What must I do to be admitted to practice?
It depends on the state, and you can find a list of boards of law examiners and state-by-state rules from the ABA Section on Legal Education & Admission to the Bar's Annual Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission.
But really -- what do I have to do?
Bar Review: Bar Reviews are commercial services that instruct their customers on substantive law and test-taking techniques. Study options expand with advances in technology, and there are live, video, audio cassette, podcast, and book-only options. Although BarBri and PMBR are the dominant vendors, there are others in jurisdictions outside of Minnesota. Bar review is expensive, but most people consider it an investment.
Register with the State's Bar Examiners Some states require a registration that is different from signing up to take the bar exam, so check the rules. There is a charge for this process. Minnesota does not require pre-registration.
Apply (and pay the fee) to take the bar exam The application will be long and detailed. You will be asked a series of questions addressing 10+ years of residence, academic, credit and criminal history, and you may be required to produce documents relating to litigation. Get right with your creditors and pay your taxes. Consider each question and respond in the spirit of fullest disclosure. A significant fee will accompany your application.
Apply for a character and fitness review. The character and fitness review may be part of the bar application or, as in the case of California, it may be a separate process with its own significant fee.
Bar Admission Fees Once you have passed the bar exam and the character and fitness review, you will be charged a fee for your license to practice. In some states, the fee increases over time; in others it remains static.
Bar Associations Some state require that licensed attorneys be part of state bar associations (mandatory bars); others have voluntary bar associations. Bar associations often have affiliates that create and sell Continuing Legal Education courses which you will need to do to maintain your license in most -- but not yet all -- states.