Florida is a major hub for legal professionals. It boasts a thriving economy, esteemed law schools, and an exceptional standard of living. For these very reasons, tens of thousands of lawyers—77,223, to be exact—have decided to call the Sunshine State home.
So, how do you become a lawyer in Florida? In this post, we’ll cover the step-by-step process, including:
- Education requirements
- Bar exam preparation
- Licensure (and how to maintain it)
- Tips for becoming a successful lawyer in Florida
- The average salary of a Florida attorney
Is it hard to become a lawyer in Florida?
The journey to become a lawyer in Florida is rigorous, but worthwhile, and typically takes up to seven years. First, you will need to complete a 4-year undergraduate degree, followed by a 3-year law degree. After completing the law program, you will have to pass the Bar Examination and a Professional Ethics exam in Florida and pass a background check.
Steps to become a lawyer in Florida
As we mentioned above, to become a lawyer in Florida requires dedication, but the hard work pays off. Below, we’ll dive into the steps to becoming a lawyer in Florida.
1. Get your bachelor’s degree
Your journey to become a lawyer in Florida involves lots of legal education—starting with your bachelors degree. Under the rules of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, attending a school that’s accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) is mandatory.
There aren’t any requirements for the major or minor that you choose for your undergraduate education. Still, it’s wise to focus on courses that can sharpen the knowledge and skills you’ll need as a future lawyer in Florida—such as written communication, attention to detail, and critical thinking.
Popular majors include:
- Political science
- International relations
As you reach the end of your degree and determine that law school is right for you, you’ll need to take and pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This standardized test measures your reading comprehension, reasoning, and writing through multiple-choice questions and a written essay.
This test is challenging, which is why many students find it helpful to take an LSAT exam prep course. Many universities across Florida offer this to students, equipping them with proven strategies for answering logical reasoning questions and best practices on approaching the reading comprehension section.
2. Earn your law degree
Now that you’ve completed your undergraduate degree, your next step is to enter a three-year Juris Doctor (JD) degree. This degree must be obtained from one of the 200 ABA-accredited law schools in the United States to receive your law license in Florida.
It’s not mandatory—but studying where you plan to practice law can be advantageous. Internships during law school, for instance, can help forge powerful connections that may lead to your dream job. Here’s our list of the top law schools in the country that can provide excellent education and networking opportunities. If you decide to study in Florida, you can choose from 12 ABA-accredited schools, including:
- Florida A&M University College of Law
- Florida State University College of Law
- University of Miami School of Law
- Fort Lauderdale Stetson University College of Law
3. Pass the Florida State Bar Exam
The last step before you can practice law in Florida is to pass the state bar exam.
You’re encouraged to register with the Florida Board of Bar Examiners while you’re in your first year of law school. By doing so, you’ll receive information about the bar exam process, requirements, and deadlines—helping you stay on the right path.
Once you graduate, you must be admitted to the bar and pass the two-day bar examination to practice law. The Florida Bar exam is offered twice a year, in February and July. It consists of various components:
- A Florida, State-Specific Exam. A six-hour exam featuring three essay questions and 100 Florida-specific multiple-choice questions.
- Multistate Bar Exam. A six-hour test featuring 200 multiple-choice questions.
Bar exams tend to be comprehensive, difficult, and a test of endurance, so it’s a good idea to study hard and take a bar preparation course.
In addition to the Florida Bar Exam, you must also pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). This two-hour test of multiple-choice questions may be taken at the same time as the bar exam or while you’re still in law school.
4. Gain hands-on experience in the field
One benefit to being a lawyer is that you have your choice of a wide array of settings to work in. If you’re unsure where to start, a great way to understand the field is to gain hands-on experience. Internships, clinics, volunteering, and pro bono work can all provide a peek into the inner workings of the law. Not only can this help determine the best fit for you, but it also sets you apart in the eyes of employers.
Here’s a quick snapshot of a couple of opportunities in Florida:
- Florida State University College of Law offers a Clinical Externship program with placements at over 60 public law offices.
- Florida Coastal School of Law offers judicial externships with courts, including the Florida Supreme Court.
4. Connect with potential clients
After obtaining your law degree and passing the bar, you’ve reached the final step to becoming a lawyer in Florida. Whether you’ve decided to be a solo practitioner or join a firm or government agency, you’ll need to find clients. Professional organizations like the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division can be valuable, as they bring together lawyers and potential clients.
As your hard work pays off and you take on more cases, you’ll find that administrative work builds up. Get familiar with technologies that will make your life significantly easier. Clio Grow, for example, helps lawyers simplify the client intake process through customized forms on a platform that can be used anywhere, any time. .
Deciding what kind of lawyer to become? Be sure to check out our resources on different practice areas.
5. Maintain your license
You’re required to complete 33 hours of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) every three years to keep your legal license in Florida. In particular:
- Five hours must be in ethics, professionalism, mental illness awareness, or substance abuse
- Three hours must be in technology
You will be assigned your own individual three-year reporting cycle when you receive your legal license. Your MCLE credits must be posted online in the Florida Bar system.
Tips for becoming a successful lawyer in Florida
Curious about what it takes to become a successful lawyer in Florida? Here are a few tips.
- Tap into the latest legal technology. Legal technology empowers modern-day lawyers, helping them work more efficiently and deliver better client service. According to the Florida Bar’s 2022 Economics and Law Office Management Survey, 71% of lawyers reported that technology has improved their relationships with clients.
- Focus on networking. Networking can help advance your career by connecting you with like-minded legal professionals, mentors, and potential clients.
- Join elective membership organizations. Elective membership organizations—like the Florida Justice Association, Florida Defense Lawyers Association, and the Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida—offer many benefits. They can build stronger relationships, provide education opportunities, and promote skill development.
Average salary of Florida lawyers
Lawyers in Florida earned an average salary of $135,840 in 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salary amounts vary based on location, experience, and area of expertise. For instance, The Florida Bar’s Economics and Law Office Management survey found that lawyers in the northern region of Florida make slightly less than their southern counterparts.
Final notes on becoming a lawyer in Florida
Becoming a lawyer in Florida is no easy task. The journey is long and requires plenty of perseverance and dedication. However, it’s also extremely rewarding—especially as you’ll play a direct role in improving your clients’ lives.
Looking to set yourself up for success in your quest to becoming a journey? Clio’s Academic Access Program helps participants get hands-on experience in different areas of case management—and offers law and paralegal students, instructors, and legal clinics free access to Clio’s industry-leading legal practice management and client intake software.