How to Become a Lawyer
Lawyers work as representatives for individuals, companies, and governments to assist them with their legal needs. A lawyer might defend or prosecute a criminal in court, prepare a will, or negotiate a property settlement. The duties of a lawyer are varied, and offer a wide range of opportunities for those who decide to pursue it.
To become a lawyer, you'll of course need to enjoy law. Whether you enjoy following current cases in court, like to learn about different areas of the law, or perhaps just enjoy watching Law and Order, interest and passion in the subject area is a good start.
A lot of study is involved in becoming a lawyer, so you will need to be strong academically and be able to achieve good grades. This is another reason why you need to feel strongly about the law to succeed, there are are a lot of late nights reading text books and completing assignments ahead of you.
Education Requirements to Become a Lawyer
The educational path to become a lawyer takes about seven years to complete. The first step is to complete a four year bachelor's degree. You do not need a particular major to study law, however those that study criminal justice, English, business, and the humanities will be highly regarded. Your GPA will have a greater effect on whether you are accepted into law school.
Some colleges offer pre-law streams for undergraduates, so if you are certain of your career from a young age, then this might be the right choice for you. Completing some work experience in a law firm while you are at college, or even in high school, can also help in attaining a place at law school.
After you have finished your undergraduate degree, you'll need to apply to and be accepted into law school. It takes three years to complete. The next step is to pass the bar exam in your state, which will allow you to practice law.
Lawyer Job Description
The job description of a lawyer is twofold. They must work as advocate and advisor. As advisor, they provide legal advice. This could be as simple as drawing up a will, or as complex as advising a client on how to plea against charges in a court. The second role of the lawyer is as an advocate. In this scenario they must speak and argue on their clients behalf, in a mediation or courtroom setting.
There is a lot of research involved working as a lawyer. Firstly, they have a very strong understanding of the specialized area of law in which they work, as well as a well rounded understanding of other areas of law. Here are some of the tasks of a lawyer:
- Meeting with clients to discuss their needs
- Negotiating with other parties
- Preparing cases
- Conducting research
- Appearing in court
- Appearing at a mediation
- Interviewing witnesses
Most Lawyers will work in a specialized field of law. Some areas of expertise include:
- Criminal Law: Defending accused criminals in the court system
- Civil Law: Civil matters including family law
- Real Estate Law: Negotiating property settlement and transfer
- Patent Law: Copyright and ownership of products and ideas
- Labor Law: Disputes between companies, unions, and employees
- International Law: treaties and agreements between nations
- Corporate Law: Laws regarding companies, business, and industry
Lawyer Salary and Career Path
Many law students are able to secure jobs with firms before graduation. Law firms will send scouts out to schools to find the top performers and recruit them. Often law students get full time jobs from internships they did while studying. Good grades, as well as publishing papers in your schools law journal will improve your chances of getting a job.
Most lawyers will start out in a firm as a junior associate. With time they may move on to become an associate, and then a partner. Some lawyers become judges later in their careers. Some work as public defenders, or district attorneys. Some will work as law clerks or researchers.
Below are some other careers similar to a Lawyer that may interest you:
The median salary for a lawyer is $95,000 a year. Starting out in a law firm, you could expect to earn closer to $50,000 a year. The top lawyers earn salaries well over six figures.
If you enjoy study and research, like working closely with a range of people, put up a good argument, and love a challenge, then you should consider becoming a lawyer. While there is a lot of education involved to become a lawyer, the role is challenging as well as enjoyable. Good employment prospects and a great salary are always available for top candidates.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics