What is a Lawyer?
The job of a lawyer was always considered lucrative, but it is really hard to become one. Before we answer the question how to become a lawyer and start talking about the extensive education you will need, let’s see what does a lawyer do.
Lawyers’ work is to represent their clients during legal disputes. Their clients can be businesses, individuals, even government agencies.
The daily duties of a lawyer are:
- Researching and gather evidence
- Supervising client’s agreements
- Giving legal advice and explain the law
- Representing clients to the court
- Reading and analyze legal documents
- Drawing legal documents and contracts
- Talking with witnesses
- Supervising and manage paralegals and legal assistants
Lawyers need to have really good attention to details skills.
From signing a contract where a single word can change all the meaning to a small evidence during a case review that can win or lose a case.
Communication skills, all the aspects of this profession have to do with communication, talking to clients, talking to jury, coordinating assistants and paralegals and talking with witnesses. There is no doubt that communication skills are vita for a successful career as a lawyer.
Critical thinking is another important skill lawyers have to possess. When working a case a lawyer has to see what evidence do they have, what do the witness say and finally decide which the best solution is, should they go to court? Should they reach out for an agreement? And if yes, what they should offer for this agreement?
Lawyers work mostly full time but some of them might work more than full time during evenings and weekends if a case demands for it.
They mostly work at lawyer offices and at companies as a part of an in house lawyer team.
The average salary of a lawyer is $120,910.
Criminal defense lawyers’ work is to defend clients accused for crimes. At a jury they mostly face district attorneys and public prosecutors who represent the state against those accused of committing crimes.
Employment and Labor Law
Employment and Labor Law lawyers represent employees, unions of employees, interest groups and government workers in legal disputes regarding: working hours, wages, workplace injuries, workplace safety, and discrimination based on disabilities, race, age and gender, sexual harassment at workspaces and other work related issues.
Real Estate Law
Real estate lawyers’ work involves everything about real estate. They take on cases that will decide on: the owner of a land and the buildings of it, landlord and tenant issues, sales and purchases of real estate property, compliance with national, state and local regulations for the use of real estate property.
Tax lawyers take cases that have to do with taxes. With the complexity and the continuous change of taxes federal and local regulations this is a specialty that has seen huge growth over the last 50 years.
Immigration lawyers are taking cases of foreign nationals who seek temporary or permanent shelter at United States of America.
They assist their clients on all aspects of immigration law but they can also choose a sub specialization due to the complexity of immigration law.
Corporate lawyers help their clients to do business efficiently and legally.
They handle all the legal obligations of businesses from the establishment to bankruptcy.
Civil rights lawyers are concerned with the balance of individual liberties and governmental powers.
The majority of the lawyers take civil rights cases as a side job pro bono.
With the market freedom, international law has seen a huge growth the last decades.
They mostly work with businesses and organizations that want to open branches to foreign countries.
Becoming a Lawyer
Step 1: High School Preparation
High School Courses for Lawyers
You should take advanced placement in literature and English language.
This will help you sharpen your written communication and reading comprehension skills.
Also top universities require a 250 word essay as part of admission requirements. These classes will help you with this also.
All lawyers should know how society works. Courses in government, history, politics and economics will help you with this.
These classes will also help you understand why law exists and how it works.
It will also be easier for you to study more complex law classes like jurisprudence and constitutional law when in law school.
Classes in public speaking will help you build self-confidence and will enhance your verbal skills. Class speeches and presentations will help you with this also. You should also join the debate club, it will help you to learn how to balance the pros and cons of opposing viewpoints.
Problems solving skills are essential for lawyers so what a better idea to practice them than math.
Classes like algebra and calculus will not only help you sharpen your problem solving skills but also with complex data analyzing and complex calculations if you choose to become a tax, corporate or real estate lawyer.
Science courses like physics, and chemistry will introduce you to scientific research techniques and method.
Scientific research techniques will help you a lot as you will need to undertake considerable research to effectively offer legal counseling.
You should also understand basic forensic evidence to understand what happened when facts are presented so science courses will also help you with this also.
Step 2: Get an Undergraduate Degree
Bachelor’s Degree program 4 years
A bachelor’s Degree is the minimum admission requirement of law schools.
