How to Become a Lawyer

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Lawyers can do almost anything, from working in corporations, defending clients in court, helping inventors with patents, or fighting for the environment. The steps needed to become a lawyer vary by state; while most states require four years of college, three years of law school, and a passing score on a bar exam, some states accept alternatives to the education requirements[1]



Wikimedia Commons:Tburgess68
Education Typically requires a graduate degree (J.D.)
Starting pay $52,091[2]
Median pay $112,760[3]
10 yr growth Average[3]
Related professions Judge, paralegal, tax attorney
Author Susan MacDowell
 

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Contents

Lawyer Job Overview

Lawyers are involved in almost all areas of life. Lawyers work on big issues, like drafting laws in government, working on mergers and acquisitions for companies, and helping inventors file patents and defend trademarks. They work on everyday issues such as writing wills and drafting real estate agreements. They prosecute and defend criminals. Lawyers provide counsel, strategize, problem-solve, write, advocate, and negotiate, using their education and intelligence for the benefit of their clients.

Lawyer Education

While many schools have a "pre-law" major, it is not required. Any solid undergraduate degree will prepare a student for law school, but students should select courses and extracurricular activities that prepare them to write clearly and logically, critically analyze problems, clearly articulate a position on an issue, and work well with a variety of people.

Aspiring attorneys should take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) during the summer after their junior year of college.[4] Law school application procedures vary by school, but most require a school specific application, a personal essay, and several letters of recommendation in addition to the LSAT scores.

Some states do permit individuals who have not gone to law school to be licensed to practice law as long as they pass the bar exam.

Lawyer Training

Most law students work as interns at a law firm during the summers after their first and second years of law school. These jobs give them experience in the legal field, as well as give them familiarity with a specific firm.

After graduation, in order to be licensed to practice, new lawyers must pass the bar exam in their state, as well as demonstrate their character and fitness to be attorneys.[5]

Most law firms have training programs for their associates which help them progress in their field. Some also sponsor bar review courses, which help prepare employees for the exam.

Justice Kagan on Becoming a Lawyer

C-Span interview with Justice ELena Kagan

Also See: How to Become a Judge, How to Become a Financial Planner, How to Become an Entertainment Lawyer, How to Become a Corporate Lawyer

References

  1. http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/Pamphlets/BecomingALawyer.aspx#2
  2. http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Attorney_%2f_Lawyer_%28Corporate%2c_in-house%29/Salary
  3. 3.0 3.1 http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm
  4. http://www.lsac.org/jd/help/faqs-lsat
  5. http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/bar_admissions/basic_overview.html