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- LEGAL EDUCATION IN THE US
- LEGAL PRACTICE AND PROFESSION
- ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE
I. LEGAL EDUCATION IN THE US
How does one become an attorney in the United States ? (Comment devenir avocat aux USA ?)
AN UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE:
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.
JURIS DOCTOR DEGREE (J.D):
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.
LLM or MASTER OF LAWS:
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.
II. LEGAL PRACTICE AND PROFESSION
In the US, upon being sworn in, an attorney-at-law can choose between becoming :
- CORPORATE CONSEL (in house): he will work for corporations or businesses as salaried employees.
- 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.
- 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.
- SOLE PRACTITIONERS (cf.Vocabulaire)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
III. ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE
= 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.
– to attend an American law school = pour aller à une école de droit américaine