Law School Discussion

Getting ABA after the bar.

Getting ABA after the bar.
« on: June 25, 2012, 06:58:52 AM »

I graduated from a non-ABA California law school, passed the bar exam, got sworn in, etc.

My question now is, how do I get ABA accreditation???

I don't want to repeat 3 years of law school, so I'm wondering if I can get an LLM from an ABA school that will give me all the rights and privileges afforded to ABA JDs. Would the LLM need to be in a specific major? I read somewhere that most states just require that the applicant have 26 ABA-Accredited credits in bar exam subjects. Could I complete an LLM designed for foreign lawyers? Or, would it be possible for me to get an LLM that is specialized (i.e. tax or business law).

I'm not planning on practicing law. So, this is more of a career move than a professional (law practice) move. I'm planning on starting work by the end of this year, so something I could do part time would be preferable (like Professional (summer school), online (I've sort-of had enough of online), or evenings) I would also prefer the best brand name I could get.

Any input on this issue would be greatly appreciated.

Btw, sorry for any typos, I'm writing this at 3:50 in the morning.

Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2012, 11:35:17 AM »
Why do you need the ABA accreditation if you don't want to practice law?  It's not quite clear what you want to do.  If you want an LLM, does that mean you want to teach law?  Is the school you went to state accredited?

Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2012, 11:45:48 AM »
State accredited...? Not sure. I'm licensed to practice CA law and I can go through the motions to become licensed to practice federal law as well.

But, I think my school's website says that it is not accredited by CA. I'm not clear on those technicalities.

The reason I'm wondering about getting ABA is, in part, because I think that having a fully accredited degree would look better on a resume (duh), and also just because I'm curious. On a bit of a side note, I'm studying for the CPA exam, and if I where to be able to get an LLM in tax and get ABA accreditation at the same time... couldn't hurt.

Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2012, 12:18:24 PM »
Well, there are a few things to consider.

First, the ABA does not accredit LL.M programs, only J.D. programs. A particular law school may have ABA approval and may also grant LL.Ms, but the LL.M program itself will not be ABA accredited. Even if you got an LL.M from Harvard, for example, that would not qualify you to sit for most state's bar exams. Most states require that you have an ABA-accredited J.D. Foreign lawyers can sometimes get an LL.M and practice in the U.S., but it really depends on where they went to law school (some foreign degrees are recognized by some states, others aren't), and what state they want to practice in. In short, your J.D. really determines whether your legal education is ABA approved.

You need to find out what accreditation your law school has. If it's non-ABA and non-CBE (CA state), then it's probably unaccredited. Sometimes these school advertise themselves as being "Registered with the California State Bar" or something like that. This is important because many LL.M programs will require that your J.D. be from an ABA accredited school. Some, however, don't. You'll need to check out each individual school.

Here is the main issue: you said that you don't want to practice law. If that is the case, spending tens of thousands of dollars on an LL.M is pointless. Please understand that I'm not trying to be rude or overly critical, it's just a fact. For the vast majority of legal jobs (other than tax and maybe natural resources law) an LL.M is usually uneccessary. For non-legal jobs an LL.M is completely uneccessary. For non-legal jobs an LL.M, even from a big name school, is probably not going to help. 

Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2012, 12:44:34 PM »

So my school is registered as an unaccredited law school.

Purely out of curiosity, as a CA attorney from an unaccredited law school, what would be the absolute fastest way to get a JD that is accredited by the ABA? Is an ABA-accredited school allowed to accept any transfer credits from an unaccredited school?

(kind-of sounds nice to go to law school and not have to worry about taking the bar exam at the end :)

Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2012, 12:54:44 PM »
By the way,

I have a fully accredited undergraduate degree. I'm guessing that factors in somehow.

Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2012, 01:21:50 PM »
From the horse's mouth: Standard 308 of the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools states "The ABA does not formally approve any program other than the first degree in law (J.D.)."

As far as I know, ABA approved schools will not accept credits from an unaccredited law program. I have seen some ABA schools which will accept a certain number of transfer credits from a California state bar approved school, but never from an unaccredited program. I think you'd be starting from scratch if you decided to get another J.D. from an ABA approved school. In addition, since you're already a member of the bar, it's possible that you're more or less prohibited from attending law school again. You'd have such a huge advantage over your non-lawyer classmates that schools might be very skeptical about admitting you. I imagine that neither the ABA nor the individual law schools themselves want to encourage people to obtain bar admission first, then seek admission to law school. You may even want to check with the CA bar, they may have some restrictions on acquiring a second J.D.

You're already admitted to the CA bar, which is no small task! You should be proud of that accomplishment and focus on building a career either in law, which you're already qualified for, or in another field which doesn't require an ABA degree. I don't know you or your situation, so everything I say might be totally wrong and misguided. If so, ignore my advice. But based on the small amount of information you've provided, I don't see how an ABA law degree (which would cost possibly $100,000+) would be especially useful. What field do you want to work in?

BTW, your undergrad degree would only matter in terms of J.D. admissions. This is just my personal opinion, but I have a strong suspicion that most law schools absolutely, positively will not want to admit a student to a J.D program who is already a licensed attorney. I would contact the individual schools and ask them directly. I might be wrong.   

Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2012, 01:25:21 PM »
As far as I know, no ABA law school will take any courses from an unaccredited school.  I also attend an ABA in California, and even my school that is not highly ranked limits transfer credits even from a state accredited school - let alone unaccredited.  Unfortunately, you would have to start all over again.  Although I don't know why you would want to since you already passed the bar and have no intention of practicing law.   As Roald said, why would you want to spend the money?

Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2012, 05:27:49 PM »
Thanks for the information (Roald ;) ). Like I said, I'm curious about the procedure for acquiring ABA after becoming licensed. Plus, I'm just considering my options because I'm in my early twenties, so even if I were to go through law school all over again, I would still graduate with my pier group. Also, being from a non-ABA school, this kind of information is nice to know when new students or alumni have questions.

However, I am starting a career in business through accounting and if I ever were to practice law, it would probably either be federal law (i.e. federal tax, bankruptcy, or patent) or as a professional consultant (not requiring license). So, repeating a J.D. for the purpose of ABA is not beneficial to me.

Moving back to the question of an LL.M. in tax, without regards to ABA-accreditation, do you guys have any LL.M. program recommendations that are doable for someone who is working full time in LA? The reason I ask is because, and I know this is contrary to the common view on this forum, the acquisition of an LL.M. has been highly recommended to me by high-ranking business professionals (corporate in-house counsels, accountants, consultants, and analysts) with whom I have spoken. And, when I say highly recommended, I mean HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. So, this question comes without regards to the merits of an LL.M. Also, it would be nice to associate with a well respected institutional brand.

Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2012, 07:55:48 PM »
If you plan to practice tax law an LL.M is a good idea, if you plan to work as an accountant only, it might not be worth the extra expense. Taxation, as I said before, is one of the few areas in which LL.Ms are often required/beneficial.

As far as programs in the LA area (my hometown too!), I'm not sure. I imagine that UCLA and USC have tax programs, and maybe Loyola. If you plan to open your own office it doesn't really matter where you go, you'll be your own boss. If you want to get into a decent sized firm, however, it matters alot. The bigger firms will want to see a bigger name, ideally someplace like NYU. Hiring at those places is very competitive.