The American Bar Association doesn’t recommend any specific field to get a bachelor’s degree at.
The most common field of study for pre-law students are: political science, English, journalism, philosophy, history and business.
Step 3: Pass the (LSAT) Law School Admission Test
Except a bachelor’s degree another common admission requirement along law schools is to pass the (LSAT) Law School Admission Test.
Not have taken the LSAT exam more than 3 times in the last 2 years
Five 35 minutes multiple choice sections. Only four out of these five sections are scored. Then follows an unscored writing section.
The sections you will be tested at are:
In the LSAT test there are two logical reasoning sections. The goal of these sections is to test the candidate’s ability to analyze and dissect arguments. Each section has 24 to 26 questions.
There is one section of reading comprehension that consists of four 400-500 words readings followed by 5 to 8 questions on each reading. The whole section has 24 to 28 questions.
There is one section of analytical reasoning called the “logic games” section.
There are 4 “games” in this section in categories like grouping, ordering of elements and matching. An example of a game would be:
“There is a meeting today this afternoon with 7 people coming” (with an established set of conditions among their relationships). “If George is present Mike will not be present, if Betty is present Mary is present too etc.” Then the examinee is asked to come with an answer to a question like, “How many people are attending today’s meeting?”
This is known as the most difficult section of the LSAT test as the rules do not produce a “correct” answer. The examinee has to show her/his ability to analyze a range of possibilities as an outcome of a set of rules.
Unscored Variable section
This section is called as “variable section”. At this section the examinee is not scored and its purpose is to test new questions for future tests.
Writing sample is the last part of the exam. At this section the examinee is provided with one problem and two criteria for making a decision. The examinee then has to write an essay where she/he will favor one option over the other.
The interesting part of this section is that the essay is not scored. It gets digitally imaged and afterwards sent to admission offices with the LSAT score.
Step 4: Go to law school
Juris Doctor Degree program 3 years
Juris Doctor Degrees are 75-100 semester credit hour programs that can be completed on-campus.
It is pretty difficult to get accepted at a program like that as you will need:
- A bachelor’s Degree
- Pass Law School Admission Test
- A Personal Statement
- Two letters of recommendation
- A Resume
At the first year of your law school studies you will take fundamental law classes to get a basic law knowledge, at the second and third years you will have only elective courses where you can choose your specialization.
First Year (30 Credits)
- Foundations of Law
- Civil Procedure
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law
- Legal Analysis, Research and Writing
Second and Third year electives (50 credits)
- Distinctive Aspects of U.S. Law
- Administrative Law
- Legal Writing: Craft & Style
- Art Law
- Business Strategy for Lawyers
- Sports and the Law
- Conflict of Laws
- State and Local Government Law
- Employment Discrimination
- Environmental Law
- International Human Rights
- Family Law
- Insurance Law
- International Law
- Labor Law
- Principles of Commercial and Bankruptcy Law
- Internet Law
- Copyright Law
- Federal Criminal Law
- Gender & the Law
- International Taxation
- Trial Practice
- Medicine and Law
- Entertainment Law
- 556: Second Amendment: History, Theory, and Practice
- Race and the Law
- Telecommunications Law
- Readings in Ethics
- Externship Paper
- Spanish for Legal Studies
- Research Tutorial
- S. Supreme Court
- Elder Law
- International Business Law
- Judicial Writing
- Deposition Practice
The cost of a Juris Doctor Degree program is between $200,500 and $265,590.
Before you apply to a university we recommend to contact them and ask them everything you need to know from admission requirements to cost.
Click the button below to get free info about accredited Juris Doctor Degree program programs near you.
Step 5: Pass the American Bar Examination
In order to practice law, law school graduates need to pass the American Bar Exam.
Graduated from a law school accredited by the ABA.
2 day written test. At the first day you need to complete the Multi state Bar Examination and at the second you get examined at various legal matters.
Cost: $200- $800 (depending on state)
How Long Does it Take to Become a Lawyer and How Much Does it Cost?
$200,500 – $265,590
American Bar Examination
$200, 700 – $266, 390