There’s a fine line between a paralegal and a lawyer when it comes to responsibilities. Both have the task of compiling the proper information to have a civil or criminal case move in their favor.
Sometimes, the paralegal has an urge to move from their current position and become an attorney. If you’re one of these individuals, here are a few suggestions on how to smoothly make the transition from a paralegal to a lawyer.
Establish Proper Funding
To complete these educational steps, you need proper funding for tuition. Part of this comes from your continuing work as a paralegal. To supplement, consider asking the firm if they’re willing to invest in part of your education. If not, try to obtain scholarships and grants instead of relying on financial aid.
Obtain The Right Education
The first thing to do to go from paralegal to lawyer is to obtain the proper education. If you reached your current status through a high school or associate’s degree and in-house training, then you need to take the next steps. Primarily, this means completing your bachelor’s degree.
Take The LSATs
Before you fill out law school applications, you must complete a test to qualify. The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) gauges your legal knowledge up to your last year of college. You have to pass with a score between 120-180 to move forward.
The advantage you have as a paralegal is previous experience; thus, your score could be at the top end of the scale.
Choose Your Law School
The score you receive on your LSATs tends to determine the law schools you sign up for. Online sites like ParalegalEDU.org help you find the right institutions to go from paralegal to lawyer. They have information on the schools’ accreditation, costs, and available courses. You also have an opportunity to read reviews of other students that help narrow your choice.
Achieve A Juris Doctor
You need to obtain a Juris Doctor (JD) from your law school. This means completing the required course hours. If you decide to go full-time, this normally takes place within three years. It takes longer if you decide to go part-time or take a lighter course load.
Pass The Bar Exam
One of the last steps to take to transition from a paralegal to an attorney is to pass the American Bar Association (ABA) exam. This allows you to practice law in one state. Should you fail, you need to take the bar exam again until you’re certified. Furthermore, if you relocate to another state, then you have to take the bar exam there to continue your career.
Needless to say, there’s much to consider in transitioning from a paralegal to a lawyer. You need to meticulously weigh the pros and cons of both positions to decide on the right course of action. As part of this effort, speak to attorneys at your current firm to get their opinions. Should you decide on transition, don’t stress out about the investment of money and time.