How to Become a Lawyer in Michigan: Education Requirements & Top Law Schools

Embarking on a legal career in Michigan can be both rewarding and challenging. The path to becoming a lawyer involves rigorous education, specialized training, and a dedication to professional development. Are you prepared to dive into the world of law and make your mark in the legal landscape of Michigan? Let’s explore the steps you’ll need to take, from undergraduate studies to bar exam success, on how to become a lawyer in Michigan and launch your legal career in the Great Lakes State.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Becoming a Michigan attorney requires completing an undergraduate degree, taking the LSAT and attending an ABA-approved law school.

  • Research carefully when choosing a law school in Michigan to ensure success.

  • To launch your legal career, stay informed on job market outlooks, salary expectations and specialize your practice for better opportunities.

Path to Becoming a Michigan Attorney

The journey to becoming a lawyer in Michigan begins with a solid foundation in undergraduate education. A minimum of two years of undergraduate school (60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours) is required prior to applying to law school. However, most American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited law schools require a bachelor’s degree for admission. Your undergraduate education serves as the bedrock, furnishing you with the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to excel in law school and your subsequent career.

Aspiring lawyers need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) as a stepping stone towards a successful legal career. This standardized test evaluates applicants’ aptitude for legal study and is a significant benchmark for law school admissions.

After conquering the LSAT, it’s time to choose a reputable law school in Michigan. The Board ensures a better future in the legal profession by considering law schools that hold either full or provisional ABA approval. This applies to when someone receives their J.D. degree.

Undergraduate Pre-Law Education

Choosing the right major during your undergraduate studies is pivotal in gearing up for law school. While there is no specific major required to enter law school, it is recommended that students choose their majors from a broad range of curricula areas. This diverse educational background will not only provide a well-rounded knowledge base but also sharpen critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are essential for law school success.

Although prestigious law schools like Harvard are not located in Michigan, obtaining a high-quality undergraduate education can still pave the way for a successful legal career in the state. Outstanding performance in your undergraduate studies and a demonstrated passion for learning will position you favorably in the eyes of law school admissions committees.

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

Most law schools mandate the LSAT as a prerequisite for admission. Composed of multiple-choice questions, the LSAT evaluates reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning abilities. The examination is conducted in two parts, each containing several 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions.

To ensure success on the LSAT, it is recommended to study regularly, take practice tests, and become familiar with the test format. Moreover, getting sufficient rest the night before the test and arriving punctually to the testing center will help you stay focused and calm during the exam. The importance of your LSAT score in determining your law school admission prospects underscores the need for diligent preparation.

Choosing a Law School

Selecting the right law school is a critical decision that will shape your legal career. When evaluating law schools in Michigan, consider factors such as admission requirements, tuition and fees, reputation, and job placement rate. Some of the most highly regarded law schools in Michigan include the University of Michigan Law School, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Michigan State University College of Law, and Wayne State University School of Law.

When considering your options, it is important to investigate each school’s distinctive offerings and strengths. Consider visiting campus, attending events, and networking with current students and alumni to gain valuable insights into the school’s culture and the quality of education you can expect.

The right law school will not only provide you with an excellent legal education but also support your professional growth and development.

Top Law Schools in Michigan

Michigan is home to several top-tier law schools, each offering a distinctive educational experience. When considering your options, it’s important to look beyond the US News rankings and focus on factors such as location, tuition, school size, and test scores. Some of the premier law schools in Michigan include the University of Michigan Law School, WMU-Cooley Law School, and Michigan State University College of Law.

Choosing a law school that mirrors your personal and professional aspirations will position you to thrive in your legal studies and leave a mark on the legal profession. In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at three of Michigan’s top law schools, highlighting their unique offerings and strengths.

University of Michigan Law School

Established in 1859, the University of Michigan Law School is renowned as one of the oldest and most prestigious law schools in the United States. The law school offers a broad selection of programs and courses, and its faculty consists of eminent scholars and practitioners in their respective areas. The University of Michigan Law School is committed to providing students with a well-rounded legal education that balances theory with practical application.

The Better Know a Professor video series is a unique feature of the school, showcasing Michigan Law faculty members discussing their teaching style, areas of legal expertise, and the importance of student-teacher relationships. This innovative approach to learning allows students to gain valuable insights into the minds of their professors, further enhancing their educational experience.

