. Not all private investigators need to carry a handgun; however, many still do.
  3. Network with the legal community. Once you’re licensed, you’ll need to meet attorneys in your area. Get in touch with specific practice departments in law firms you might be interested in working for. For example, if you want to perform litigation assistance for criminal cases, contact criminal law attorneys at several law firms in your location.

Requirements for Harvard Law School

Harvard Law School is a prestigious school recognized throughout the world. Each year, thousands of students apply. About 700 students are selected. The majority of students pursue a juris doctor (J.D.), but master of laws (L.L.M.) and doctor of juridical science (S.J.D.) candidates also enroll.

Basics

  • A basic application will include a personal statement, which often describes the reasons why a student wants to attend Harvard Law School. Additional requirements include recommendation letters, resume (highlight academic, professional and extracurricular activities), transcripts (prior undergraduate and graduate studies), and Law School Admission Test (LSAT–standardized test) scores.

Significance

  • Admission into Harvard Law is competitive. Foreign citizens, such as from China, Germany and Australia, represent about 5 percent of each class. Each year, the admissions office conducts phone interviews for about 1,000 applicants. Guided tours are available for applicants from September through November. While students can tour the campus throughout the year, planning a visit during the academic year provides applicants with an opportunity to observe real law school classes.

Features

  • Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree to enter law school. To increase the chance of acceptance, students should have high grades in their undergraduate classes. Plus, students can enroll in a LSAT prep course that typically provides useful test tips. Harvard Law students have pursued various undergraduate majors, though the rigor of their undergraduate education takes precedence over the specific major. For example, a biology major student might be admitted at Harvard than with a lower GPA than an English major. Average grade point averages range from 3.76 to 3.96 and LSAT scores range from 171 to 176 for the entering class of 2009.

Time Frame

  • To initiate the application, you must register through the Law School Admissions Council (lsac.org). The LSAC administers the LSAT exam, submits electronic and hard copies to Harvard, and collects the application fee of $85 (fee waivers are available). Harvard Law applications are accepted from mid-September until early February. The LSAT test is given about four times a year–around February, June, September and December. Thus, you must take the LSAT by December to meet the February admissions deadline. The LSAT fee in the U.S. is $132 and $121 for the Credential Assembly Service (application processing).

Considerations

  • The cost of attending Harvard Law exceeds $50,000 each year (generally for three years). More than 75 percent of students receive some type of financial assistance. The school facilitates financial aid awards such as loans and scholarships, but need-based grants also are provided to students. Another tool to minimize the cost of a Harvard Law School education involves the school’s Low Income Protection Plan, which helps law graduates repay student loans if they pursue public service work upon graduation.

How to Get Into Law School As an Adult

Although most students enroll in law school after graduating from college, others do not enter law school until well into their adulthood. Consequently, most law schools now offer part-time and night courses to accommodate non-traditional students. Like recent college graduates, adults who wish to enter law school must register with the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), obtain recommendations, choose the right schools and complete an application.

Instructions

  1. Register with the LSAC. Anyone applying to an American law school must do so through the Law School Admission Council since it standardizes transcripts, keeps track of recommendations, processes applications and handles misconduct cases. To register, visit the Law School Admission Council’s website, create an account and pay the $123 registration fee.
  2. Take the LSAT. The LSAT is a 4-hour exam that American law school applicants must take. For most schools, the LSAT score is the single greatest indicator of whether the applicant is admitted or rejected. Purchase LSAT preparation books and practice tests from a local bookstore, Amazon or the LSAC’s website. Start studying for the LSAT 4 to 6 months in advance.
  3. Request transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you attended. Contact every college you attended after graduating from high school and ask them to send an official transcript to the LSAC. You must submit all transcripts, even if you only took one class. Failure to do so could spark a misconduct and irregularities charge against you by the LSAC. The LSAC will standardize your transcript and average your GPA from all the colleges you attended. The new GPA is called the LSDAS GPA.
  4. Get two to three recommendations. If you graduated from college in recent years, it should not be difficult to obtain a recommendation from a professor. However, if you have been out of school for many years, you may not be able to track down former professors. In that case, get recommendations from past and current employers.
  5. Choose the schools to which you want to apply. There are many factors to consider when selecting schools, such as cost, location, flexibility of programs and prestige. Decide which factors are most important to you and select schools based on them. Apply to a combination of safety, match and reach schools. Safety schools are schools that should admit you since your LSAT score and undergraduate GPA is above the school’s average. Match schools might admit you since your GPA and LSAT score matches the school’s average. Reach schools, such as Ivy League law schools, might reject you since your undergraduate GPA and LSAT score falls below the school’s average. It’s a good idea to apply to reach schools since they are usually prestigious and generous with financial aid.
  6. Complete and verify the LSAC’s common law school application. After registering with the LSAC, you will find a general application for all law schools United States. Complete it and verify that your information is correct. The LSAC will copy this application and send it to any law school that you want. Some schools, such as Yale, have supplementary forms that you must complete.

How to Become a Lawyer Without Law School

Although most states require that students hold a Juris Doctorate from an American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law school before sitting for the bar exam, a few states have exceptions. Several states, including New York and Virginia, allow prospective attorneys to sit for the bar exam if they have completed at least one year of study at an ABA-approved school; however, only California allows people to take the bar exam without having attended any law school at all. Currently, the only way to be eligible to sit for the bar exam in California without attending a law school is to participate in the California Law Office Study Program (LOSP).

Becoming an Attorney without Going to Law School

  1. Submit an official Notice of Intent to Study Law in a Law Office or Judge's Chambers to the California State Bar Association. This is an applicant's official request to participate in the Law Office Study Program (LOSP), and can be found on the California Bar's website. If they have not already, students should also find a California attorney or judge who has been “a continuously active member for at least five years in good standing” with the California State Bar willing to sponsor their application and teach them.
  2. Comply with the regulations of the LOSP. California State Bar Association rules say that in order to qualify to sit for the California bar, students must study in the law office for a minimum of 18 hours per week, 48 consecutive weeks per year, for four years. The supervising judge or attorney must examine the student with a written examination at least once each month. The judge or attorney must then submit a semi-annual report to the Bar Association, which must include the questions and answers of the written examinations.
  3. Take and pass the California First-Year Law Students' Examination, commonly known as the “Baby Bar.” Students in the LOSP are eligible to sit for the Baby Bar after they have completed one full year of study, defined as 18 hours per week for 48 consecutive weeks. The Baby Bar is administered in June and October of each year; students who pass it within three attempts will receive credit for all study up to that point, but students who pass after three attempts will only receive credit for one year of study. Students must have four years of study in order to be eligible to sit for the General Bar Examination.
  4. Take and pass the General Bar Examination. Students who have passed the Baby Bar and have four years of study in strict compliance with California Bar Association Rules are eligible to sit for the general California Bar Examination. Like all people wishing to establish eligibility to practice law in California, LOSP students must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) as well as the California-specific California Bar Examination. The Bar Exam is offered in July and February each year.

How to Get Into an Elite Law School

Do you dream of graduating from a top law school? Of being courted
by the most prestigious firms even before you get your J.D.? Sounds
great, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be happy at one of these schools.
Before you jump in, study the culture to see whether you truly want to
attend an Ivy League or comparable school. If you do, apply early, stay
on top of the paperwork and show what a valuable asset you’ll be.

