Are you interested in a career as a lawyer?
This is a great job for anyone who has a strong moral compass and excellent communication skills. Working as a lawyer gives you the chance to seek and obtain justice for clients from all walks of life.
While being a lawyer can be rewarding, it takes several years to become qualified and pass the bar exam. You need to be prepared to put in long hours and dedicate a lot of time to researching cases.
So, let’s take an in-depth look at how to become a lawyer and learn more about what this job involves.
Typical Duties And Responsibilities
Your daily duties will vary according to the type of lawyer you decide to be and your specialization. The size of the firm your work for will also have an impact on your litigation duties. Here are the main duties and responsibilities that typically go with this role.
Consulting with clients
A new case starts with meeting clients and determining their needs. Listen to the client carefully and advise them of their legal options. You will then create a strategy with the client to make sure their needs are met. You need to get as much information about the case as possible from the client before moving forward.
Conducting pre-trial activities
Once you have accepted a case, you will start to prepare for the trial. This stage involves doing research into case history, collecting evidence, and arranging for expert depositions. You will also spend time examining evidence and interviewing potential witnesses to determine their suitability.
Representing clients in trials
If the case has not reached a settlement before the trial date, you will represent your client in court. It is necessary to have a strong trial strategy and know-how to represent your client in the best way possible. This includes creating strong opening and closing statements, cross-examining witnesses and experts, and arguing motions.
This job requires a range of both academic and interpersonal skills. While you will develop academic skills through your education and training, interpersonal skills also need to be developed. Here is an overview of the main skills and attributes that a successful lawyer should possess.
You need to be able to work with a range of software systems to do this job. Use a special case management system to bill clients and manage files. You will regularly use different types of software to prepare documents and communicate with clients.
Listening and comprehension
You need to be able to listen carefully to your clients to determine their needs and the details of the case. It is important to be able to extract the facts of the case, even when people are being evasive. This includes focusing on the most important details and understanding how they relate to the case.
Emotions often run high in legal cases, and you need to be able to keep calm at all times. It can take several months or even longer for a case to come to trial. You need to be able to remain focused and help your client to stay calm and engaged.
This skill is essential if you are planning to establish a private practice. You will need to know how to sign and bill clients as well as how to process payments. You will also need to know how to choose your clients and market your business. These skills are also useful for attorneys as they help professionals of all types to work more effectively.
Written and verbal communication
You need to be able to explain the case clearly and as simply as possible. Be able to speak with conviction and convince the judge and other parties that you are right. You also need to have strong written communication skills and be able to create complex legal documents.
Once you are certain of the facts of the case, you have to be able to apply them to the law. This involves looking at the situation from every possible angle and determining which rules apply. It takes logic and critical thinking to find fault with the arguments of the other party.
How To Become A Lawyer?
It takes several years and a look of focus and drive to become qualified to practice law. While you are still in high school, you need to get good grades in subjects like English, math, and science. Here are the main steps you should take on your path to becoming a lawyer.
Complete a bachelor’s degree program
This is the first step to becoming qualified to practice law. There is a wide range of different bachelor’s degrees you can choose to provide the necessary foundation knowledge.
It is important to choose a subject that you are interested in and will be recognized by your chosen law school. Political science, economics, English, business, philosophy, and journalism are all popular choices among prelaw students.
Pass the law school admission test
Once you have gained an undergraduate degree, you need to take and pass the Law School Admission Test. This examination consists of five multiple-choice question sections as well as a writing sample.
The tests measure your skills in important areas such as reasoning, critical thinking, reading comprehension, argumentation, and information management. The Law School Admission Council offers detailed information on the Law School Admission Test.
Enroll in law school
It is important to make sure you choose a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association. Your admission status will depend on your undergraduate coursework, Law School Admission Test scores, and overall GPA. The Law School Admission Council provides a wealth of information on the other admission factors that may be considered.
Earn a Juris Doctor Degree
This degree allows you to practice law in the United States and is offered by around two hundred law schools. It is important to consider the curriculum and your chosen specialty when choosing a law school. It typically takes three years of full-time study to earn a Juris Doctor Degree.
Pass the bar examination
It typically takes two days to complete the requirements for the Multistate Bar Examination. The first day is usually spent completing a written test, while the second day is devoted to various writing examinations.
The state board of bar examiners will also consider your educational background, character, competence, and your ability to represent clients. If you perform well on the tests and meet the criteria set by the state, you will receive full legal licensure.
Advance your career
Once you have a few years of work experience, you may be ready to take your career to the next level. Pursuing further education can help you secure a promotion and eventually become a partner in a law firm. Both the Master of Law and Doctor of Philosophy degrees will help employers sit up and take notice.
