There are three requirements to become a judge in Ohio: a Juris Doctor degree, passage of the Ohio Bar and appointment or election. The Supreme Court of Ohio--the highest state court and the court of last resort--is responsible for the administration of Ohio's judicial branch. There are also Courts of Appeals and municipal county courts.
Earn a law degree. In Ohio, a law degree, called a Juris Doctor, is required. It is received after the undergraduate degree and is a three-year course of study. American Bar Association-accredited law schools allow the bar exam to be taken in any state. Ohio does not have a policy that automatically allows graduates of an Ohio law school to be members of the Ohio State Bar.
Pass the Ohio Bar Exam. It is a multi-day test that ascertains mastery of Ohio law. Being admitted to practice law in Ohio is contingent upon both passing the bar exam and a background check. Ohio's bar exam consists of an essay portion specific to Ohio law and a multi-state portion containing multiple choice questions.
Apply for a clerkship with a judge. This is highly recommended, giving a first-hand view of a judge's duties on a daily basis. Ohio has clerkships at the local and state level, where they assist judges in research and drafting opinions.
Get appointed or elected. Either a state or local governing commission appoints judges, or they win a general election. While federal judges generally have lifetime appointments, state and local judges often have fixed terms renewable either by appointment or election. In Ohio, different counties and towns have different policies, although municipal court judges are elected to six-year terms on a nonpartisan judicial ballot.
Earn continuing education credits. Earned via certain coursework, these credits are necessary to maintain bar membership.
Things You Will Need
- Juris doctor degree
- Ohio law license
- Applicants to the Ohio bar exam will receive confirmation of their eligibility to sit for the exam approximately two weeks before. It is held twice annually, in February and July.
- Before you can take the exam, your application must satisfy all the pre-exam conditions. These include getting final character and fitness approval, and verification that you received a J.D. degree.
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