How to Become a Lawyer in North Dakota: Education Requirements and Law School Options

Are you considering a career as a lawyer in North Dakota? If you’re wondering how to become a lawyer in North Dakota, it’s important to know that becoming a lawyer is a rewarding endeavor, but it requires hard work, dedication, and a clear understanding of the education and licensing requirements. In this blog post, you’ll learn about the pathway to practicing law in North Dakota, including pre-law education, law school options, LSAT registration, the bar exam, and alternative legal careers. Let’s embark on this journey together and explore the steps to becoming a successful lawyer in North Dakota.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Pathway to Practicing Law in North Dakota: Obtain a bachelor’s degree, attend an accredited law school to earn JD and complete 45 hours of CLE every three years.

  • Preparing for the Bar Exam: Enroll in fee-based bar review courses administered by the North Dakota Board of Law Examiners. Take advantage of free study aids from NCBE.

  • Financial Aid & Scholarships for Law Students in ND: Various options available through UND School of Law, University of ND and external sources.

Pathway to Practicing Law in North Dakota

The journey to becoming a lawyer in North Dakota begins with obtaining a bachelor’s degree and then attending an accredited law school to earn a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. The University of North Dakota School of Law (UND) in Grand Forks provides an accredited JD program and adopts a “practice-ready” approach to legal education, which incorporates experiential learning opportunities in and out of the classroom.

To maintain a law license in North Dakota, attorneys must complete 45 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) every three years, with at least 3 hours dedicated to ethics. Next, we examine the pre-law education and law school process in North Dakota.

Pre-Law Education in North Dakota

Before attending law school, aspiring lawyers in North Dakota must obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited undergraduate institution. Although any major is acceptable, a blend of humanities and social science classes, such as philosophy, political science, and legal studies, can help cultivate critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills necessary for success in law school.

Attending Law School in North Dakota

After finishing your undergraduate degree, attending an American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited law school, such as UND School of Law, is the next step. Law school curricula typically include prescribed coursework in the first year, followed by internships and electives in the second and third years.

Practical experience in law schools may involve in-house legal clinics, off-campus law offices, government agencies, or nonprofit institutions.

The LSAT: Gateway to Law School Admission

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a standardized test used for law school admissions and is an essential component of your law school application. The LSAT measures your abilities in logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, and reading comprehension through a combination of four scored 35-minute sections, an unscored 35-minute section of experimental questions, and a 30-minute writing sample.

For effective LSAT preparation, make use of free study resources available on the LSAT website and ponder upon joining review programs, either online or in-person.

LSAT Registration and Test Dates

In North Dakota, the LSAT exam is only available in November, January, and March. To register for the test, you can either create an account on the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website or call 215.968.1001.

LSAT Scores and Law School Admissions

LSAT scores play a pivotal role in law school admissions, as they offer a reliable assessment of an applicant’s capabilities and are linked with law school grades and performance. Higher LSAT scores make applicants more competitive, as law schools typically maintain a range of scores that they accept.

The process to register for the LSAT is straightforward. Once an account is created on the LSAC website and the necessary information submitted, an email with instructions on scheduling your test date will be sent. In preparation for the LSAT, various resources such as:

  • online courses

  • books

  • practice tests

  • LSAT preparation courses provided by law schools

Can be beneficial, especially when you notice the right sign.

Navigating the North Dakota Bar Exam

After completing your JD degree, the next step in becoming a licensed attorney in North Dakota is to pass the bar exam. North Dakota requires the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). This exam consists of the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), two Multistate Performance Test (MPT) tasks, and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE). Additionally, North Dakota requires the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) as a prerequisite for bar admission.

North Dakota Bar Exam Subjects

The North Dakota Bar Exam tests subjects such as:

  • Constitutional Law

  • Contracts/Sales

  • Criminal Law/Procedure

  • Evidence

  • Real Property

  • Torts

  • Business Associations

  • Civil Procedure (Federal)

  • Agency and Partnership

Preparing for the Bar Exam

The North Dakota Bar Exam is a two-day examination administered by the North Dakota Board of Law Examiners. To prepare for the exam, the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) website offers valuable study aids for the following sections free of charge:

  • Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)

  • Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)

  • Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

  • Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)

Consider enrolling in fee-based bar review courses to further enhance your preparation.

Joining the State Bar Association of North Dakota

The State Bar Association of North Dakota, acting as the state board for lawyers, is a mandatory regulatory organization in the state, established in 1899. The association offers a broad spectrum of services, including dealing with matters concerning judicial qualifications, public information programs, and law-related education in the public school system.