The Different Law Concentrations
There are several different areas of law that you can study for and practice. Each of these areas requires a slightly different set of skills as well as specialist knowledge. Here is an overview of the five main law concentrations to help you select your niche.
This area of law can be very lucrative and covers a wide range of aspects of business. People who specialize in business law often work with major corporations and help them to complete sophisticated and complex transactions. This can include mergers and acquisitions, filing for bankruptcy, managing corporate finance, and federal income taxation.
Intellectual property law
This is one of the most rapidly growing law specialties, and it mainly revolves around trademarks, patents, and copyrights. You need to have a deep understanding of all aspects of business and keep up to date with current trends. Some key areas within this specialization include intellectual asset management, cyber law, antitrust, and Internet law.
This area of law is popular among people who have their sights set on litigating in the courtroom. Criminal lawyers represent clients who are accused of committing crimes and need to create strong cases to prove their innocence. It is necessary to have a strong understanding of the theory of criminal law, criminal procedures, and the trial process.
While this is a relatively new specialty area of law, it is quickly becoming very important and complex. You need to be familiar with relevant statutes such as the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act and the Clean Water Act. This helps you to argue the rights of your clients in reference to water rights law, agricultural law, and land use control.
Entertainment and media law
This specialization is popular among people who want to work in the entertainment industry and covers a range of creative industries. You would be charged with representing both major entertainment enterprises and individual artists to protect their rights. Areas include trademark law, copyright law, television law, digital media, and motion picture distribution.
These advanced degrees are designed for legal professionals who want to focus on scholarly research. Most law schools only accept a couple of doctoral students each year, so competition is very high. There are four doctoral degree options you can choose from if you manage to make the grade.
Doctor of Philosophy in Law
This doctorate is designed for Juris Doctor Degree holders who want to pursue academic research. After completing this degree, you will be qualified to teach law at the postsecondary level.
Doctor of Jurisprudence
This degree is intended for law graduates who hold a Masters of Law degree and want to pursue legal research. At the end of the program, students need to complete a dissertation that advances legal scholarship.
Doctor of Juridical Science
This is a research-focused program for students who are focused on leadership roles in public positions. The degree focuses on legal research and allows lawyers to complete legal scholarships.
Doctor of Comparative Law
This degree mainly focuses on international law and highlights the differences among the legal systems in different countries. This degree is ideal for people who want to practice law in another country or represent international corporations.
How To Choose The Right Law School?
No matter how smart you are, completing law school takes time and dedication. Therefore, it is important to take the time to choose the right law school for your needs. Here are the main factors you should think about when checking out different law schools.
It is essential to make sure that the course you complete is accredited by the American Bar Association. If the course is not accredited, you will not be eligible to sit the bar exam and practice law.
Bar exam preparation
Passing the bar exam is no walk in the park, and it can take some people several attempts. Bar exam preparation will help increase your chances of success. Make sure the course prepares you to pass the bar exam in the state you want to practice law.
Libraries and research resources
A lot of your time at law school will revolve around reading case studies and other documents. It is important to make sure the law school has an extensive library and research facility. Check out the available research materials, the quality of the library collection, and the facility operating hours.
You will be working closely with the faculty at the law school, and the right staff can provide a lot of help. When checking out the faculty, take their educational and professional experience into account. Ideally, you should be able to find a mentor who will give you the necessary support and encouragement.
It is important to keep your chosen specialization firmly in mind when checking out the curriculum. When reviewing the curriculum, make sure it meets your goals and interests. The coursework should also be rich and diverse enough to cover all of the bases of general law.
More Advice On Becoming A Lawyer!
Firstly, let’s take a look at my Lawyer Job Description, and my Corporate Lawyer Job Description, as well as my Criminal Lawyer Job Description, my Paralegal Job Description, and why not my Legal Analyst Job Description to find out what the various legal positions entail.
Next, we found amazing guides to help you, such as the So You Want to be a Lawyer: An Ultimate Guide to Getting into & Succeeding in Law School, or how about Going to Law School: Everything You Need to Know to Choose and Pursue a Degree in Law available online in 2022.
Furthermore, we also recommend trying What Can You Do With a Law Degree?: A Lawyer’s Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside & Around the Law, or even try reading How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School and lastly, the Law School Confidential: A Complete Guide to the Law School Experience: By Students, for Students, and How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School.
Although it takes time and dedication to become a lawyer, this can be an interesting and rewarding career.
The average salary for a lawyer is around $126,000 per year. However, experienced lawyers with specialist skills typically earn at least $200,000 per year. People who pursue specialist qualifications and have a strong track record can command high salaries in this profession. Specializing in insurance or financial law will considerably boost your earning potential.
If you have a good head for business, you could also choose to open your own law firm.
All the very best in your new career as a Lawyer!