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How to Become an Attorney in Utah

Friday, 9th January 2009

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Article by Rex Curtis Bush,  Utah attorney at Law, Member Utah State Bar since 1984.  Juris Doctor (law degree) from University of Utah College of Law, 1983.

Consider first, why do you want to become a Utah attorney?   Is it for prestige?  Money?

Go to court and watch some Utah attorneys in action.  Remember that many Utah attorneys don’t go to court at all so you’ll want to know how they spend their time.

Typically, lawyers spend time reading, talking on the phone, writing and meeting with clients, other lawyers, paralegals and support personnel.  Sometimes they just sit and think.  I do a lot of that.  Usually while I’m staring out the window.

Visit a law school.  Observe the law students.  Notice the extremely large books they are reading.  Do you like reading big books?  If you don’t like to read,  law school will be extremely difficult and unpleasant.

According to a survey of 800 lawyers conducted by the American Bar Association in 2006, fully 80 percent surveyed said they were proud to be attorneys, and 81 percent said they find their practice intellectually stimulating.

There were times when I did not enjoy being a Utah attorney and when I searched for another career path but today, after nearly 25 years as a practicing attorney in Utah, I find my job fun, satisfying and materially rewarding.

Once you are satisfied you will like your work as a Utah attorney it is time to focus on the specifics of qualifying for the job.

To become an attorney in Utah you need to pass the Utah Bar Exam.  Passing the Bar exam is not difficult if you study and are well prepared for it.  The trick is qualifying to take the exam.

To be able to “sit for the bar exam” you need to graduate from one of the approximately 192 law schools that are approved by the American Bar Association.  In Utah there are two:  BYU and the U of U.  Which means, of course, that the other 190 schools are out of state.

Getting into an approved law school can be the biggest challenge to becoming an attorney in Utah.  hallenge.  Acceptance is based on your grade point average (gpa) in college (most schools require you to have or be close to getting a bachelor’s degree) and your score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

At Harvard the lowest gpa at Yale Law School was 3.83 and the lowest LSAT score was 170 (98.4 percentile).  At the other end of the spectrum was Southern University where the lowest gpa was 143 (20.4 percentile.)  We have Utah attorneys who have graduated from nearly every one of the 192 approved law schools.

If you are determined to become an attorney in Utah your best possible strategy is to work your ass off in college and get your best possible grades because you don’t know yet what you will score on the LSAT.  Studying something you like will help.  Good grades in majors like engineering or computer science don’t rank any higher than those in Spanish or Elementary Ed.

There are special classes that promise to help you prepare for the LSAT.  I did not take one but my son-in-law did and I believe he found it helpful.

 
 
 

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