Additionally, the North Dakota Bar Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of the association, managing the Interest on Lawyer Trust Account Program (IOLTA) and funding local initiatives that educate North Dakota citizens on the administration of justice.

Membership Requirements

Although specific membership requirements of the State Bar Association of North Dakota are not explicitly outlined, attorneys in North Dakota are required to complete 45 credits of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) every three years, including a minimum of three hours on ethics.

Networking and Professional Development Opportunities

Members of the State Bar Association of North Dakota can engage in networking and professional development through various social events organized by the association, such as networking receptions, seminars, and conferences. Opportunities for networking and professional development assist attorneys in establishing connections with fellow legal practitioners, obtaining insights into the profession, and keeping up-to-date with current advancements in law.

In addition, a variety of online resources such as legal blogs, online forums, and professional organizations provide additional opportunities for networking and professional development.

Job Market and Salary Expectations

The job market for lawyers in North Dakota is competitive, with opportunities available in regional firms, public service, judicial clerkships, and other employment sectors. On average, attorneys in North Dakota earn approximately $95,840 per year, with starting salaries at $59,310 and progressing up to $170,400. These salary figures are based on the 2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

North Dakota offers a variety of practice areas for lawyers, including:

  • Criminal law

  • Family law

  • Personal injury law

  • Real estate law

  • Corporate law

The state’s legal community is relatively close-knit, fostering an environment that encourages collaboration and growth. This environment, coupled with the resources and opportunities provided by the State Bar Association of North Dakota, makes practicing law in the state a rewarding experience.

If practicing law isn’t your desired path, there are alternative legal careers available in North Dakota. These careers provide the opportunity to gain experience in the legal field without the process of becoming a lawyer and may offer a more flexible work schedule and the possibility for greater remuneration than traditional legal positions.

Options for alternative legal careers in North Dakota include:

  • Conflict resolution or alternative dispute resolution

  • Non-credit law and legal career development courses

  • Online lawyer jobs

  • Employment in law firms

Resources and information regarding alternative legal careers in North Dakota can be found through the North Dakota Bar Association and the American Bar Association.

Financial Aid and Scholarships for Law Students in North Dakota

Numerous financial aid and scholarship opportunities are available for law students in North Dakota. These include:

  • Scholarships offered by UND School of Law

  • Academic scholarships and grants awarded by the University of North Dakota

  • The North Dakota State Grant

  • The North Dakota Academic and Career & Technical Education scholarships

Additionally, students may also investigate external scholarship opportunities specific to North Dakota.

The UND School of Law provides a range of scholarships for law students, inclusive of merit-based, need-based, and scholarships tailored for students with specific interests or backgrounds. The University of North Dakota also provides a range of academic scholarships and grants to law students, including the North Dakota State Grant, the North Dakota Academic and Career & Technical Education scholarships, and other grants and scholarships.

To make the most of available financial aid opportunities, investigate and apply for any external scholarships you are eligible for. Such scholarships may be provided by private organizations, foundations, among other sources.


In conclusion, becoming a lawyer in North Dakota requires a commitment to education and professional development. From obtaining a bachelor’s degree and attending law school to passing the LSAT and bar exam, each step is crucial in the journey to becoming a successful attorney. While the process is challenging, the rewards of a legal career in North Dakota are abundant, offering a range of practice areas, a close-knit legal community, and opportunities for growth and advancement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does North Dakota have a law school?

Yes, North Dakota has a law school – the University of North Dakota School of Law. The school is ABA-accredited and offers a high-quality legal education at an affordable price. It also offers specialized programs such as Law Accelerated (Bachelor’s/J.D.) and J.D./M.B.A.

What is the hardest state to become a lawyer?

California is the hardest state to become a lawyer, as it has the lowest bar exam pass rate of only 34%.

Is North Dakota a good law school?

Overall, UND Law has a slightly above average bar passage rate compared to the state of North Dakota, making it a good option for those interested in law school in the region.

What is the fastest time to become a lawyer?

The fastest way to become a lawyer is by enrolling in an accelerated JD program or 3+3 JD program, which can both take two years instead of three. Additionally, earning a Master of Legal Studies may allow you to graduate in 12 months, provided you already hold a bachelor’s degree and potentially have taken the GRE beforehand.

What makes you qualified to be a lawyer?

I am highly qualified to be a lawyer, as I have obtained a Juris Doctor degree and passed the state bar exam, and I possess excellent communication and research skills, a strong understanding of ethical standards, and the ability to think critically and work independently. Additionally, I have obtained any license or certificate required for certain practice areas.

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