How to Become a Lawyer in Colorado: Education Requirements, Salary, Bar Exam, and More

Picture a rewarding career where you have the power to advocate for justice, defend the rights of individuals, and navigate complex legal matters. Becoming a lawyer in Colorado offers you that opportunity, but the journey requires dedication, hard work, and a clear understanding of the process. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps on how to become a lawyer in Colorado, from undergraduate education to passing the bar exam and beyond.

Embarking on this fulfilling career path involves completing specific educational requirements, attending law school, and overcoming various challenges. This guide will provide valuable insights, resources, and support to help you navigate the process and ultimately become a successful lawyer in Colorado by understanding how to become a lawyer in Colorado.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Obtain a bachelor’s degree from an ABA-accredited law school and pass the Colorado Bar Exam to become a lawyer in Colorado.

  • Prepare for the LSAT, navigate Law School, tackle the Bar Exam, adhere to application deadlines & requirements, and understand scoring & passing rates.

  • Become licensed by taking Practicing with Professionalism course, obtain salary expectations, network via Young Lawyers Division or nonprofits/legal assistance agencies. Meet eligibility criteria if foreign trained lawyer.

Pathway to Becoming a Lawyer in Colorado

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree is the first step in your journey to becoming a lawyer in Colorado. Colorado is home to several law schools, such as the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Denver, which offer ABA-accredited programs. After completing law school, the next crucial step is passing the Colorado Bar Exam, a two-day Uniform Bar Exam (UBE).

Various deadlines and admission requirements are part of the attorney admissions process, including limited licenses. The Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Admissions provides essential information and guidance for prospective lawyers, such as attorney registration. Being organized and well-informed can facilitate a smoother path to attorney licensure in Colorado.

Undergraduate Education for Aspiring Lawyers

Aspiring lawyers in Colorado need to complete a bachelor’s degree before applying to law school. However, the Colorado Supreme Court Board of Law Examiners does not require any specific pre-law major. This flexibility gives prospective lawyers the freedom to choose a major according to their interests and strengths.

Performing well academically and maintaining a strong GPA during undergraduate studies is crucial. This not only enhances your law school application but also prepares you for the rigor and discipline required in law school. In addition, students should familiarize themselves with the foundation courses required by the Colorado Supreme Court Office.

Colorado Law Schools

Colorado boasts two highly acclaimed law schools: the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Denver (Sturm). These institutions offer ABA-accredited programs for aspiring lawyers, providing a solid foundation for a successful legal career in Colorado.

Upon achieving a passing score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), prospective lawyers may submit their applications to these law schools. Remember that a strong application, including an impressive LSAT score, undergraduate GPA, and extracurricular activities, will significantly enhance your chances of gaining admission to your desired law school.

Preparing for the Colorado LSAT (Law School Admission Test)

The LSAT, a standardized assessment, measures aptitudes and competencies vital for success in law school and legal practice in Colorado. Administered four times annually, the LSAT provides multiple opportunities for aspiring lawyers to take the exam.

A strong LSAT score is a crucial component of your law school application. Dedicating significant time and effort to preparing for the LSAT is critical to ensure success. Utilize available resources, such as practice tests and study guides, to improve your understanding of the test’s format and content. With diligent preparation, you can achieve a competitive LSAT score and increase your chances of admission to a prestigious law school in Colorado.

Navigating Law School in Colorado

Law school in Colorado typically takes three years to complete, offering students a top-notch education in legal theory, doctrine, and societal context. The rigorous coursework includes classes in:

  • Contracts

  • Civil law and procedure

  • Criminal law and procedure

  • Writing

  • Real property

  • Torts

  • Constitutional law

In addition to coursework, law school provides numerous opportunities for students to gain practical experience and develop essential skills. Some of these opportunities include:

  • Internships

  • Externships

  • Appellate and trial competitions

  • Voluntary public service

Through these experiences, aspiring lawyers can enhance their legal knowledge while building a strong professional network to practice law in a temporary law practice setting.

Tackling the Colorado Bar Exam

The Colorado Bar Exam, also known as the bar examination, represents a significant milestone on your path to becoming a lawyer in the state. Administered over two days, the exam consists of the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), Multistate Essay Exam (MEE), and Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) sections. These sections assess applicants’ legal knowledge and skills, ensuring they are prepared for the challenges of practicing law in Colorado. As a prospective lawyer, it is crucial to be well-prepared for the July exam, which is a key component of the Colorado Bar.

Dedication, organization, and effective study strategies are required when preparing for the Colorado Bar Exam. Utilize the recommended resources available on the National Conference of Bar Examiners website to maximize your chances of success.

