Career Guide Lawyer
Career Guide Of Lawyer
Lawyers may legally practice after completing a Juris Doctor degree, which is a professional doctorate, and successfully passing the bar exam in the state(s) in which they want to work.
Attorneys often forge their own career paths. In addition to practicing law, seasoned attorneys may teach at colleges or universities, become corporate executives, or enter politics.
In fact, numerous presidents – including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Franklin Roosevelt – were all attorneys prior to becoming politicians. Experienced lawyers may also go on to run to become a judge.
Lawyers may be employed by the government, private law firms, businesses, and non-profit organizations.
Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks
Lawyers generally perform actions on behalf of clients in court, advising them as to the proper course of action in civil and criminal activities.
Attorneys tend to specialize in one aspect of the law, such as product liability, criminal justice, family law, or elder law.
They may also advise companies on the validity of contracts and mergers or other aspects of corporate governance. Unlike many criminal justice careers, lawyers spend the majority of their time in offices or in the courtroom. Aspiring attorneys must have strong critical thinking and public speaking skills as well as research abilities.
Steps for Becoming a Lawyer
A Juris Doctor, or JD, which is a doctoral degree, typically takes three years and is required to become a lawyer. Most law schools require a bachelor’s degree for admission, but many do not require a specific major.
While political science, pre-law, and liberal arts degrees are all common choices for aspiring law students, they are not required. Prospective law students must take – and earn acceptable scores on – the Law School Admission Test, most commonly referred to as the LSAT.
Once a prospective lawyer has earned a JD, he or she must pass the bar exam of the states in which they wish to practice.
You are interested in becoming a lawyer, you should –
- Complete a clerkship at a local law firm to gain experience (optional).
- Take and pass your state Bar Examination.
- Apply to become a lawyer at an established law firm (or start a private practice).
- Be interviewed.
- Get hired as a lawyer.
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in any subject.
- Take and pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
- Attend law school and acquire a Juris Doctor (JD).
Lawyer Job Training
Aspiring lawyers generally begin their hands-on law training in law school. Law school clinics, which are usually non-profit organizations, allow students to gain real-world experience while working with seasoned lawyers.
Students have the opportunity to advise clients under supervision, draft motions, present motions, communicate with the opposing counsel, and investigate cases. Graduates may also gain experience by offering their services pro bono.
New attorneys generally join law firms and must work their way up through the ranks of the law practice or business for which they work. Some law firms also provide training for new attorneys.
What that training entails depends on the individual law firm. Finally, some states require new attorneys to complete state-required training. For example, all new lawyers in Ohio must successfully complete seminars to fulfill their New Lawyer Training (NLT) requirements.
Helpful Experience and Skills
Prospective attorneys should have strong communication skills (both oral and written) and should feel comfortable with public speaking.
Lawyers often work with a diverse clientele and should possess the patience and empathy necessary when working with clients who may be in stressful, emotional situations.
Attorneys with previous law experience, including working for law clinics or non-profits, will generally have a hiring advantage.
Possible Job Titles for This Career Example
Job Outlook and Lawyer Salary
The median salary for lawyers in the United States is $119,250 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, salary varies widely based on whether an attorney is working in private industry or in the government sector.
Top-earning lawyers in the federal government, for example, make an annual average wage of $141,900, while those working in state government make an annual average wage of $85,260. The BLS projects job growth for lawyers to be about 8% from 2016 to 2026.