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How Do I Become a Lawyer?

Editorial Staff

How Do I Become a Lawyer?

The answer to the titular question is with great effort and time. Prospective lawyers must undertake a series of steps to practice law, including completion of undergraduate and graduate degrees, examinations and licensing processes.

After this effort and time, there can be an excellent payoff to becoming a lawyer. For instance, the median annual salary is $126,930, and some salaries exceed $200,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Complete a Bachelor’s Degree Program

The minimum educational requirement to be admitted into law school is a bachelor’s degree. Luckily, there is no singular field of study recommended by the American Bar Association at this level. In fact, you can gain admission to law school from nearly every area of study, ranging from political science to mathematics.

There’s no correct major to pursue to get into law school. If you take a bachelor’s that you know you will enjoy, then you are likely to receive better grades. This, in turn, makes you a more competitive candidate for law school.

Pass the Law School Admission Test

Another core component of the admissions process for law school is the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. The admissions officers for law schools use scores from the LSAT as an objective measure when assessing the knowledge and quality of applicants.

The examination includes five multiple-choice question sections and an unscored writing sample. The LSAT measures skills in critical areas of future legal work, including reading comprehension, information management, analysis and critical thinking, reasoning, and argumentation.

Identify Law Schools, Complete Applications

Some students, after finishing their undergraduate degree, choose to forego further education, whilst others choose to gain professional experience in some other fields before enrolling in law school. Once you decide it is time to start applying, you should only consider law schools accredited by the American Bar Association, henceforth known as the ABA.

In addition to your overall Grade Point Average (GPA), undergraduate coursework, and LSAT scores, other admission factors may include community service, organizational affiliations, and recommendation letters from educators, alumni or legal professionals. The Law School Admission Council is a great resource for students in the research phase of the law school application process.

Earn a Juris Doctor Degree

The Juris Doctor (JD) is the nationally recognized degree for practicing law in the United States and is currently offered by 205 ABA-accredited law schools. Prospective students should have knowledge of the faculty, areas of study, tuition, and curriculum prior to applying. There are numerous specialties within legal practice and students should select a program that offers a focused curriculum in their area of interest. For example, students may choose to concentrate in areas of real estate, property, criminal, environmental, tax, or family law. Typically students can complete their Juris Doctor in three years of full-time study.

Popular concentrations include corporate law, family law, labor law, civil rights law, health law, intellectual property law, and tax law.

Pass the Bar Examination

What has seeped into popular consciousness for prospective law students is the Bar examination. Most states in the US demand that their lawyers graduate from an ABA-approved law school and pass the state bar examination prior to qualifying in that state.

Though each state sets its own guidelines for testing, the bar is normally a two day process/ Day one consists of taking and completing the Multistate Bar Examination, whilst day two concerns itself with writing examinations that cover various legal matters. In addition to the bar examination, the state board of examiners consider the candidate’s background in education, character, competence, and ability to represent others in legal matters before they offer a full legal license.

After getting in…

There are many opportunities for lawyers to advance their careers after getting into law school. Generally, freshmen lawyers will start out as associates, honing their craft alongside seasoned professionals. After several years of successful practice, attorneys may rise to become partners in a firm while others may choose to open their own law office. Some may move beyond practicing law and become a judge or shift into public positions.

SEE ALSO: How Do I Become a Teacher?

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