Are you someone who enjoys problem solving? Do you have a good eye for details? Would you consider yourself a people person? If so, becoming a lawyer may be in your future.
A career in law can be incredibly exciting. It demands an ability to think on your feet and put in some long hours in the beginning. Beyond paying well, a career as a lawyer also allows you to help people, and sometimes in profound ways.
Lawyers act on behalf of clients in court, advising them on proper courses of action in civil and criminal trials. Lawyers typically specialize in one aspect of law, such as criminal justice, family law or liability. Some lawyers may advise companies on contract validity and mergers.
On a daily basis, lawyers typically meet with clients either in person, or discuss trial specifics over the phone. They will also conduct legal research and prepare file court documents. On some days, attorneys may need to appear in court to select jury members and argue cases for clients.
Lawyers who work in a large firm may also spend time conferring with colleagues and overseeing paralegals and other support personnel. Of course, the day-to-day activities will really be dictated by the area of law the individual specializes in. Let’s take a look at some of the most common areas of law practice.
A family law attorney will devote significant time and attention to negotiating divorce agreements as well as child custody and child support agreements. Some may also handle adoption proceedings.
Criminal defense lawyers prepare and argue cases that deal with criminal activity, defending those who have been charged with a crime. Criminal defense lawyers may niche down even further to become a public defender, United States attorney, or a private lawyer. Some may choose to focus on a specific area of criminal law such as DUI, property crimes or financial crimes.
These lawyers work with individuals who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence. Some may work with the family of a loved one who was killed due to negligence. These lawyers may focus on work-related injuries, medical malpractice or car accidents.
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for lawyers was $120,910 in May 2018. Those lawyers working in New York, California and the District of Columbia earned the highest salaries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for lawyers will rise by roughly 6% between 2018 and 2028. The BLS also suggests competition for legal positions will be strong. Candidates can set themselves apart from the competition by pursuing higher education, gaining some solid work experience, and focusing on areas of law that deal with technology, consumer privacy and artificial intelligence.
The Path to Becoming a Lawyer
If you are considering becoming a lawyer, then you’ll need to take the following steps:
Step 1. Get Your Degree
Your journey begins by obtaining your undergraduate bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. While you can become a lawyer with any undergraduate major, it is often advised you major in history, government, economics or political science. List of common legal degrees here.
Regardless of which major you choose, be sure to see how OnlineDegree.com could help you as well. You can take free courses toward your degree and utilize tuition discounts we’ve organized at universities across the country…we provide all of this for free as part of our mission to make college a reality for everyone.
Step 2. Attend Law School
Aspiring lawyers are required to attend a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association. To be accepted, you’ll need to first pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
Law school typically lasts three years and results in obtaining your Juris Doctor (J.D. degree). You will most likely spend one year of generalized study of the broader areas of law, then spend two years of coursework specializing in a specific field of legal studies.
Step 3. (optional) Gain Legal Experience Outside of the Classroom
While education is paramount, legal experience outside of the classroom will be very useful when it comes time to find a job later on. Consider an internship at a local law firm or district attorney’s or public defender’s offices. Any real-world experience you gain early on will only help you pave that path to employment later.
Step 4. Pass the Bar Exam
This rigorous test measures your overall knowledge of the law. Bar exams will differ from state to state, though many have now adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). The UBE helps streamline the process for aspiring lawyers who are open to practicing law in more than one state.
Step 5. Land That First Job!
You’ve gotten your degree, gone to law school and passed the difficult bar exam. Now it’s time to become an employed lawyer. Hopefully you have established a network of contacts while studying and interning you can call on to offer you a position.
You most likely will start out as a lower-level associate at a larger firm, but once you prove yourself, you can move on to more complex cases and eventually become partner. You may also decide you want to strike out on your own and start your own practice.
You may also want to become president of the United States. Out of 45 presidents, 25 have been lawyers!
Getting Started on Your Legal Career
So you understand your first step on getting started toward your dream career is getting that bachelor’s degree. But here are a few additional resources to check out to get started on your path to becoming a lawyer:
- Why Online Education Might Be Best- Working adults typically have little free time to attend traditional classes. They also tend to have limited budgets to further their education. Online degrees offer flexible scheduling for adult students who have other life commitments. So, even if you’re a parent that also works full-time, an online program can work around your schedule.
- Salary and Other Data on Lawyers:
- How OnlineDegree.com Can Help- To make college a reality for everyone, we provide free courses that could apply toward your degree, tuition discounts at universities across the country, and much needed guidance. All free.
If you’re ready to get started toward becoming a lawyer, enroll with us today!