Becoming a lawyer can lend you sense of security, as there will always be a need for lawyers. Whether you’re interested in family, business or any other aspect of the law you are sure to find your niche as a lawyer.
How To Become A Lawyer
Becoming a lawyer can be done in five steps. Including education, testing, clerkship/internships and passing the bar exam. Becoming a lawyer takes approximately six to seven years and can be quite costly.
Complete a Bachelors Degree
To apply for law school you must already have your bachelors degree. There are no requirements of what you have to major in but some law schools do prefer intellectually challenging majors.
Take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
The LSAT is administered by the Law School Admissions Counsel. The LSAT tests your comprehension, reading, critical thinking and reasoning skills. It is required to submit your LSAT scores with your application to law school.
Earn your Juris Doctor (J.D) Degree
Law school is generally around three years to complete. You will start out taking a wide range of law classes that encompass every aspect of law, then you can branch out and take electives in areas of the law that you wish to specialize in.
Participate in a Clerkship
Clerkships allow you to work for a law firm to gain experience while you’re still in school. Often times clerkships will lead to a job offer after you have completed your requirements for becoming a lawyer.
Pass your state bar exam
In order to practice law in the United States you must pass your states bar exam, if you wish to practice law in multiple states you must pass each states bar exam. The exam may entail both a written exam as well as an ethics exam.
The average cost just for law school is approximately $45,500 a year. If you finish in three years you will pay approximately $136,500 just for law school. This is not counting the cost of your undergraduate degree which is approximately $60,000- $70,000. Your total cost to become a lawyer is over $200,000.
Job Description / Responsibilities
Lawyers can specialize in a a single area of the law or practice a broad spectrum of the law. Lawyers act as both advocates and advisors. They advocate for a client in court or in legal proceedings, and they advise clients regarding case probability as well as regarding business, realty, criminal, civil or environmental laws.
- Advise and direct clients on legal transactions. This can range from criminal, or civil to mortgages and business contracts.
- Analyze all possible outcomes for all cases, then represent your clients in front of a judge and jury using your knowledge of the laws.
- Gather evidence, and evaluate the evidence to form a defense or initiate legal action on behalf of your client. This may involve interviewing witnesses, and the client.
- Prepare legal documents such as deeds, mortgages, wills, contracts, and leases. Then act as executor, agent, trustee of guardian of those documents if your client wishes.
- Help in selecting a jury, meet with judges, question witnesses, and argue motions during the course of a trial.
- Study the Constitution, laws/statues, prior cases and their outcomes , ordinances, regulations and know how they will effect the outcome of your case.
- Not all cases will go to court, you must be able to negotiate and mediate and draw up legally finding contracts that meets the expectations of what both parties agreed upon.
- Lawyers may also oversee the work of support staff such as paralegals, legal assistants and administrative staff.
- Family lawyers will handle anything family from divorce or custody to adoptions.
- Litigation lawyers handle disputes between parties, from business to personal injuries, they handle a wide range of legal disputes.
- Environmental lawyers work with waste management and government agencies to ensure they obey environmental laws.
- Tax lawyers do all things taxes they work for both individuals as well as companies assisting in identifying proper tax procedures for profits and loss.
- Legal aid lawyers work for nonprofit organizations and generally handle civil cases regarding wage disputes, job discrimination or leases for those who are disabled.
According to the bureau of labor services employment for Lawyers is expected to grow by at least six percent between 2014 and 2024.
Though the need for legal services will still be strong, there could be some changes in pricing as clients start demanding more affordable services. This could mean routine work that is currently Lawyer responsibility could be delegated to paralegals or legal assistants, as well a possibly be outsourced to other countries.
Lawyers may still primarily work in law offices, however businesses and corporations have caught on to hiring in house lawyers as a way to cut costs. This will lead to a need for Lawyers in a variety of new positions.
Competition for jobs as a lawyer is high and many graduates must rely on temporary staffing services to get the experience they need for a full time position. Remaining flexible and willing to relocate opens up more options for recent graduates and raises the chances of finding a reliable position.
