Legal professions (pratique judiciaire) - United States
Anglais juridique

Legal professions (pratique judiciaire) - United States

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How does one become an attorney in the United States ? (Comment devenir avocat aux USA ?)


    To attend an American law school, a student must first obtain an undergraduate degree in the subject of his choice : it is a 4-year degree of various required courses and 2 years of specialization with a « major » (a major is the subject that the student specializes in).
    It usually lead to a BA (Bachelor of Arts) ou BS (Bachelor of Science).


    Then the student will apply to a law university program and take the LSAT exam.
    The LSAT exam (=Law School Admission Test) is the important factor in law school admissions.
    Once the student passed the LSAT exam, he will gain admission to an accredited law school.


    Once the student successfully complete the 3-year law school, he will be issued his Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) which will allow him to sit for the bar examination.
    In the first year, law students are generally required to take basic introductory subjects.
    The second and third years allow the student to concentrate on particular areas.
    One of interesting aspect of legal study in the US is the case study = this is meant to train students to analyze a question quickly under stressful conditions for future dealings with judges in court or with clients in negociations.
    There is a moot court competition in the last year where students prepare briefs and argue a case to gain advocacy experience.


    Some studients go on to do an LLM or Master of Laws which is usually a one-year program in a specialized subject such as taxation or intellectual property.


    The bar examination is the final step in the legal education in the US before the student begins practicing law in his state.
    Admission to the practice of law or admission to the bar of a state is governed by various rules.
    For instance, the applicant must have « good moral character » with no previous criminal record, provide references attesting to his or her honesty and integrity, have graduated from an accredited law school, and have passed the bar examination.
    The bar examination usually lasts three days and consists of several parts: essay questions, multi-state multiple choice questions, a professional responsibility exam, and a performance exam.


In the US, upon being sworn in, an attorney-at-law can choose between becoming :

  1. CORPORATE CONSEL (in house): he will work for corporations or businesses as salaried employees.
  2. PUBLIC PROSECUTOR: he will work for the governments and in particular in criminal matters. Judges are usually chosen from members of the legal profession having several years of experience, as there is no school for judicial training.
  3. LEGAL AID SOCIETY (//notaire): in the US there is no such profession as the civil law notaire; therefore lawyers prepare testaments and real estate transactions.
  4. SOLE PRACTITIONERS (cf.Vocabulaire)
  5. A PARTNER IN AN LLP: a partnership is defined as two or more persons who combine their skills, knowledge, clients and assets for a business with an agreement to share profits and losses. Partners manage and run the firm, are responsible and liable for it, and divide the profits.
  6. AN ASSOCIATE IN AN LLP: associates are usually salaried employees of the firm and work for the partners. They may or may not have an employment contract, depending on the firm. Sometimes associates are just out of law school and do not have much experience.
  7. OF COUNSEL: it is a lawyer who has a relationship with a law firm or an organization, but is not an associate or a partner (for instance : a retired lawyer or partner who still wishes to work on a case, a law professor who might be asked to work on a special file, or a « contract lawyer » who works on a temporary basis when the situation requires such assistance).


= secret professionnel
A lawyer may not reveal the content of communications, conversations, and letters between his client and him.
This rule can only exist with a lawyer who has become a member of the bar.

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– to attend an American law school = pour aller à une école de droit américaine
– an undergraduate degree = un diplôme de premier cycle universitaire
– degree = diplôme
– subject = matière
– required courses = cours obligatoires
– Bachelor = licence
– to take the exam = passer l’examen
– to pass the exam = réussir l’examen
– gain admission = être admis
– an accredited law school = une école de droit accréditée
– he will be issued = il lui sera remis
– to sit for the bar examination = se présenter à l’examen du barreau
– it will allow him = ça lui permettra de
– they are required = ils sont tenus de
– particular areas = des domaines spécifiques
– the case study = étude de cas
– to train students = entrainer les étudiants
– stressful conditions = conditions stressantes
– future dealings = des relations futures
– moot court competition = concours de plaidoirie
– prepare briefs = préparent des conclusions
– argue a case = plaider une affaire
– gain advocacy experience = acquérir une expérience en matière de plaidoirie
– go on = continuer
– one-year program = un programme d’une année
– taxation = fiscalité
– intellectual property = propriété intellectuelle
– bar examination = équivalent CAPA
– final step = étape finale
– various rules = diverses règles
– the applicant = le candidat
– a good moral character = une bonne moralité
– criminal record = casier judiciaire
– provide references attesting to his honesty and integrity = fournir des références attestant de son honnêteté et de son intégrité
– it lasts three days = ça dure trois jours
– professional responsibility = déontologie
– upon being sworn in = après avoir prêté serment
– corporations or businesses = corporations et entreprises
– salaried employees = salariés
– real estate transactions = transactions immobilières
– sole practitioners = exerçent seuls
– skills = compétences
– knowledge = connaissance
– assets = biens
– an agreement = un accord
– to share profits and losses = pour partager les bénéfices et les pertes
– manage and run the firm = gèrent et dirigent le cabinet
– employment contract = contrat de travail
– are just out of law school = sortent juste de l’école de droit
– for instance = par exemple
– a retired lawyer = avocat à la retraite
– temporary basis = de manière temporaire
– the situation requires such assistance = la situation nécessite une telle assistance
– the content = le contenu