Instructions

  1. Attend a college that successfully feeds students into the top law schools (see 150 Get Into a Top College or University). The best bet is to get your undergraduate degree at Harvard, Yale or Princeton, but other colleges are devising ways to make their students attractive to top graduate schools. Pomona College in California, for instance, has upped its success by helping students with interviews, letters of recommendation and more.
  2. Strive for a 3.5 or above grade point average (GPA). Be aware that a 4.0 at one school may not be comparable to a 4.0 at a less-competitive school. Admissions directors look at the level of your coursework, too. Major in English/literature, philosophy, history or political science/government. Be able to write well.
  3. Take a good look at the law schools you think you want to attend. Harvard, for instance, has a premier reputation and just about guarantees you a big firm job, but will you like the large classes, busy faculty and fellow students? Find out all about highly ranked law schools in America’s Best Graduate Schools from U.S. News & World Report (www.usnews.com).
  4. Understand that good grades aren’t enough–you need to ace the Law School Admission Test (LSAT.com). Look into LSAT preparation courses (which can cost upward of $1,000) on Web sites such as PrincetonReview.com and Kaplan.com, and take practice tests. Be aware that effective studying for the LSAT usually takes at least 50 hours. See 151 Ace the College Admissions Tests and 157 Prepare for the Bar Exam for study tips.
  5. Take the exam in June or October of the year before you plan to enter law school. In theory, the LSAT is a consistent measure for an admissions officer to compare all applicants with each other. Scores range from a low of 120 to a high of 180. You’ll want to score 164 or above to stay in the running. (The national average is about 152.)
  6. Register with the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS), which will compile a report about you and send it to any law school you want. The LSDAS report includes your official test scores, transcripts and recommendations, and it’s a requirement at nearly every law school approved by the American Bar Association (abanet.org).
  7. Request applications from the law schools you want to attend– you can often download them from the schools’ Web sites. To make it easier, start a Web account with LSDAS or buy its CDROM so you can electronically access the application of nearly any law school you can imagine.
  8. Get all your ducks in a row and submit your application early. By the end of summer, request transcripts and line up letters of recommendation, which you’ll need to send to LSDAS. Ask the people who recommend you to be specific about what makes you a great candidate and how you stand out from other students (see 152 Organize Your College Applications).
  9. Apply by November of the year before you want enter law school. This is especially important at schools such as Harvard that have rolling admissions. They make a decision on each application as it comes in, and the class starts to fill up as the months go by.

How to Write a Law School Essay

Law-school essay examinations can be frustrating and overwhelming. A technique known as IRAC (issue, rule, application and conclusion) is useful for writing the standard law-school essay. Follow this general guideline and the steps below to write your law-school essay exams.

Instructions

  1. Read through the entire essay exam question several times carefully. Pay close attention to the question asked.
  2. Spot the issues relevant to the question and organize them into a logical order on scrap paper.
  3. Describe the most important issue in detail as the first sentence of your essay.
  4. Explain the legal rule that applies to this issue, giving a clear and concise description of the law. Note the leading cases, how the courts apply the law, limitations of the rule and policy considerations that support the law.
  5. Apply the rule of law to the particular facts presented in the essay question. Explain your thought process and demonstrate to the professor that you understand how the rule is used in this context. Sometimes it is necessary to show why a rule does not apply.
  6. Conclude the essay with a short statement that summarizes your position and answers the question.
  7. Repeat steps 3 through 6 for every issue you noted on your scrap-paper outline.
  8. Budget your time carefully. Often the biggest obstacle in taking a law-school essay exam is the clock.

How to Get Into Law School with Bad Grades

Admission to law school is more than a numbers game. Undergraduate grades and LSAT scores play an important part in the law school admissions process. However, law schools also consider other circumstances before they make their final decisions to admit prospective students. Factors that play a significant qualitative role are undergraduate degrees, personal statements and letters of recommendation. Applying early can also maximize your chances of getting in.

Grades Are Not Everything

  1. Getting into law school with bad grades is a challenge. Law schools often consider the difficulty of an applicant’s undergraduate major, notes Jannell Roberts, associate dean of admissions at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, For example, an applicant may have a 4.0 in construction management while another applicant may have a 2.7 in architectural engineering. Obviously, the engineering major has more obstacles to overcome and has better demonstrated an ability to grasp difficult material. In addition, admission committees also consider the rank or prestige of the undergraduate school. An upward grade trend can also affect the likelihood of admission.
  2. The personal statement is probably the most important qualitative element of an applicant’s file. Robert Schwartz, dean of admissions and financial aid at the University of California in Los Angeles, advises applicants to give special emphasis to significant socioeconomic disadvantages and hardships or unusual life experiences that have been overcome. You could also show how your admission would markedly diversify the student body or the legal profession. The admissions committee also considers work experience and career achievement, community service and leadership qualities.
  3. The best letters of recommendation are detailed, specific and give information on how well an applicant compares to his peers. Recommenders should offer examples of academic ability and characteristics necessary for success in law school. Letters should also show how that applicant’s skills will translate in the law school setting. In addition, letters should show a solid academic or professional relationship with the applicant. Never submit letters from family members or from family friends.
  4. Some law schools use a rolling admissions policy, which is helpful for applicants with poor undergraduate grades or low LSAT scores. Applicants have the advantage of being considered early in the process.

How to Pay for Law School

You did it! You have been accepted to law school. But the stress is just beginning. Finding the funds to pay for law school is a burdensome and often overwhelming task. Therefore, it is recommended to gather as much financial information as you can to help you make intelligent decisions about how you will pay for your graduate education. Follow these simple steps to ensure you exhaust the funding options available to you.

Instructions

  1. Research the cost of the law school you wish to attend. Include both tuition and anticipated book expenditures.
  2. Research the cost of living for the area in which you will live while attending law school.
  3. Review your current finances and determine how much you can comfortably contribute to fund your law school education.
  4. Prepare a reasonable budget that takes into account the figures you obtained in steps 1 through 3.
  5. Apply for scholarships or grants to aid your law school funding.
  6. Ask your law school about federal work-study programs that enable you to work part-time to help finance your education.
  7. Consider federal and private student loans to aid in the financial burden of attending law school.

How to Brief a Case for Law School

Briefing cases in law school is an essential process in obtaining a legal education. In law school, you are not given text books to study. You are given case books that are filled with appellate court legal opinions or case law. It is your job to digest and dissect the cases into case briefs and to essentially write your own text book.

Instructions

  1. When briefing cases, understand the Socratic method of teaching. Your law professors will call upon students in class to question your knowledge of cases and to challenge your position on various issues. How you respond will depend on how well prepared you are to discuss the facts and the law of each case. It is therefore critical that you are organized and thorough in your understanding of the cases.
  2. Start with the case name and citation at the top. Include parallel cites to official reporters and West reporters.
  3. The first section is the case holding. The holding of the case are all necessary conclusions the court reached in disposing the case. Be careful not to confuse the holding with dicta. Dicta are ancillary conclusions or statements of law that are illustrative but not necessary for the disposition of the case and are not given precedential weight. If the case contains significant dicta on an important unanswered question of law, then that should be separately discussed. Some case brief formats include an issues section, but the issues are basically the holding in query format and is repetitive in my opinion.
  4. The second section is the procedural posture of the case. The procedural posture or history of the case is a summary of the results of the trial court and the rulings of any intermediate appellate courts, as well as any remand. Also include the result of the case you are briefing to provide a discussion of the prevailing parties, judgments and appellants.
  5. The third section is the facts of the case. Summarize the facts that are necessary to support the case holding. Include the names of the parties instead of referring to the parties as plaintiff and defendant.
  6. The fourth section is the rule of law. Cite and quote the statutes, regulations, rules, ordinances and cases that the court relied upon in reaching its holding.
  7. The last section is the court’s analysis. Describe the court’s reasoning in how it reached its holding, including the application of the case facts to the law. Also include a brief summary of any concurring or dissenting opinions, including the name of the judge and a brief summary of the opinion.
  8. Strive to keep your brief as succinct as possible so that you are able to focus on the pertinent portions of the case. This will promote comprehension and retention to better enable you to prepare for classes and exams. Also, don’t hesitate to alter the formula or the order of categories to better suit your learning preferences. Remember that the brief is your learning tool which is basically an outline and summary of court opinions.

