How to Become a Lawyer

This article provides in-depth information into What is a Lawyer? What Lawyer do? Degrees for Lawyer, Steps to become Lawyer and much more.


What does a lawyer do?

A lawyer is a professional who is qualified to represent clients in legal issues as well as disputes, he advises his clients about the law. A lawyer is also called as an Attorney who acts as an advocate to represent his client in a civil or a criminal issue and an Advisor where he advises his clients about the rights and laws to solve their issues. 

They participate in a number of cases regarding the disputes for property, family law, corporate law, criminal law and others.

  • They conduct research on and collect suitable evidence to present at the hearings

  • Learn about the laws related to the case 

  • Communicate with the clients to and provide general advice 

  • Interact with colleagues, judge and others involved on the case on behalf of their clients

  • Prepare the rafts and file legal documents , wills, contracts.

Lawyer’s salary

In the United States, the average salary offered to a lawyer is $121,801 per year and it can vary from $58,649 to $252,953 depending  on the education, certification, skills and amount of experience they have.

Job growth

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment opportunities available for a lawyer is estimated to  be increased by 6 percent, i.e, 50,100 new jobs to be added during the period of 2018 to 2028. The current job openings available for the lawyers are 823,900 and expected to increase gradually.

Steps to become a lawyer

A lawyer's professional is a challenging one, hence the students interested in pursuing this career must start preparing from the early stage, here are some simple steps you should follow to become a lawyer,

Step 1- Earn a Bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree in any subject is the minimum education required for this profession. There is no particular field  to be chosen or recommended by the American Bar Association(ABA) for this program. But are required to keep a minimum GPA of 3.00 and above. Every field is eligible for pursuing the profession and for a student interested in property law can choose computer science, electrical engineering, biology, mathematics.

Step 2- Clear the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

Every student must clear the Law School Admission Test which is approved by the American Bar Association(ABA) while pursuing the undergraduate degree. The test includes sections with objective type questions to test the reasoning, logical thinking, comprehension, information management and augmentation. Your financial aid could also depend on your scores in LSAT.

Step 3- Earn the Law Degree

After getting the undergrad degree and clearing the LSAT, you now aim for the Juris Doctor(JD) law degree which is a three years program for a full-time study. This degree includes courses such as constitutional law, contracts, property law, civil procedure, and legal writing. Students can also choose areas to specialise such as tax, labor, corporate law. To take up the BAR exam, you must graduate from an accredited law school.

Step 4- Clear the BAR Exam

Finally lawyers take up the BAR exam to earn the license where the passing probability is 40 percent. It consists of two sections, first is completing the Multistate Bar Examination and second is a written exam that tests your knowledge on legal matters. In addition, there is a background, character , educational verification to obtain the license.

Step 5- Start your career with a job

You can get hired as a lawyer and as a fresher, you work as an associate and in teams. After a few years of experience, lawyers can become a partner at a firm or start practicing by himself by moving to the legal department. You can also continue your education at masters and doctoral level as some common degrees are, Master of Law (LLM) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Degrees available for the lawyers

The qualification of a lawyer takes certain amount of academic knowledge and it is required to get a degree to settle with a job, here are some degrees you can choose,

Bachelor's degree

The path to become a lawyer may be varied and you must start with the pre law program at the undergraduate level. You can start with the Bachelor's degree in any discipline which is the minimum educational requirement for the lawyer’s profession where the program is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Some areas considered by the student are philosophy, economics, political science, journalism, and math. Students are required to maintain their  GPA above 3.00 to have more chances to clear the LSAT.

Advanced law degree

After the undergrad degree, you can choose the advanced law degrees by clearing the LSAT  which is to test the abilities of the student. A Juris Doctor (JD) diploma is important for your career and then passing the BAR exam makes you be professional. The various advanced law programs you can choose are:

  • Juris Doctor (JD)

  • Master of Laws (LLM)

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Law (PhD)

  • Doctor of Jurisprudence (JSD)

  • Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) or Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD)

  • Doctor of Comparative Law (DCL)

Juris doctor degree

 The commonality among advanced law degrees is the Juris Doctor degree which is accredited by the ABA. This degree takes about three years to complete for a full time study program. The program provides a broad understanding to the students about the latest legal systems introduced and general courses to give a foundational understanding of the law and legal procedures.

Some concentrations offered by this program to interested students are in areas such as public law, advocacy, business law, appellate law, or international law.

The electives you can choose at the program are:

  • Intellectual property

  • Administrative law 

  • Legislation and regulation

  • Corporate practice

Masters of laws(LLM)

The Master of Laws (LLM)is a program designed for students to further advance their career and can be started after completing the JD degree. The program takes one year to be completed for a full timer but students can also choose this for part time and also concurrently work as an attorney. Usually lawyers choose this career to become judges,  lawyers, law professors, and government officials. This program offers 20 to 26 credit hours with flexible studies.

