Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree
Obtaining a 4-year bachelor's degree is the first step you'll need to take to become an immigration lawyer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recommends a multidisciplinary undergraduate education with an emphasis on classes related to communication, research and logic skills (www.bls.gov). Fluency in one or more foreign languages combined with a good understanding of other cultures and of world politics can be vital to an immigration lawyer. For this reason, you might consider majoring or minoring in cultural studies or modern languages in addition to taking courses directly related to pre-law.
Step 2: Graduate from Law School
Next, you must obtain a doctorate degree from an American Bar Association-accredited law school. A high score on your Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and top grades will help you to gain admission into a 3-year law program. You'll take courses covering several subjects for the first year and a half, and will learn how to analyze cases while also studying legal reasoning and constitutional law. At this point you'll declare a concentration in immigration law and take specific courses in that subject.
Step 3: Pass the Bar Exam
You'll need to pass the bar exam to obtain licensure in the state where you intend to practice immigration law. According to the BLS, most states give a 6-hour Multistate Bar Examination, which tests you on several areas of law. A multistate essay exam, an ethics exam and a multistate performance exam may also be required.
Step 4: Join an Immigration Lawyer Association
There is no set path to becoming an immigration lawyer, but there are some resources you can utilize to help you on your journey. You can familiarize yourself with the immigration law community, network with professionals and search fora job by joining the American Immigration Lawyer Association (www.aila.org). By joining your local chapter, you could potentially be put in contact with prospective clients as well as getting to know others working in your field.
More In: http://learn.org/articles/Immigration_Law_5_Steps_to_Becoming_an_Immigration_Lawyer.html
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Here are a couple of practices that have helped me in my path towards running my own small Immigration law firm.
1. Develop a love of reading and languages. Make an effort to speak in a foreign language and learn about other cultures.
2. Take writing, history, philosophy, logic, etc. courses in college. A background in analytical thinking and strong communication skills are really important for getting into law school and practicing law.
3. During college and/or law school, intern or volunteer with an Immigrant legal service organization.
4. When you do start practice, work as an associate in an established Immigration law firm if possible, to really learn this complicated area of law before you venture out on your own. The risk of potential harm to a client is so great in Immigration law, that you really want to be somewhat experienced and know how to research each issue before you try it on your own.
5. Don't do it just for the money. This area of practice has a lot of ethical challenges. You want to help people and earn case fees, but you cannot assist anyone in committing fraud. Because of this, and because the law is so harsh, if you are ethical, you might end up turning away as many cases as you take in.
I am an immigration lawyer. Daniela provided a great response to your question. To add to that, I'd like to share with you how I became an immigration lawyer. Law school requires critical thinking, analysis, and reading comprehension skills so I took courses in college that I believed would help me improve these skills. There are also some colleges that provide pre-law courses that can help you improve these skills. Law school admissions will look at primarily your LSAT scores, your undergraduate grades, and your extracurricular activities. I studied hard in college, served in leadership positions in various extracurricular activities, and prepared for the LSAT by enrolling in an LSAT prep course. When I was preparing my undergraduate and law school applications, I had several peers and mentors review and critique my applications.
Once you get into law school, you will find that it is different from undergraduate. Law schools generally have one exam per course which you will take at the end of the semester and the exam score will generally be your final grade for the entire course. So the exam is the most important aspect of each course. The law school exams are also different from undergraduate exams. For the typical law school exam, you will be expected to analyze several legal issues. While I was in law school, I enrolled in an immigration legal clinical course that allowed me to represent immigrants under the supervision of a law professor. I also worked as a law clerk for an immigration firm. In addition, I volunteered at immigration workshops for non-profit organizations where I helped immigrants prepare their immigration applications under the supervision of attorneys. I found that after law school, when you are job searching, prospective employers generally want you to have some previous immigration law experience.
After law school, I prepared for the bar exam. I took a bar exam prep course and studied hard to prepare for it. The bar exam is slightly different from the typical law school exam so the bar prep course helped me properly prepare for it. The bar exam results took a few months before coming out so I worked as a law clerk for an immigration firm while I was waiting for the results.
The firm that I clerked for eventually hired me as an immigration attorney. Once I became a lawyer, I joined the American Immigration Lawyers Association and my local bar association. This has been a rewarding experience for me and I love being able to help immigrants. I hope this information is helpful to you! Good luck and study hard!
I agree with Ms. Silva completely. I would also suggest that you contact some Immigration lawyers near where you live so you can visit their offices and receive some real word advice and/or mentoring as you follow you plan.