How to Write a Law School Outline

Doing well in law school is no walk in the park, and creating an outline for study is key to success. You should ensure that you are covering all of the material covered in class while keeping your outline simple to read with content that is easy to access. While you want to cover every aspect of the class, the goal is to keep your outline in a format that is easy to navigate for your final exam.

Instructions

  1. Start organizing your law school materials and begin the outline writing process at least one week before classes end.
  2. Use your class syllabus as a template for your outline. Your syllabus will help you remember what areas your professor focused on the most during the semester.
  3. Write down the holding of each of the cases you read as you go through the syllabus and summarize the class. You do not need to know who wrote the opinion and every single fact in the case. All you need to write down is the holding and understand how it is significant in light of other cases you have read.
  4. Create charts where you have the opportunity to. You may find it easier to visualize certain concepts as opposed to just reading your concepts.
  5. Rely mostly on your class notes when writing your outline. Your professor probably emphasized certain facts or legal issues that may not be in your book or handouts. Your class notes also give you insight on what your professor thinks is important and what he might use as an exam question.
  6. Try to keep your outline under 35 pages. This will keep your outline manageable during the actual exam. If you make your outline too big it may become too cumbersome to go through during the exam.
  7. Create a table of contents or use tabs so you can easily navigate through your outline during the test.
  8. Keep your outline focused on broader concepts and ideas that transcend the class if you are about to take a closed-book final. Your professor is less likely to test you on specifics if you are not allowed to have notes with you during the test.

How to Get Into Law School

With early planning, you can make yourself desirable to law school admissions officers come application time. Here are a few tips to get you on the right path.

Instructions

  1. Choose a major that prepares you for law school and piques the interest of admissions officers. Philosophy, politics, history and sociology are subjects that provide a good foundation for law school, but any major that emphasizes writing skills is good.
  2. Make good grades. Maintaining a high grade point average in college, especially in your major, is crucial in getting accepted into law school.
  3. Participate in extracurricular activities. Law schools claim to be looking for well-rounded students. Increase your chances of getting accepted into law school by participating and excelling in hobbies and interests outside of the academic context. Work experience is also helpful.
  4. Ace the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). The LSAT measures your aptitude for the study of law and is considered the most important barometer of assessing future law school success. There are a variety of LSAT preparation courses that can help you prepare for this exam.
  5. Plan your attack. Research law schools that interest you and visit them. Ask about the issues that are important to you; work-study programs, availability of jobs after graduation, tuition and living expenses, etc. Find out about admission requirements to determine your chances of acceptance.
  6. Prepare an application that highlights your individual skills and merits. Pay close attention to the essay question. Don’t be shy; this is your time to shine.

What Can You Do with a Law Degree in Teaching?

A Juris Doctor (J.D.) opens the field to a myriad career opportunities. Many law graduates seek big money working in the legal department of large corporations or law firms. Other attorneys head for public service, toiling as public defenders and possibly aspiring to becoming a judge. Although practicing law is the norm for many attorneys, some lawyers choose to become educators and advisers so they can pass along their knowledge and love of the law.

Law Professors

  • A law degree is the first step to becoming a law professor. However, a degree alone won’t land you a teaching job. Many law schools, especially top schools, hire attorneys with experience practicing law in addition to being published in reputable law journals, such as the “New York Law Journal” or “National Law Journal.” Some schools look favorably upon candidates with federal government work, such as positions as a federal law clerk, work at the U.S. Attorney’s office or the federal public defender.

    Like attorneys, law professors work within different disciplines of the law. Determine if you want to educate students in a hands-on or traditional academic setting. For example, clinical law professors educate students about hands-on courtroom criminal and civil law tactics. These professors arrange mock trials, witness cross examination and jury selection clinics. Academic professors teach legal theory, and discuss contracts and constitutional application within the surroundings of a lecture hall or classroom.

    Some attorneys maintain a job at a law firm or in public service while teaching as an adjunct professor. Typically an adjunct teaching job is a supplemental position and does not provide opportunity for tenure or a full-time teaching position. Attorneys teach classes based on their legal concentration, such as immigration attorneys teach immigration law or public defenders teach criminal law.

College Professor

  • A law degree comes in handy in the academic world in general. Courses pertaining to legal matters outside of law school need professors with strong legal backgrounds to teach courses in journalism, medicine, economics and philosophy.

    To teach subjects other than those offered in law school, applicants must have a certain number of credits or an undergraduate degree in a specific subject. For example, if your undergraduate degree is in economics and you have a J.D., you could qualify to teach economics at the university level. Every university requires different qualifications so check with the school before you apply.

Consultant

  • With society becoming more litigious than ever, some attorneys are opening their own businesses as educators and consultants to educate the public on legal issues.

    For example, corporations hire a staff attorney to teach and advise employees and senior management on employment law issues. The staff attorney holds seminars and classes for existing and new employees to review issues of discrimination, sexual harassment and theft.

    With a law degree in hand, attorneys with dynamic personalities become motivational speakers or conduct educational seminars open to the public on legal matters that include tax law, personal injury law or immigration issues.

Which States Accept Distance Learning Law Degrees?

With the birth of the Internet, you now have the opportunity to pursue your degree online from the comfort of your own home. Distance learning law degrees, in which students obtain a JD, the professional graduate degree generally required to practice law in the United States, are becoming more common. With the restrictions of the American Bar Association, however, distance learning programs are a feasible avenue to becoming a lawyer only if you want to practice in California.

American Bar Association Restrictions

  • Currently, the American Bar Association (ABA) does not accept the accreditation of any institution that provides a JD degree through distance learning. (See Reference 1.) Since 49 states require that graduates earn a degree approved by the ABA in order to take the Bar exam required to practice law, graduates of distance learning law programs cannot practice in those states. (See Reference 2.)

Practicing Law in California

  • California is the only state that allows graduates from distance learning law programs to take the Bar exam. In order to do this, however, students must have completed their pre-legal education and have graduated from a distance learning program that requires at least 864 hours of preparation and study per year. The distance learning program must also be registered with the California Bar Committee. (See Reference 3.)

Alternative Options

  • Students or graduates with distance learning law degrees can still attempt to practice law in other states by first practicing in California. After practicing for a few years, it may then be possible to transfer to another state. Alternatively, some who receive JD degrees do not wish to become lawyers. If this is the case, the law degrees of these graduates would depend not on the state, but on the degree acceptance requirements of the university or employer. Graduates from online JD programs can then work in the legal field, or even in arenas as diverse as healthcare administration or business management. (See Reference 2.)

Accepted Distance Learning Programs

  • Currently, the California Bar Association accepts distance learning law degrees from only five schools: Abraham Lincoln University School of Law, California School of Law, American Heritage University, Concord Law School of Kaplan University, and California Midland School of Law. (See Reference 4.)

Can You Attend Law School Without a Bachelor’s Degree?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the job market for lawyers to increase by 13 percent from 2008 to 2018. You might be able to enter law school and become a lawyer without completing an undergrad degree. In some states, you may not even need law school at all to work as a lawyer.