Application Process and Deadlines

Meeting specific requirements and deadlines is involved when applying for the Colorado Bar Exam. Here are some important details to keep in mind:

  • Applications open in September and for the February exam each year, with the first filing deadline being December 1st

  • Final filing deadlines are on December 1st and May 1st for the February and July exams, respectively

  • The application fee for the Colorado Bar Exam is $710.

Applicants must submit their application through the CiviCore Application Management System online. Be sure to review all necessary documentation and instructions on the Colorado Supreme Court website to ensure a smooth application process. Stay organized and adhere to the deadlines to avoid any last-minute issues or delays on motion.

Scoring and Passing Rates

The Colorado Bar Exam is assessed on a 400-point scale. A minimum score of 270 is required in order to pass. Pass rates vary, but first-time takers generally have higher success rates than repeaters. The July 2018 Colorado bar exam had a pass rate of 70 percent. This was higher than the rates seen in other states at the same time..

Comprehending the scoring system and focusing on areas requiring improvement can boost your chances of passing the exam. Create a study schedule that allows for ample review of the material, practice exams, and effective stress management techniques. With diligence and perseverance, you can achieve a passing score and move one step closer to becoming a licensed attorney in Colorado.

Becoming a Licensed Attorney in Colorado

New lawyers in Colorado, after passing the bar exam, must fulfill additional requirements to obtain a limited license and become fully licensed attorneys. These requirements include attending a Practicing with Professionalism course, which is mandatory for all new Colorado attorneys.

In addition to the Practicing with Professionalism course, new lawyers must also pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) with a score of 85 or higher. Completing these requirements, along with the successful completion of the Colorado Bar Exam, will pave the way for a fulfilling legal career in the state.

Salary Expectations for Lawyers in Colorado

The average base salary for lawyers in Colorado is approximately $99,050 per year. Bear in mind that salaries can fluctuate based on factors such as experience, location, and specialization.

Use resources like Indeed’s Salary Calculator to ensure fair compensation, which provides a personalized pay range based on your location, industry, and experience. Understanding the market and staying informed about salary trends can help you negotiate better compensation packages and advance your legal career in Colorado.

Opportunities for Career Growth and Networking

Colorado offers abundant networking and career growth opportunities for lawyers. One such opportunity is joining the Young Lawyers Division of the Colorado Bar Association, which assists new lawyers in establishing a solo practice or securing a position within an existing firm or company.

Volunteering with nonprofit organizations and legal assistance agencies provides additional opportunities for networking and career growth. Some of these organizations in Colorado include Colorado Legal Services, The Center for Trauma & Resilience, and Disability Law Colorado. By engaging with these organizations and building a strong professional network, you can create a solid foundation for a successful legal career in Colorado.

Special Considerations for Foreign-Trained Lawyers

Specific eligibility requirements must be met by foreign-trained lawyers seeking to practice in Colorado. These include:

  • Attending an accredited law school based on English common law

  • Potentially paying a fee for a determination of eligibility

  • The law degree obtained must be of a duration equivalent to JD programs accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).

In addition to these requirements, foreign-trained lawyers must also pass the Colorado Bar Exam and complete the same additional requirements as domestic graduates, such as attending the Practicing with Professionalism course and passing the MPRE. By meeting these criteria, foreign-trained lawyers can pursue a rewarding legal career in Colorado.


Becoming a lawyer in Colorado is a challenging and rewarding journey that requires dedication, hard work, and perseverance. From obtaining a bachelor’s degree and attending law school to passing the Colorado Bar Exam and completing additional requirements, aspiring lawyers must navigate a complex and demanding process.

Despite the challenges, the path to becoming a lawyer in Colorado offers numerous opportunities for growth, networking, and personal development. By staying informed, organized, and focused on your goals, you can overcome the obstacles and achieve a fulfilling and successful legal career in the Centennial State.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a lawyer in CO?

Completing law school typically takes three to four years, then one must pass the bar examination before applying for a license to practice law in Colorado.

How hard is the Colorado bar exam?

The Colorado Bar Examination is a very intensive and difficult 2-day Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) that assesses the knowledge of each student, consisting of three sections. Passing this exam is necessary in order to become a licensed lawyer in the state of Colorado.

What degree is needed for a lawyer?

To become a lawyer, it is necessary to earn a bachelor’s degree followed by a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from an accredited law school that is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). The degree typically takes about seven years of study to complete.

How do you qualify for the bar in Colorado?

In order to qualify for the bar in Colorado, you must pass the Colorado Uniform Bar Exam with a score of at least 276, meet the character and fitness requirements, and submit a complete application.

What is the average base salary for lawyers in Colorado?

The average base salary for lawyers in Colorado is $99,050 per annum, giving legal professionals the opportunity to earn a comfortable living.

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