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How Your Lawyer Got to Where They Are

How Your Lawyer Got to Where They Are

By Jeff J. Horn – Divorce Attorney

How Your Lawyer Got to Where They Are

Becoming a Lawyer: Learn the process of becoming a lawyer, from taking the LSAT to surviving the bar exam. Understand the hoops your lawyer has gone through in order to provide the best service for your case. Get educated on how to manage your lawyer and your case.

Ever wonder how your lawyer got to where they are? Your lawyer has graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree and then spent years going through hoops.  The first hoop is signing up for the law school entrance exam known as the Law School Admission Test. The LSAT is comparable to other standardized tests. The test-taker must be able to read quickly and provide answers to questions that exam writers think are correct. Entrance to law school is competitive based upon a combination of LSAT score and college grade point average.  There is no specific curriculum that must be followed in order to gain entrance into law school.  There may be certain pre-requisite, mandatory undergraduate classes.  However, the notion of a “pre-law” curriculum has no uniform meaning.  Law students come from diverse societal, economic, educational, and experiential backgrounds.

If you can graduate from high school and college and manage a good enough LSAT score, your last hurdle is surviving the horror of submitting the law school application.  The application is submitted in part to the law school and in part to the Law School Admission Service.  This is a private company that gathers up things like transcripts and supporting documents and sends them to the law school for a fee. The Law School Admission Service is nothing more than an administrative entry barrier to future lawyers.

On to Law School

The first day of law school can be quite intimidating.  There is a subtle language to learn and there is the substantial task of mastering law professor ego-management. In law school, the student is subjected to learning how to write in a manner acceptable to other lawyers, judges, and law school professors. Law students also learn how to research the law and are introduced to the foundation of western civilization and law. 

Law school starts with the common law through analysis of judicial opinions.  Most studied opinions are instructive as exceptions to the rule. Professors often try to teach through the Socratic Method. Very few lawyers become litigators at a high level and need this sort of training.  The Socratic Method will teach a feisty law student how to channel the ability to craft a plausible argument and answer questions when neither the facts nor the law are on your side.  The Socratic Method will do nothing to enhance a student’s understanding of the substantive areas of the law.

Law students are not graded based upon their oral advocacy skills or ability to answer questions in the Socratic Method classroom.  Each class has one to two exams or one to two written papers.  Everything is riding on these one or two written products.  Your case will never turn on your lawyer’s ability to write a three-hour answer to a ridiculous hypothetical question posed by a law professor.  Again, law school has nothing to do with the practice of law.

Bar Exam

Your lawyer has endured two to three days of hell — the last days of July or the last days of February each year when the bar exam is given.  The bar exam is in two parts — multiple-choice and essay.  The nation-wide multiple-choice exam tests the knowledge of substantive areas of law, and the state exam, which combines essays, short answers, and even some multiple-choice questions.  Both exams contain trick questions and silly hypothetical fact patterns.

The law school exam requires the student to provide an in-depth understanding of spotting issues, stating the rule, and analyzing.  In contrast, having the right answer but not articulating the reasoning, utilizing the right rule, or spotting all of the issues will doom the bar exam test-taker.  The most common reason cited by those who fail the bar exam is time management.  Bar exam test-takers are under extraordinary time pressure. As silly as it sounds, four years of college, three years of law school, months of bar exam preparation, all rest in perhaps 3,000 written words over the course of six or seven hours on the state bar exam day.  Approximately, three in ten fail the bar exam.  Around one in ten will never pass.  The bar exam and your lawyer’s bar exam score has nothing to do with the practice of law.

Why Discuss the Process of Becoming a Lawyer?

You need to know what your lawyer has gone through in order to understand how the lawyer looks at things, how the lawyer looks at your case, your spouse’s case, your spouse’s lawyer, and you, as a person.  Many lawyers are miserable and disappointed people. The process of becoming a lawyer is frustratingly based on the lawyer’s ability to leap through a sophisticated series of random and maddening hoops.

The only reason you should care is so that you have a base of understanding and the use of this information as a management tool of your lawyer and your case. If you offer nothing but further aggravation, your lawyer may see you as a hurdle to a paycheck.  This cynical view of lawyers is overstated to make the point that you need to know your lawyer, understand something about lawyers, and use your judgment accordingly.  Start managing your lawyer by asking, “Do you like being a lawyer?”



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Thanks to Horn Law Group, LLC intern Noah Hilsdorf.