Identification

  • The vast majority of law schools require a four-year degree as an admissions requirement. A couple of law schools in the U.S. are willing to make an exception for students that show an aptitude for the legal profession and have extremely high marks on their existing academic record. Tulane University is one such school, but even it requires at least three-fourths of a completed bachelor’s degree.

Become a Lawyer Without College

  • If you have no college education of any kind, you can still practice law. Some states, such as California, let people sit for the bar exam as long as they have legal training from a licensed lawyer. You could take an apprenticeship in these states in lieu of law school. Some states also allow a student who completes two-thirds of a law school program to take the bar. “Reading for the law” was actually the only way to become a lawyer in the early history of America. Abraham Lincoln, for example, never attended law school.

Combined Degrees

  • Colleges with an undergraduate program and law school often offer combined degrees, called BA/JD program or 3/3. In this program, the student applies to law school during his junior year of college. If accepted, the student starts law school in what would be his senior year and receives his baccalaureate degree after the first year of law studies. The student then receives his law degree when he finishes the next two years of law school, for a total of six years of college.

Tip

  • If you hope to enter into a law program that combines the undergrad and J.D. degree, you will probably need a grade point average of at least 3.5. You can defray some of the costs of an undergrad education by replacing some classes with acceptable CLEP scores. CLEP tests give college credit for displaying mastery of a subject, usually lower level classes.

Steps to Getting a Law Degree

A law degree will prepare you for a career as a lawyer or can open up opportunities for jobs with various corporations, insurance agencies and legal positions within the government. With a law degree, you can draft legal documents, research cases, defend or prosecute defendants and interpret laws. The road to getting a law degree is a long and challenging one, and several steps are required in order to achieve this goal. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree and passing the BAR (getting state licensed), are all required steps before practicing law.

Bachelor’s Degree

  • The first step in working towards a law degree is to first receive a bachelor’s degree. Pre-Law students often choose to major in politics, economics, history, international affairs and many others as there is no required pre-law major. According to DegreeDirectory.com, it is advisable to take courses in public speaking, philosophy and government before applying to law schools. Students interested in specific areas of law such as environmental or engineering, should also take courses relevant to those fields.

Choose a School

  • Decide which specific field you would like to specialize in and research schools that have reputations in those areas. Choosing an accredited law school with a well-known reputation for high quality instruction can aid in getting the career you are hoping for. The most common law degree (especially for those aiming to be lawyers) is the Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree, which generally takes three years to obtain as a full-time student.

LSAT

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, passing the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) is required by all American Bar Associated/Accredited Law schools, and your score is a major factor in determining your acceptance into the school. Some people choose to take an LSAT prep course prior to taking the exam in order to prepare for it.

Law School

  • In addition to the LSAT, you will also need to submit a portfolio detailing your education, job experience and letters of recommendation. Once accepted into a law program, the first year and a half will be spent studying core courses while the second half of the program focuses on areas of specialization and practical experience.

BAR Exam

  • In order to practice law in the courts, law school graduates must pass the state or jurisdiction’s BAR examinations and receive a state license. Each state has its own separate exams and generally will not license a lawyer from another state without passing its specific BAR Exam as well.

How do I Get a Law Degree at Night School in Texas?

The law is an attractive career for many of us. Before you think about getting a law degree at night school in Texas, consider what you need to do to get into any law school. Texas has nine law school that range from small to large in various urban and suburban localities. Some Texas law schools have night and evening classes. Legal planning, analysis, and advocacy require a student who is well-rounded and analytical. An applicant should start planning several years in advance for an application to a Texas law school.

Undergraduate Preparation

  1. There is no such thing as a pre-law degree. Choose an undergraduate major in which you can get excellent grades, because your undergraduate GPA is very important when applying to law school. A well-rounded liberal arts curriculum with courses in psychology, political science, language, economics, sociology, and history is sometimes recommended. If your ability to write and speak standard English needs work, take remedial courses in writing and speech.
  2. Plan on taking the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) at the end of your junior year. Studying for this exam is not needed because it is an aptitude test. Peruse old LSAT exams to get a sense of what the exam will cover. Take a practice exam if you need help in taking tests, but do not take the LSAT more than once. Law schools generally average the scores of multiple tests, and do not take the highest score.
  3. While the applicant’s LSAT score and GPA are important, letters of references are required. These letters from your college professors and former employers should attest to your ability to handle the law school curriculum. Getting into law school is a lot of work; the competition will be strong. Plan ahead and visit several law schools.

Texas Law Schools Offering Night Classes

  1. South Texas College of Law is a private, nonprofit institution in Houston. It offers a part-time program for students who want to take classes at night. A part-time student may take as long as five years to complete the course of study. Entering students in the fall of 2006 had a GPA of 3.04 to 3.57.
  2. The University of Houston Law Center has a four-year part-time program. This law school requires students to have a bachelor’s degree, as do all other law schools. Houston Law Center not only requires a strong GPA and LSAT score, but gives consideration to many other facets of a student’s background, including education, experience, ethnicity, advanced degrees, and other facets of your life.
  3. St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, founded in 1852, is a Catholic liberal arts institution. St. Mary’s School of Law has a part-time evening program and was named a “2010 Best Value Law School” in the U.S. by preLaw magazine.
  4. Texas Wesleyan School of Law is in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, giving students the chance to intern with prestigious law firms. The school has flexible scheduling, making it possible for students to choose a part-time schedule with day or evening classes.

Description of a Business Law Degree

The field of business law is dedicated to applying legal advice and policy development to the practice of business and corporate management. At an undergraduate level, a business law degree can prepare you to be a paralegal or or assistant, either in a law firm dedicated to corporate law practice or in a corporation’s internal legal department. A joint JD/MBA degree will qualify you to practice law while also becoming an expert at business administration.

Types

  • Business law degrees are available at the associate, bachelor’s and master/doctoral degree levels. An associate degree incorporates basic legal issues as well as general management courses and specific skill courses on legal practice work. Bachelor’s degrees concentrate less on specific legal office skills and have more emphasis on business and legal theory. A JD/MBA is a dual degree that is both a master’s and a doctorate and is an academically rigorous program designed to produce a fully qualified lawyer and businessperson.

Benefits

  • Both MBAs and attorneys are in demand, and candidates who can offer both are in a particularly good position. Whether you want to be an attorney who specializes in business law or a businessperson that can advise her company on legal issues as well, the combination is extremely valuable both to business and to government.

    Getting a degree that specializes in both can also substantially reduce the time that would ordinarily take to develop both spheres of expertise. While a JD ordinarily takes three years and an MBA takes two years, the dual degree takes four years total.

Time Frame

  • These degrees can now be pursued either on campus or remotely, part-time or full-time. An associate degree pursued full time can be accomplished in two years, a bachelor’s degree in four, and a JD/MBA in four. When taken on a part-time basis, the dual degree may take up to six years. Be sure to calculate an additional six months to a year for the application process, including the time necessary for preparing for and taking LSAT and GMAT entrance exams. The time necessary to study for and pass a state bar exam varies by the individual.

Salary Expectations

  • The average salary for a business law graduate with a JD/MBA in 2009 was about $87,000, with a range of $60,000 to $100,000. Paralegals with a business law bachelor’s degree can expect an average salary of approximately $40,000.

Considerations

  • Though demand for people with MBAs and law degrees is high and growing, competition is also fierce. Pursuing this degree will require a high level of dedication in order to stand out from the crowd academically and, therefore, professionally after graduation.