Doctoral degree

The doctoral degree is a program available for professionals who are interested in research and the career opportunities at this stage is very competitive. It is not surprising if the law school chose only one or two candidates each year. It is considered as the highest degree to earn in law and there are four options available. They are,

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Law

  • Doctor of Jurisprudence

  • Doctor of Juridical Science

  • Doctor of Comparative Law

Concentrations to be considered by a lawyer

Academic concentrations: The academic knowledge on the laws and procedures are gained by respective coursework along with the development of additional skills, the courses offered are, 

Juris Doctor degree:

In the three years program, the first two years concentrate on the electives and introduction to core skills whereas the third year concentrates on specialized topics. Some courses offered are,

Legal skills

The course introduces research, legal analysis, procedure, legal writing , negotiation, interviews the clients and improves on their oral skills.

Skills acquired:

  • Conduct the legal research to obtain information

  • Record and documentation of the clients bills, wills, and motions

  • Learn E-discovery

  • Learn Dispute resolution process

Contracts

Students are introduced with the basic laws and principles related to the contract, its terms , creation, termination and alteration.

Skills acquired:

  • Investigate background of the contracts, trusts and terms

  • Creation of contracts and its acceptance

  • Solving issues against the contracts

Civil procedures

This is a course offered at the first year of the program which deals with the study of trial litigation, discovering the law procedures, jurisdictional rules and commencement of law through final judgement with classes and assignments.

Skills acquired:

  • Understand the civil law procedures

  • Rules of the civil proceedings

  • Here the final verdict by the court with suitable procedures

  • Process civil transaction

Constitutional law

This course focuses on the constitutional laws of  the government, its history and the basis of the U.S. Constitution and the structure of the legal system.

Skills acquired:

  • Understand the Constitutional amendments and the Constitutional interpretation.

  • Interpret the constitution and apply it to modern day law

  • Understand the national and state power and legal systems

Torts

This course offered in the first year involves the examination of the civil liabilities,  issues regarding legal compensation such as medical malpractice and tort reforms.

  • Understand the civil liabilities

  • Know the legal rules in tort area of practice

  • Determine the compensation for the harm caused intentionally or unintentionally

Career concentrations for a lawyer

A lawyer degree program consists of  the five common carrier concentrations that you can choose according to your interest to specialise in,

Business Law:

The business law or the consumer law that regulates the modern economy. Students pursuing the business law concentration study the business transactions and components of business with private and public law, civil law. The fields can be federal income taxation, mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy, financial accounting, capital markets, and corporate finance. 

The job opportunity can be as a bankruptcy lawyer,business lawyer, corporate lawyer.

Intellectual Property Law:

This field is a rapidly growing speciality where the intellectual property law is concerned with the trademarks, patents, and copyrights. It may also include the study of trademarks, patents, and copyrights. The job opportunities may include the Paralegals, Private practice lawyer, Property lawyer.

Criminal Law:

The law is related to the crime and the criminal defense lawyer is responsible to represent on behalf of their clients who are accused of committing the crime. This also includes the study of theory of criminal law, the curriculum also introduces students to criminal procedures, evidence, national security law, white-collar crime, and trial practice. Jobs such as government lawyer, trial lawyer come under this law.

Environmental Law

The environmental law educates on the practices the legal procedures that provide protection to the environment. It deals with the  Clean Water Act to the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act that influences the saving of natural resources, forests, and water. This curriculum also includes the study of  land use controls, agricultural law, international environmental law, mediation, and water rights law. Job opportunities include the environment lawyer.

Entertainment and Media Law:

The entertainment law refers to the law practices with  the music, films, and other fields in the creative industry. These law principles may also collaborate with the intellectual property law that deals with the contract, negotiation, mediation. You could also explore the fields within this concentration such as copyright law, motion picture distribution, digital media, television law, and trademark law.

Stand out skills required for a lawyer

With the wide range of academic skills, a lawyer must also possess some key skills to achieve a successful career. Here are some key skills listed below,

Analytical thinking: As a lawyer you must carefully analyse the situations narrated by the clients and determine relevant facts  and collect information, analyse the facts and evidence to be produced to the court to solve the client’s problem effectively. They must think logically at the situation on how the laws can be applied.

Patience: Lawyer must be patient enough to receive the success and failures equally where the profession is a wheel of ups and downs. They must be patient to collect information and solve the issues of their clients easily.

Written and verbal communication: communication is a key in this profession, they must record large amounts of information collected and effectively communicate with the clients, judge and their colleagues. Some cases may totally depend on writing or speaking and hence they must be excellent and confident in their communication.

Technical skills: As a lawyer, you must be technically sound and up to date with the technologies and softwares to conduct research and store data as documentation. The software systems can  be used to manage the files and bill clients which makes the job easier compared to paper work.

Good listener: The legal professional must be a good listener to interact well with the clients, they must pay attention to detail and be a questionnaire to analyse and collect suitable data. They must effectively listen to the issues or the disputes to understand the situation and solve them accordingly.

Lawyer Salaries

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