What it Takes to Practice Law in Seattle Washington
If you are planning to practice law in Seattle, Washington, you should have a good grasp of the local state laws as well as the court system. With that in mind, here are some key facts about practicing law in Seattle, Washington:
Prerequisites to practicing law in Washington
To become one of Seattle attorneys, you must graduate from a recognized law school, pass the Washington State Bar Exam, and receive admission into the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA). Admission into the WSBA takes place every year in February and July. Lawyers with licenses to practice in other states can gain admission into the WSBA via Admission by Motion or limited practice as House Counsel. Qualified lawyers from foreign jurisdictions can also gain admission and limited licenses to practice law in Washington. Nevertheless, award of such licenses is subject to review by the WSBA.
The Basics of Seattle, Washington Laws
The legal system in Washington is hinged on a court system that consists of a Supreme Court, court of appeals, superior court, as well as district and municipal courts. The Supreme Court handles appeals originating from the court of appeals in a discretionary manner (chooses cases to or not to hear). The Court of Appeals handles criminal and civil case appeals originating from superior courts. On the other hand, Superior Courts deal with a wide range of civil and criminal cases committed within boundaries of a given county. Finally, the district and municipal courts have limited jurisdiction and deal with cases such as traffic violations, small claims suits, and misdemeanors.
With this in mind, the legal system in this state has a three strikes policy. This means a person who racks up a third conviction goes to prison for life. The power to commute such a conviction lies with the governor. On the drugs and alcohol front, consumers can legally buy and use marijuana for recreational or medical purposes. However, DUI offenders face some of the toughest laws in the US. These include .08% legal limit, license suspension even if there is no conviction, lengthy license suspension after conviction, stiff penalties for probation violations, and ignition interlock.
Another fact you should know is that couples who seek legal separation remain married, meaning none of the parties involved can remarry. On the emotive issue of gun control, Washington has passed laws governing universal background checks as well as keeping guns away from the hands of people with a history of domestic violence.
With some of the toughest DUI laws in the US, Seattle, WA, is a great place to practice law provided you pass the bar exam and join the WSBA.