WMU-Cooley Law School

WMU-Cooley Law School is renowned for its dynamic and hands-on learning environment. Professors at WMU-Cooley employ teaching methods that have been demonstrated to be effective in aiding law students in their long-term learning and retention. The school offers part-time and full-time admission, as well as weekend and accelerated programs, providing students with flexibility in scheduling.

Year-round classes and multiple campuses further enhance the flexibility offered by WMU-Cooley Law School. By focusing on experiential learning and providing tailored scheduling options, WMU-Cooley ensures that students are well-prepared to meet the challenges of the legal profession upon graduation.

Michigan State University College of Law

Michigan State University College of Law, located in East Lansing, Michigan, is a public law school that focuses on providing students with practical skills and knowledge to prepare them for the legal profession. The law school is accredited by the American Bar Association and offers an extensive selection of courses, including:

  • Civil procedure

  • Constitutional law

  • Criminal law

  • And more

The emphasis on practical skills and diverse course offerings at Michigan State University College of Law enables students to:

  • Develop a strong foundation in their chosen field of law

  • Foster a learning environment that cultivates expertise and real-world experience

  • Prepare graduates for successful legal careers in Michigan and beyond.

Navigating the Michigan Bar Exam

Passing the Michigan Bar Exam is a critical milestone on the path to becoming a lawyer in the state. The bar exam is a two-day examination that tests your knowledge of both state and federal law. The overall pass rate for the February 2018 Michigan bar exam was 56%, with 69% for first-time test-takers. To qualify for the Michigan Bar Exam, you must hold a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.

Candidates must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) with a score of 85 or higher to qualify for taking the bar exam. This test can be taken before, during, or after attending law school. In the following sections, we’ll guide you through the Michigan Bar Exam’s content, registration process, and preparation tips to help you conquer this challenging examination.

Exam Content and Format

The Michigan Bar Exam encompasses two written sections (MEE/MPT) that evaluate an examiner’s capability to analyze legal matters. The exam covers seven subjects:

  • Constitutional Law

  • Contracts/Sales

  • Criminal Law/Procedure

  • Evidence

  • Real Property

  • Torts

  • Civil Procedure

The first day of the exam involves fifteen essay questions on a range of state law topics, while the second day entails the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a 200-question multiple-choice test.

Familiarizing yourself with the exam content and format is crucial for success on the Michigan Bar Exam. Concentrating your study efforts on the key subjects and gaining a solid understanding of the exam structure will enhance your readiness to showcase your legal knowledge and proficiency.

Registration Process

To register for the Michigan Bar Exam, you must complete and submit an application electronically. The application requires supporting documentation, and deadlines for submission are November 1st and December 15th. The bar exam is administered bi-annually, providing candidates with two opportunities per year to attempt the examination.

For further information about the Michigan Bar Exam, visit the Michigan Bar Association website at Keeping abreast of registration requirements and deadlines will streamline your application process and boost your chances of acing the exam.

Tips for Success

Preparing for the Michigan Bar Exam can be a daunting task, but with the right strategies and mindset, you can achieve success. To commit the law to memory, review the pertinent legal regulations and concepts, and practice verbalizing them. Engage in regular essay writing practice and time yourself to increase your writing speed and precision.

To become acquainted with the format and content of the multiple-choice section, obtain released MBE questions. Prioritize the most pertinent topics and employ effective study methods to optimize your chances of success. Lastly, remember to take care of your physical and mental health, cultivating a healthy attitude while preparing for the examination.

Once you’ve successfully completed your legal education and passed the Michigan Bar Exam, it’s time to embark on your professional journey as a licensed attorney in the state. Licensed attorneys in Michigan have a myriad of career opportunities, including:

  • Private practice

  • Serving as legal counsel for companies

  • Working as in-house counsel

  • Joining legal service agencies

  • Local and state government positions

As you kick off your legal career in Michigan, staying updated on the job market outlook, salary expectations, networking and professional development opportunities, and specialization options is crucial. In the following sections, we’ll provide you with valuable insights and resources to help you navigate the exciting world of law in Michigan.

