Legal Services in Colorado
Becoming a Lawyer in Colorado
The first step to becoming a lawyer in Colorado is earning an undergraduate degree from an institution accredited by the United States Department of Education. Law schools do not require any particular degree for admission to law school.
In order to be accepted into a law school, applicants must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The test lasts six hours. It is offered four times a year at locations throughout the United States.
The LSAT measures skills required to be successful in law school and when practicing law after graduation. Skills measured on the LSAT include reading and comprehension, verbal reasoning, organizing information, drawing inferences from reading, critical thinking and the ability to analyze and evaluate arguments. Those sitting for the LSAT can expect to receive their test results in about three weeks.
If students pass the LSAT, the next step is attending law school. Colorado has two American Bar Association (ABA) approved law schools. One is The University of Colorado School of Law and the other is the University Of Denver Sturm College Of Law. The state of Colorado does not require that its lawyers graduate from a law school in the state of Colorado. The law school must be ABA approved.
The core of study in law school includes courses in contracts, civil and criminal law and procedure, legal writing, real estate, torts and Constitutional law. Colorado law schools offer concentrations in areas such as environmental law, business law, international law and intellectual property law. Colorado requires an internship in a legal work setting before graduation.
Upon graduation from law school, the next step is to take the Colorado state bar exam. The bar exam consists of three sections and takes two days to complete. The Multistate Bar Exam portion contains multiple choice questions on topics such as contracts, real estate, Constitutional law, criminal law, torts and evidence. The Multistate Essay Exam portion contains short essay questions over topics including commercial transactions, evidence, contracts, criminal law, public law and probate law. The third and final section, the Multistate Performance Test, measures the applicant's ability to analyze laws and facts, problem solve and perform legal research and writing.
Once attorney candidates pass the bar exam, they have six months to take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. The preparation for this course counts as Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits.
Upon notification of passing the bar exam, attorney candidates must attend an admission ceremony, pay a licensing fee and sign an oath of admission. In order to remain licensed to practice law in the state of Colorado, one must maintain the current CLE requirements.
Free Legal Advice in Colorado
Colorado Legal Services offers legal assistance for low income families. Their website has several forms that people can complete on their own. These legal forms cover a variety of topics such as divorce papers, name changes, child visitation changes, small claims action and housing issues. Colorado does have pro bono or low cost legal clinics throughout the state. These are listed on the Colorado Legal Services website. The website also offers links to government websites with additional information on topics including Medicaid, bankruptcy, elder law and housing.
Legal Associations and Organizations in Colorado
Benefits of joining the Colorado Bar Association include free access to an online legal research database, listing in the Colorado Bar Association Find a Lawyer directory and an online legal dictionary. The bar association website provides links to state court opinions, rules and statutes. Members of the bar receive discounts on health, dental, life and disability insurance.
The Colorado Women's Bar Association offers women CLE credits at a discount, networking opportunities, lobbying opportunities and a voice in appointing judges in Colorado.
Trial lawyers have their own association called The Colorado Defense Lawyer Association. Here, defense attorneys have a chance to network with each other, take specialized CLE courses and work to improve the civil justice system.
Another association for trial lawyers is the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. These Colorado attorneys are dedicated to protecting individual rights, advancing trial advocacy skills and improving ethical standards and professionalism.