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Q: What is the exact route to become an American lawyer?

Hi, I'm doing research for a book & I'm based in London but the book is about a character who is training to become a lawyer & wondered if I could ask you what the normal route normally is? I would love if I could get typical ages of when someone would typically qualify & how long training contracts are etc? My character is dealing with financial assets of a client who's expecting a potential divorce - what type of lawyer would typically do this?

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1 Lawyer Answer

A: Each state has slightly different rules to become an attorney. Generally you have to get your Juris Doctorate degree (law degree that is 3 years of graduate degree study) after you complete 6 years of bachelors & masters degree study. Then you have to take and pass a bar exam in the state where you wish to practice law (when I took the bar exam in California it was a 3-day test but it recently changed to a 2-day test--covering laws in 12 or 13 different areas of law such as contracts, criminal, torts/civil, civil procedure, constitutional law, etc.), then take an ethics exam (1 day), get an extensive background check completed through the police finger-printing system, and then get sworn in by a Judge.

In California, there is a loophole where you can skip 6 years of schooling if pass College Level Equivalency Program (CLEP) tests and go straight to law school. I did that & I passed the California bar exam the first time I took it. Some people need to take the bar exam multiple times before they pass (it is offered 2 times a year).

Division of assets & debts in a divorce is handled by a family law attorney. CPAs and Private Investigators sometimes help trace assets a and locate hidden assets. This is especially true in larger estate cases. Hope this helps.

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