Job Market Outlook

The job market outlook for lawyers in Michigan is projected to grow at a rate of 0.14% per annum from 2018-2028, which is considered low growth. In 2018, it was estimated that there were approximately 18,750 lawyers employed in Michigan. As the legal field continues to evolve, workers in the industry are likely to be increasingly engaged with artificial intelligence and automated services, transitioning to advisory roles rather than document review.

Companies are looking for cheaper solutions, as external counsel can be expensive. Therefore, they are more likely to rely on their in-house legal staff instead of relying solely on outside law firm partnerships. Keeping updated about job market trends and maintaining flexibility will enhance your ability to capitalize on emerging opportunities in the legal sector.

Salary Expectations

The average salary for a lawyer in Michigan is $122,908 per annum, with the annual mean salary being $127,030. The highest salary for a lawyer in Michigan is $169,386 per annum, while the lowest is $92,181 per annum. Additional pay for a lawyer in Michigan is estimated to be $12,621 per annum. Salaries for attorneys can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and area of practice.

Cities in the vicinity of Michigan that offer the most lucrative salaries for attorneys include:

  • Bloomfield Hills

  • Detroit

  • Grand Rapids

  • Southfield

  • Ann Arbor

  • Lansing

  • Farmington Hills

  • Kalamazoo

  • Troy

To ascertain whether you are being paid equitably, utilize Indeed’s Salary Calculator, which provides a personalized pay range based on location, industry, and experience.

Networking and Professional Development

Networking and professional development are essential components of a successful legal career in Michigan. By connecting with fellow attorneys and participating in professional events, you can expand your network and gain valuable insights into the legal landscape. Some of the organizations in Michigan that offer pro bono legal services include:

  • Legal Services of Northern Michigan

  • Pro Bono Initiative of the State Bar of Michigan

  • Counsel and Advocacy Law Line

  • Lakeshore Legal Aid

  • Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan

These organizations work hard to ensure members of the public have access to basic legal rights.

The most advantageous methods of networking for lawyers in Michigan include:

  • Joining relevant associations and special-interest bars

  • Utilizing online attorney networking sites

  • Taking advantage of networking opportunities available in law school

  • Engaging in online networking

  • Cultivating relationships with colleagues and business contacts

Maintaining connections and actively pursuing professional development opportunities will equip you to adeptly navigate Michigan’s dynamic legal landscape.

Specializing Your Practice

Specializing your legal practice in Michigan entails focusing on a particular area of law, such as criminal law, family law, or corporate law. This enables you to become an expert in your chosen field and provide more specialized services to your clients. Some advantages of specializing your practice include mastery and equilibrium in the chosen area of specialization, increased face-to-face interaction with clients, and potential for higher demand and marketability.

To specialize your practice, follow these steps:

  1. Examine the area of law in question.

  2. Participate in courses and seminars to increase your knowledge.

  3. Connect with other lawyers in the field.

  4. Remain informed of any alterations in the law.

  5. Be cognizant of any new regulations or laws that may influence your practice.

Refining your expertise in a specific area of law will enable you to serve your clients more effectively and stand out in the competitive legal market.


Becoming a lawyer in Michigan is a challenging and rewarding journey that requires dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to lifelong learning. From obtaining a solid undergraduate education to excelling in law school and passing the Michigan Bar Exam, each step of the process is crucial in shaping your future legal career.

As you embark on your legal journey in Michigan, remember to stay informed about the job market outlook, salary expectations, networking and professional development opportunities, and options for specializing your practice. By staying informed and adaptable, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the ever-evolving legal landscape and make a lasting impact in the Great Lakes State.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get a law degree in Michigan?

It typically takes three years to complete a JD (Juris Doctor) at the Michigan State University College of Law, although some students may be able to accelerate their studies by taking courses during summer semesters.

How many years of college do you need to be a lawyer in Michigan?

In order to become a lawyer in Michigan, you need seven years of post-high school education: four years for a bachelor’s degree and three years for a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.

Is 30 too late to become a lawyer?

While there is no age that is too old for law school, it is less common to attend after the age of 30. It is still possible, however, with careful consideration of the challenges it may present.

What is the purpose of the LSAT?

The LSAT is a standardized test designed to assess applicants’ aptitude for legal studies, and is a major factor in determining law school admissions.

What factors should I consider when choosing a law school in Michigan?

When choosing a law school in Michigan, be sure to consider admission requirements, tuition and fees, reputation, and job placement rate.

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