    One of the most valuable things you’ll get from your education is your network of professors and classmates. Don’t miss out on opportunities to build relationships while you’re in school. Those contacts will be able to help you throughout the rest of your career.

How to Pass the Bar Exam Without a Law Degree

Admission to the bar is a highly valued professional accomplishment. While many applicants to the bar have a law degree, in some states it is not a requirement. The bar exam is very challenging. In Nebraska, California and Alabama, fewer than 50 percent of those taking the bar in 2009 passed the exam. Requirements vary widely from state to state, so it is always a good idea to check with your state regarding its requirements before attempting to sit for the bar exam.

Instructions

  1. Research the requirements of the states where you are interested in taking the bar. Each state has its own requirements for eligibility. Maryland requires graduation from a school accredited by the American Bar Association. Some states do not require graduation from law school including Delaware, Georgia and Kansas.
  2. Satisfy all the requirements that are related to academics. Vermont and Michigan, among other states, do not require graduation from college as part of their requirements to qualify for the bar exam. Maine and Ohio require a bachelor’s degree. Some states such as New Hampshire and Michigan require some college education.
  3. Satisfy the eligibility requirements that are not related to an education. You must research and satisfy the eligibility requirements for the state you choose. Convicted felons are not qualified to sit for the bar exam in Mississippi and Missouri. In Florida, all applicants must document their immigration status. In Ohio, applicants must take 10 classroom hours of ethics and one hour of substance abuse education.
  4. Apply to take the exam. Once you’ve chosen a state and are assured you can satisfy all the eligibility requirements, complete the state’s application to sit for the bar exam. Most states offer the exam twice a year and there are deadlines for applying.
  5. Take a bar preparation course. The bar is a very challenging exam. Many law school graduates do not pass the exam on the first attempt. It is wise to set aside the time to prepare for the exam.

How to Get a Law Degree in Canada

Individuals who wish to practice law in Canada must graduate from an accredited law school before being admitted to the law society in the province where they wish to practice. There are a limited number of places available in Canadian law schools, and admission is very competitive. There are specific steps that individuals can follow to increase their chances of success.

Instructions

  1. Enroll in an undergraduate program at a Canadian college or university. Most Canadian law schools require 60 credit hours (two years of study) for admission, but students who complete 90 credits (three years of study) may have an advantage, as law schools calculate applicants’ grade point averages based on the 60 credit hours with highest grades, dropping the 30 lowest credits.
  2. Choose a major and a combination of courses in history, political science, philosophy, languages and communication, that will help you develop the skills and knowledge necessary for success.
  3. Prepare for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Self-study, seminars and review courses may help you prepare for and achieve a high score on the LSAT.
  4. Take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) in your last year of school, during the year before you intend to begin law school.
  5. Apply to graduate law programs at Canadian universities. Submit law school application materials in advance of each school’s deadline. Application requirements vary, but generally include an application form, letters of reference, personal statements and academic transcripts. Be sure to confirm the deadlines and proper submission address for each school to which you apply.
  6. Attend law school. Complete courses in the recommended sequence, ensuring that you graduate on time.

JD Vs. LLB Law Degree

The law degrees J.D. and LL.B. have similarities and differences. They are awarded primarily based on the country standard where the degree is earned, and are both considered a first-level law degree.

Definition of J.D. and LL.B Degrees

  • The J.D. degree stands for Juris Doctor, and the LL.B. Degree stands for Legum Baccalaureus, which literally means Bachelor of Laws. A J.D. degree is required in most states to gain entrance to the bar.

History of the LL.B. Degree

  • The LL.B. is based on English “common law.” Until the mid-1960s, it was the benchmark law degree for all common law countries, including the U.S. In the 1970s, U.S. law schools changed to the J.D. degree. Although the LL.B. degree was the standard law degree in Europe for hundreds of years, in 1820, Harvard University became the first American university to award the LL.B. degree.

Differences Between the Two

  • Unlike the bachelor-level LL.B., the J.D. is a post-graduate, three-year professional law degree. In addition to being the standard degree to practice law in the U.S., the J.D. is becoming more customary in Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and elsewhere.

Curriculum Similarities

  • Although each degree’s curricula focus on the practice of law, the LL.B. is more academic in nature. The recipient of an LL.B. may require further accreditation before entering practice, depending on the country. This may not apply in countries where the LL.B. is earned as a post-graduate degree. In such cases, the LL.B. and J.D. may be treated equally.

Misconceptions

  • While the J.D. degree is technically a doctoral degree, recipients are not addressed as “Dr.” That is reserved for a more advanced law degree — for example, Doctor of Juridical Science, or J.S.D.

How to Earn an Online Law Degree in Texas

Although there’s been an explosion of online degree program offerings since 2000, the study of law has lagged behind other fields in this arena. Traditional universities have resisted offering online law degrees, especially Juris Doctor (JD) degrees, but online universities have emerged to fill the void. There are a number of universities offering online legal degrees that are available to Texas residents who are interested in non-attorney jobs. If your goal is to become a lawyer in Texas, however, there currently is no online JD degree program that will help you qualify to take the Texas Bar Exam.

Instructions

  1. Conduct an Internet search for schools that offer the online associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree program you want to pursue. The University of Phoenix offers online bachelor of science degrees in criminal justice administration and organizational security and management, and a master of science degree in the administration of justice and security. Kaplan University offers an online associate’s degree in criminal justice; bachelor of science degrees in criminal justice and criminal justice administration and management; and master of science degrees in criminal justice and homeland security and emergency management. Walden University offers an online bachelor of science degree in criminal justice, and a master of public administration degree in law and public policy.
  2. Prepare a list of the universities and online degree programs to which you want to apply. Check to verify that each university on your list has the necessary accreditations that will enable you to use its online degree to obtain a job in the state of Texas. Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), one of the six regional accrediting associations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The University of Phoenix is accredited by the HLC and is a member of the NCA, as is Kaplan University.
  3. Download the relevant admissions application forms, complete them and submit your application packages. Keep in mind that universities give special consideration to well-rounded students with good grades who are involved in extracurricular school activities and volunteer community service.
  4. Work on developing and improving you ability to be analytical and critical prior to and while pursuing your online law degree. A good student will be able to identify legal and policy issues, analyze those issues from different perspectives in the context of the applicable rules and theories, and reach a well-reasoned conclusion at the end of the process.

How to File a Motion to Change a Family Law Court’s Order

In a family law court, a motion to modify requests that the court change existing orders due to a change in a family situation. For this motion to be valid, supporting materials and substantial change in circumstances need to be proven.The changes being requested must be in the interest of the child if there are children involved. There are various factors that can qualify you to file a motion to change a family law court order. Among them are child support concerns, alimony, change in income or residency and change in parental.

