Civil Attorney Licensing

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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When searching for a qualified civil attorney, it is important to confirm that they have the proper licenses, certificates, and credentials.  The first place to check would be with the state bar associations.  State bars check the background of a lawyer to determine whether he or she is in compliance with the laws and codes of conduct expected of a civil lawyer.

The first requirement is that a civil attorney must have graduated from a law school certified by the American Bar Association (ABA).  There are a lot of “fly-by-night” law schools out there that will graduate an aspiring attorney just to acquire fees.  ABA-accredited law schools must have a favorable teacher / faculty ratio, must teach certain required subject areas, and must require attendance of all students. 

Second, a civil lawyer must have passed the “bar” for the state in which they will practice.  The state bar is a difficult written test given to attorneys in all states that can span over a period of days.  Only people who pass the bar become civil attorneys. 

Next, a civil attorney must maintain minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) requirements.  For example, the California Bar requires 25 hours of education every three years in legal ethics (doing what is right and good), prevention of substance abuse, and the promotion of fairness and justice. 

A civil attorney must maintain a good standing with their bar association by adhering to the rules of professional conduct.  Violations of the rules of professional conduct will lead to attorney sanctions and punishments.  A civil lawyer’s negative record can often be accessed through your state’s bar association. 

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Last Modified: 06-25-2009 11:31 AM PDT

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