How can one become a lawyer (immigration attorney) in New York?

There is a huge need for immigration attorneys right now both in New York and across the US. The great part is, with the exception of the particular state bar, the steps are not exclusive to any particular state.

The general process to becoming an attorney in the United States is:
Obtain a 4-year degree bachelor’s degree
Take the LSAT – which is the Law School Admissions Test
Earn a law degree from an American Bar Association (“ABA”) accredited law school
Apply for and take the state bar exam of your choice
Once you have passed a state bar, you will be eligible to apply to practice on the federal court level as well – which is necessary for most immigration lawyers

Most assume that law school requires a specific, traditional 3 year program. However, more and more often you can find 2 year accelerated programs, night or online programs, and even combined undergraduate and law school programs.

Some law schools offer courses or focuses in immigration law. Take as many courses in immigration as you can. If your school offers few or no courses, all is not lost. You will likely be required to complete internships during your studies – if possible, intern with a seasoned immigration attorney. Your school may also have an immigration law group. If they don’t, then start one.

Making connections and learning as much as you can about the immigration system will serve you just as well as your law degree and bar admission. Keep up with contacts and be open to all experience, even if it’s unpaid. Since an immigration attorney can work for the government, for a non-profit, and law firms, there are a number of areas to search when looking for open positions.

My biggest piece of advice is to keep an open mind and know that any experience is good experience. There is a blog answer that offers even more suggestions to becoming a lawyer – no matter what stage you are in the process.