Instructions

  1. Download the forms from your family law court website or visit the family court clerk office to get the appropriate form packet. Bring a copy of your court order that has the name of the case and the docket number of the order. Purchase a copy of your existing court order from the court clerk’s office if you misplaced yours.
  2. Fill out in the heading part of the forms the location of the court, the docket number, the name of the plaintiff(you) and the defendant (your spouse or party to the initial agreement). In the motion to modify form, check the boxes that indicate which changes are to be modified. Fill in the child information form if there are children involved in the case. Provide the date of the existing court order in the new forms.
  3. Fill out an affidavit that will be submitted with the motion to modify forms. An affidavit explains why you need to change the family law court order. State real and substantial changes that have occurred since the last court order was issued. Explain how the changes you want implemented are in the best interest of the child. Indicate which specific changes you want to be reflected in the new court order. Sign the affidavit before a notary public such as an attorney or a court clerk.
  4. File the motion to modify and the affidavit with the court clerk. Serve the defendant with copies of these documents and obtain proof that you have served him. Proof of service can be in the form of a signed acknowledgment from the defendant, mailing receipt or a signed statement from the sheriff if you served through the sheriff’s office.
  5. Pay the filing fee to the court clerk or request a waiver if you cannot afford this fee. Fill out and file an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, which you can get from the court clerk’s office. The judge will accept your waiver request if you are unemployed, if your income is from a public assistance program or if your income is too low to meet your basic needs and to file for the motion at the same time. Sign it in the presence of a notary public and submit it with the modification form and the affidavit.
  6. Write out a new agreement if you and the other party have agreed to all modifications. You do not need a court hearing if all modifications are agreed upon. Sign the agreement before a notary public and file the signed agreement with the motion to modify to the court clerk. The judge will then issue a newly modified family law court order.

How to File a Family Law Habeas Corpus Petition

Family law disputes often involve high emotions and irrational behavior. The court rules and procedure during a divorce strive to prevent unruly situations from occurring. If a parent or other person has wrongfully seized or detained a minor child, the person who has legal right to the minor child (usually the mother or father of the child) may file a writ of habeas corpus to try and have the custody dispute brought before the court.

Instructions

  1. Check with your local court or a local family law attorney to determine which court has jurisdiction to hear your writ of habeas corpus. In New York, for example, the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear the writ; in Georgia, the Superior Court has jurisdiction to hear the case.
  2. Write the case caption at the top of the writ. Write the name of the court, the county and the state where you are filing the action. Write your name as “Petitioner” and write “v. [Person wrongfully detaining child]” as the “Respondent.”
  3. Title the document “Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.” Center the title and write it beneath the case caption.
  4. State the grounds for the motion. Explain who you are, who has your child and that your child is being wrongfully detained. Ask the court to issue a writ of habeas corpus to force the child to come before the court so that the custody issue can be resolved.
  5. Send a copy of the document to the court clerk in the court with proper jurisdiction. Include information about where the respondent is so that the court can serve the person with a copy of the document.

How to Write an Appeal for Family Law Court

Before you will be able to write an appeal to a family court decision, you will need to determine the proper jurisdiction for your case. Because the rules governing each state’s court system varies, the court that hears family court appeals will vary. You can verify the exact procedure for your jurisdiction by speaking to a private licensed attorney or pro bono legal service, such as Legal Aid.

Instructions

  1. Determine how long you have to file your appeal. In most jurisdictions, you will have 15 to 45 days to prepare and file your paperwork.
  2. File a notice of appeal. In order to begin the appeals process, you will need to prepare a written document stating that you would like to appeal the family court’s decision. This document must be prepared in compliance with the rules of your jurisdiction.
  3. Outline the grounds on which you are appealing the family court’s decision. Your notice of appeal should list what specific part of the family court decision you believe was made in error.
  4. Prepare a brief that outlines the family law court’s errors. After filing your notice of appeal, you will need to prepare a detailed brief that explains the reasons why you think the family court’s decision was flawed. You will need to list supporting facts and cite pertinent case law and rules in your brief.
  5. Sign and date your documents. In doing so, you are certifying that everything you have written is correct to the best of your understanding.

What Are the Functions of a Family Law Paralegal?

Regardless of whether you’re interested in pursuing education to work in the legal field or if you’ve had to hire an attorney to represent you in your divorce case, you may wonder about the functions of a family law paralegal. The family law paralegal is often a client’s first point of contact who serves that client directly and indirectly by performing specific tasks for the attorney assigned to his case. Depending on the size of the law firm and the complexity of divorce, the duties of a family law paralegal can encompass everything from interviewing clients to accompanying the attorney to court. Family law embraces not only divorce and custody issues, but matters such as adoptions, child welfare and establishing a child’s paternity. Let’s take a look at the duties of a family law paralegal in a simple–or not so simple–divorce suit.

Client Intake

  • In large firms, the family law paralegal is often the face the client sees. The paralegal conducts what is known as “client intake” by finding out basic information such as how long the client has lived in the state (to ensure that residency requirements are met), the grounds for divorce on which the client wishes to file, the nature and amount of the couple’s community property, if the client will ask for spousal support, and if there are children born of the marriage, what type of custody the client will seek. Any relevant information that the paralegal’s attorney should know about–if domestic abuse occurred in the marriage or if the client fears his spouse will sell or abscond with marital property–is noted on the client’s intake form. Because a divorce can be a very messy, emotional process, it’s the job of the family law paralegal to remain empathetic yet keep the client on task–especially if he is being charged by the hour.

Making the Case File

  • If the client decides to hire the paralegal’s supervising attorney to represent him, the family law paralegal opens his case file, starting with the client’s intake form. As the client’s divorce proceeds, the paralegal makes sure that important documentation is kept in the case file, including copies of the original divorce petition and other orders filed with the court, property settlement agreements, parenting plans, client correspondence and the attorney’s notes. When the attorney goes to court to represent the client with case file in tow, it should be up-to-date, with each section of the file accurately tabbed or labeled for quick reference.

Drafting the Paperwork

  • Using ProDoc, HotDocs or similar software that allows for e-filing, a family law paralegal takes the information compiled from the client and her supervising attorney and generates documentation needed to initiate the client’s divorce. The two most common legal documents the paralegal drafts are the original petition for divorce and temporary orders that allow the client to receive temporary financial spousal and/or child support pending the outcome of a divorce. In particularly volatile circumstances, sometimes the paralegal may draft a temporary restraining order that prohibits the client’s spouse from contacting him or from selling or squandering marital assets. All documentation filed with the court is first reviewed by the paralegal’s supervising attorney.

Communicating With the Court

  • Maintaining close contact with the county court in which a divorce is filed is a requisite for the family law attorney; she informs her supervising attorney of any pending court dates or additional requests that come from the court. If a divorce is uncontested and the client and his spouse are in concurrence on important matters, this makes the paralegal’s job much easier. However, in difficult divorce suits, a court may order the couple to undergo marital counseling or mediation or even order counseling for the couple’s children. The family law paralegal relays all relevant correspondence from the court to her supervising attorney and to the client.

Client Communication

  • Maintaining ongoing written correspondence is a large part of a family law paralegal’s duties. In a particularly contentious divorce case in which only the two spouses’ attorneys are speaking to each other, the paralegal drafts letters apprising the client of his spouse’s response to a proposed community property settlement or custody arrangement, per her supervising attorney’s instructions. If the court orders mediation and arbitration, the paralegal might also schedule a qualified mediator and inform both the client and his spouse of the time and date. Keeping the client informed of every interaction between his attorney and his spouse’s attorney, as well as court actions, is key to the paralegal’s job.

What a Family Law Paralegal Can’t Do

  • An extremely proficient family law paralegal can do everything that her supervising attorney can do except for two things: give a client legal advice and represent the client in court. Because family law cases are extremely sensitive and maintaining client confidentiality is essential, the paralegal should never discuss a client’s case with anyone other than her supervising attorney and those working on his case–and only within the confines of the law firm’s four walls.

How to Issue a Subpoena for Family Law Court

A subpoena is a legal mechanism compelling a party to produce documents or evidence. Because family law cases can be contentious affairs, often parties to a suit do not want to produce requested documents or evidence. So a party must get the court to issue a subpoena. By filling out a form, filing it and serving notice you can compel a person to give you the documents or evidence.