Primarily lawyers work in an office or the courtroom. However, some layers must travel to hospitals, homes, prisons or other venues to meet with their clients. Approximately one in five lawyers are self employed. With most being employed by private practice offices or corporations.
Most lawyers are full time but work far more than a standard 40 hour work week. Some lawyers must stay late reviewing, and preparing information for their cases, some are even on call depending on their area of expertise.
Being a lawyer can be stressful, you will sometimes handle cases that are hard to deal with and some may even go against your personal beliefs. Lawyers must be prepared to not be everybody’s friend. You may have to work on a prosecuting case against dangerous criminals.
There are many useful resources for those who are lawyers or are interested in becoming a lawyer.
Bureau of Labor Services: The BLS website provides good all around information for new lawyers. From what to expect if you become a lawyer to job availability statistics, and median income it proves as a good source of information for those wanting to become a lawyer to see what the career will entail.
American Bar Association: The ABA is a voluntary association for lawyers and law students. The ABA provides unbiased information and unlimited resources to those in the legal field.
Lawyer Express: Lawyer Express is a website that is full of resources for lawyers, it features current news that covers many aspects of the legal profession as well as current legal cases around the world and links to other helpful sources.
Supreme Court: The Supreme Court website will keep you up to date on all current cases that are in process as well as recent cases which have been decided this is a good site to use for case studies.
NETR Online: NETR is a great source for property or environmental lawyers. It provides environmental data, public records and property/realty resources for the entire United States.
The American Lawyer: The American Lawyer is a daily magazine that covers legal business, law firms and lawyers around the world.
Justia: Justia is primarily a research site for law students, however it can prove to be useful for those who are already actively practicing law.
Federal Bar Association: The FBA is the Association for federal legal representatives. It keeps those who are active in federal law up to date on current happenings in the federal side of the law.
Findlaw: Findlaw is an invaluable source for anyone practicing law. It allows access to all the laws, legislations, and reference cases any lawyer will ever need.
Legal Information Institute: This website is ran by Cornell University Law School. The site is dedicated to providing free access to boundless law resources. From laws to Supreme Court cases they have you covered.
As with every other profession being a successful lawyer requires skills in communication, research, public speaking, reading comprehension, being able to ask appropriate questions, teamwork and organization. I’ll go over these skills and others below.
- Communication: You must be able to clearly communicate with your clients, judges, juries, witnesses, business men etc., no matter what role they play in your case it’s essential to be able to communicate with people from all walks of life.
- Debating/Persuasive speaking: As a lawyer you will be required to state why your stance in a case in the right one and be able to back it up confidently.
- Research: Lawyers often must do their own research, this could mean talking to witnesses, or reading up on laws or businesses you’ll be working with. No matter what area of law you go into, it is essential that you have solid research skills so you can confidently advocate for your clients.
- Reading Comprehension: Lawyers need to be able to read and understand laws, witness reports, and court orders and be able to understand how they pertain to and work for or against their client.
- Teamwork: Lawyers must be able to easily work with their support staff and their clients on their cases. At any given time yo could have several cases going at once and being able to delegate and communicate with those on your team is essential to keep everything running smoothly.
- Organization: It’s important to be organized. Most lawyers work on several cases at once, it’s essential that everything for each case be organized and accessible for whenever you may need it.
- Listening: Lawyers must be able to listen and comprehend what they are being told by their clients, witnesses, other lawyers, jurors and judges.
- Asking the Right Questions: lawyers must be able to look at a situation and ask the appropriate questions that will dig deeper into the case and help them understand with really happened or what is needed to make their case.
- Problem Solving: When people hire lawyers they are either looking to avoid a problem or they already have a problem that they need fixed. It’s the lawyers job to get to the bottom of the problem and fix it to the best of their skills.
- Being Inquisitive by Nature: Lawyers need to want to get to the bottom of s situation, dig deeper and find answers. Being inquisitive by nature this means you have that desire to delve deeper into situations.