Instructions

  1. Fill out the subpoena form. The requirements may vary slightly by state, but most of the requested information will be the same. Fill out your name in either the plaintiff or defendant area. Underneath the names for the parties are boxes for criminal and civil. Because a family law matter is a civil case check the civil box. Fill out the name and address of the person who is receiving the subpoena.

    In the section that states, “YOU ARE ORDERED” you must check the appropriate box or boxes. If you are ordering the person to appear at a hearing, include the time and place. Three of the most common reasons for a subpoena are to require someone to testify at trial, to testify at a deposition or to produce certain documents. Check all boxes that apply.

    Fill out your name, address and phone number. Date and sign the subpoena and include your bar number or have your attorney sign the form. If you are not an attorney, check with the court as you will probably have to get the permission of the court to issue a subpoena.

  2. Serve notice on the party. If this is the first time serving notice on this person, or you have had any problems with mail service, serve it by certified mail. You can attempt to serve it by personal service, by having a process server hand it directly to the person. Personal service must be done by someone other than you who is at least 18 years old. Doing personal service yourself is illegal, can intensify the emotional conflict between family law parties and can lead to violence. It can also cause the court to delay the proceedings or dismiss your case because of improper service.
  3. File the form with the court by mail or hand delivery. Send a copy of the form with a brief letter indicating that you have served a subpoena on the person.

How to Request a New Judge in a Family Law Case

Unfortunately, getting a new judge appointed to your family law matter is a lot like making an elephant move from one side of the room to the other. If he doesn’t want to go, you’re not likely to be able to push him on your own. You’ll need the full force of the law behind you and that may be hard to come by unless you have specific and indisputable grounds.

Assignment of Judges

  • How you end up with a particular judge in your family law case depends on your state’s laws, but judges are typically assigned on a set rotation. The same judge often deals with everything in a case from the initial motions through the trial. North Carolina calls this the “One Judge, One Family” rule. You may be aware right from the start that there’s a potential problem because you and the judge have a personal conflict, or you may not realize it until you appear in court and the judge consistently rules against you. By then it may be too late to remove him from the case. Some states won’t let you do so after your case is underway.

Grounds for Request

  • In most states, you must have specific grounds for having your judge removed and replaced by another. It’s possible in North Carolina if he has a personal connection with you, your ex or someone else in your family. You may be able to request the judge’s removal on the grounds that he has a financial interest in your case, for example, because he’s made an offer on the home you’re hoping to sell as part of your divorce. Arizona is a bit more generous – you can allege almost anything you think might make him biased against you, but you’ll have to prove your allegations. You have the most leeway in states like California, which allows you to object to the judge assigned to your family law case without proving grounds. This is called a peremptory challenge, but you can only do it if you haven’t yet appeared before that judge for any reason.

Motion to Remove

  • If you have grounds, your next step is to file a motion or petition with the court, officially requesting a new judge. Even in states like California, your peremptory challenge must be incorporated into a formal motion. Most states do not have preprinted forms for this because it’s not a common issue, so you may need the help of an attorney to increase your chances of success. You can ask the judge to remove, or “recuse,” himself, citing your grounds, and he might do so if your reasons are sound. You can also ask the court to order a replacement judge if he doesn’t voluntarily recuse himself. When you file your motion, you must serve a copy of the paperwork on your spouse.

The Outcome

  • If the court denies your motion for a new judge or you fail to act in time, you’re most likely stuck with the judge assigned to your case. All may not be lost, however. If he honestly has some unprovable grudge against you, you may be able to pull the plug on the matter rather than proceed and end up with an unfair result. If you filed the complaint or petition to begin your family law case and your spouse has not yet filed a counterclaim, you can dismiss your case and refile unless time is of the essence, such as a custody order. Your matter might be assigned to a different judge the next time, although the odds of this happening depend on the number of judges on the bench in your particular county. The fewer judges, the more likely you are to end up with the same one. Make absolutely sure that your spouse hasn’t filed a counterclaim before you voluntarily dismiss your case, and consult with an attorney as well. If your spouse has filed a counterclaim before you have dismissed your petition, the case will proceed uncontested and the result might be even worse than having a biased judge.

How to Get Free Family Law Help

Family law issues are confusing and usually require the assistance of an attorney barred in the state where you reside. Lawyers are expensive and it is difficult for many people in need of legal help to afford a lawyer. Many programs are available to help serve low income people in need of family law help.

Instructions

  1. Define why you are seeking legal help and outline the family law issue you need addressed.
  2. Contact the law schools in your area. Many law schools operate free clinics that provide free family law advice and representation. Check to see if a local law school has a free family law clinic that can help you.
  3. Contact the local chapter of legal aid. The mission of legal aid is to provide representation for people who otherwise can not afford a lawyer. Qualification may vary but most legal aid represent folks who need help if their income is at or below the poverty line.
  4. Look for lawyers that run a pro bono program. Many large corporate lawyer firms run a pro bono program. These firms allow their lawyers to donate some of their time for free. Many large firms use pro bono programs to enable young attorneys to get client, negotiation and court room experience. Although the attorneys in the pro bono program may be young and relatively inexperienced, pro bono lawyers at large firms are likely to have top grades and prestigious law review experience from top law schools.
  5. Check the US Justice Department’s (DOJ) list of free legal service providers. The Office of the Chief Immigration Judge maintains a list of n attorneys, bar associations, and nonprofit organizations willing to provide free legal services to indigent individuals in immigration proceedings pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 1003.61. Many of the lawyers on the list help with family law matters as well as immigration concerns.
  6. Document your financial need. If you plan to use a legal aid lawyer, select a lawyer off the DOJ free providers list, participate in a free law clinic at a law school or take advantage of the pro bono program of a large law firm, then you will be asked to show that you meet the definition of financial need. Before requesting services from any of these programs, check to be sure you qualify and collect the documents needed to prove your qualification.
  7. Contact a local attorney who works on a contingency basis. Lawyers paid by contingency fee usually accept cases based on the quality of the case and without regard to the financial need of the client. Many lawyers do not charge for the first consultation visit. In the first visit, the lawyer will listen to your problems and evaluate your legal case. If the lawyer decides to represent you, the lawyer may take the case on a contingency basis rather than billing you on an hourly basis for legal work. In other words, if the lawyer takes your case on contingency, the lawyer will take a fee based on a percentage of the money awarded to you after a settlement or successful conclusion of litigation. Lawyers working on a contingency will not take your case if they think you are not likely to get an award of damages because the lawyer will not be paid unless you win your case. Family matters are not usually taken on contingency, but some are and a lawyer listening to your facts may be able to refer you to a lawyer that can help you with your family law question for free.

How to File a Motion for Family Law

The rules of civil procedure govern the filing of a motion in a family law case. Although the rules of civil procedure vary slightly from one state to another, the general provisions governing the filing of a motion for family law largely are the same. Before proceeding with a motion in a family law case, familiarize yourself with the basic elements of civil procedure relating to pursuing a motion. By doing so you ensure that your motion is properly brought before the court.

Instructions

  1. Discuss with the other party or parties the issue you desire to raise in your motion before filing. Family law prefers that parties attempt to negotiate issues before seeking judicial intervention. The judge likely will ask what efforts you made to settle a matter when you file a motion in a family law case.
  2. Obtain a motion form from the clerk of the court. Court clerks maintain standard forms, including motion forms, for use by people not represented by counsel.
  3. Title the motion. For example, if you want to file a motion to change custody, title the document “Motion to Change Custody.”
  4. Insert the case caption and case number at the top of the motion.
  5. Include the essential facts and arguments supporting your position. If you are seeking a change of custody, set forth the facts that support your request.
  6. Duplicate at least two copies of the motion, one for the opposing party and one for your records.
  7. File the motion with the clerk of the court by handing the motion to an assistant or deputy clerk at the clerk’s office at the courthouse.
  8. Send a copy of the motion to the opposing party. Pursuant to civil procedure rules, the filing of the motion is not completed until a copy is delivered to the other party to the family law case

How to File a Motion for Family Law

The rules of civil procedure govern the filing of a motion in a family law case. Although the rules of civil procedure vary slightly from one state to another, the general provisions governing the filing of a motion for family law largely are the same. Before proceeding with a motion in a family law case, familiarize yourself with the basic elements of civil procedure relating to pursuing a motion. By doing so you ensure that your motion is properly brought before the court.

Instructions

  1. Discuss with the other party or parties the issue you desire to raise in your motion before filing. Family law prefers that parties attempt to negotiate issues before seeking judicial intervention. The judge likely will ask what efforts you made to settle a matter when you file a motion in a family law case.
  2. Obtain a motion form from the clerk of the court. Court clerks maintain standard forms, including motion forms, for use by people not represented by counsel.
  3. Title the motion. For example, if you want to file a motion to change custody, title the document “Motion to Change Custody.”
  4. Insert the case caption and case number at the top of the motion.
  5. Include the essential facts and arguments supporting your position. If you are seeking a change of custody, set forth the facts that support your request.
  6. Duplicate at least two copies of the motion, one for the opposing party and one for your records.
  7. File the motion with the clerk of the court by handing the motion to an assistant or deputy clerk at the clerk’s office at the courthouse.
  8. Send a copy of the motion to the opposing party. Pursuant to civil procedure rules, the filing of the motion is not completed until a copy is delivered to the other party to the family law case.

How to Study Family Law

Whether you are a lawyer, law student, or have a personal family issue you are trying to resolve, there are a number of resources available to help answer your legal questions. Family law is a specialization of legal practice that focuses on the laws that relate to family interactions. Subcategories of family law include marriage, divorce, child custody, support, property and adoption. Each state has its own statutes and case law that govern the legalities of family interactions. Follow these guidelines to study family law issues that interest you.

Instructions

  1. Visit a local law library for resource materials. Law schools and most major metropolitan courthouses have extensive law libraries. Law firms that practice family law and in-house counsel for entities that handle family law issues also often have legal resources pertinent to their practice.
  2. Read your state’s family law statutes and legislation. The written statutes are often codified. For example, access the Texas Family Code to find laws pertaining to family issues in Texas.
  3. Study a treatise on family law for a broad understanding of family law issues. Law students refer to the treatises as hornbooks, which are single-volume books written primarily for law students. They are similar to encyclopedias in that they summarize the various aspects of that type of law. They are not state-specific, but will provide references and footnotes to cited cases. As hornbooks are on subjects typically covered by law-school courses, several are available for family law.
  4. Review legal study guides and BARBRI outlines for family law. Study guides generally explain the basic issues without providing detailed analysis. BARBRI outlines are general subject outlines for students preparing to take the Bar Exam.
  5. Volunteer or intern at a family legal aid center. Impoverished people seeking legal help for their problems present a multitude of issues to workers at legal-aid centers.
  6. Watch court proceedings in local family courts. Most judges have full dockets with a variety of legal issues before them, ranging from child-support hearings to divorce trials.

Florida Hate Crime Laws

Florida hate crimes law revolves around the idea that if a person is found to have committed a crime based, or partly based, on the race, ethnicity sexual orientation or religion of the victim, the fines and other penalties are increased as a result. The prosecution must prove that the crime was in part based on prejudice rather than the random choosing of the victim by the defendant. Crime in itself is not the only issue, but now the motivation for the crime is now considered.

Data Collection

  • All law enforcement agencies must report to the governor every year on the nature of these sort of crimes. The data collected remains confidential, but the idea is for the government to be fully apprised of the nature of racial or sexually induced crimes in the state.

Places of Worship

  • The law also holds that defacing any place of worship or the articles therein is also considered a hate crime, and is assumed to be based on the particular hatred of the church, mosque or synagogue. It should be noted that minors are also included in this, and are tried as adults as determined by the court. Community service and the removal of the graffiti (if this is the offense) is the punishment for minors.

“Prejudice”

  • The hard part is figuring out if “prejudice” is involved in the motivation of the crime. In certain sections, but not all, the Florida code holds that those suffering from a mental or physical disability are also protected under these statutes. There are no guidelines for this line of prosecution, and therefore, becomes open to abuse. If a group or individual is intimated or threatened by any of the types of “prejudices” mentioned in the law, the offense is likewise increased. There are no definitions of “threatened” or “coerced” other than the demands and testimony of the prosecution.

Problems and Enforcement

  • The law stipulates also that any crime committed while wearing a “hood or a mask” is also included as a hate crime. The problem with these rather loosely drawn up laws is that there is no precedent in Common Law for comprehending or ascertaining the thoughts of a criminal prior to the commission of a crime. The introduction of thought, not the even more slippery word “prejudice,” into criminal law seems to be a highly politicized means of controlling thought rather than dealing with crime. Ultimately, the thoughts of a perpetrator can only be assumed, not proven. Even the act, for example, of yelling racial slurs while beating a victim might be the result of general sociopathy rather than any studied racial contempt.

Criminal Laws of Denmark

Denmark has a number of laws that are enforced to protect the public and put in jail those who have been found guilty of criminal activity. Many of these laws are similar to those in other Western countries, though some are enforced more stringently or more loosely than in other countries, depending on the degree of severity of a particular offense as determined by Danish law.

Gun and Assault Laws

  • Guns are illegal in Denmark and the laws against them are stringent, putting anyone who carries a gun and is not legally allowed to do so in jail. Only police officers and soldiers are legally allowed to carry guns, which effectively prevents would-be criminals from the ability to rob or harm anyone by using a gun. As such, knives and lead pipes have become the weapon of choice and are now considered deadly weapons in Denmark. In January 2008 more then 13 people were knifed in Denmark, resulting in two deaths. Stricter laws have been enforced in recent years regarding assault with a deadly weapon, putting those convicted in prison for longer sentences, which vary based on the severity of the crime.

Money Laundering Laws

  • Denmark has very strict laws when it comes to money laundering, as this serves as the source of funding for many criminal and terrorist organizations. Stopping the financial transactions of criminals is one way to stop their criminal activity. If Danish authorities convict someone of money laundering or funneling money to a terrorist organization, the individual found guilty can receive up to 10 years imprisonment. Financial institutions can also be punished if they do not report suspicious money laundering activity, as they are considered to be aiding the financing operation. This includes all advisors or intermediaries to a financial institution or someone who works independently in finance for a number of different clients.

Drug Laws

  • Denmark has relatively strict drug laws, which are similar to those in the United States, though they are much more lenient toward those who simply possess or are addicted to drugs. For possession or addiction, those who are caught and convicted are often sent to a detoxification center or receive very light prison sentences. However, this depends on what type of drugs are being used or are possessed at the time of the arrest. Drugs such as marijuana or mushrooms are considered soft drugs in Denmark and are not considered dangerous. However, drugs such as cocaine, ecstacy and heroin are considered harder drugs and carry stricter criminal penalties. Long prison sentences are given to those who are caught in possession of a large amount of any of these drugs, as these individuals are considered to harbor the intention to sell them, which is strictly forbidden in Denmark.