Every lawyer needs a license to be able to practice law. Lawyers act as advocates of what is right, legal and binding. Though they are generally thought of as somebody who represents people in court, there is more to what they do than many individuals believe.
While you can refer to them interchangeably as an attorney, counsellor, advisor, solicitor or a barrister, this profession’s scope extends to a broad umbrella of jobs. Besides lawsuits, they conduct research, public speaking, and teaching. A lawyer may enter into politics or later on become a judge as advocates of justice.
The average salary of a lawyer in the United States ranges from US$58,649 to US$252,953 annually. It is one of the highest-paid professions, which is 117% above the U.S.’s national average wage. Considering how attractive this salary is, the process of becoming a lawyer is not a walk in the park.
Being a good lawyer is owed to one’s studying habits from a young age. As it requires high logic, impressive public speaking skills, and academic excellence, there’s a whole lot of steps to meet to practice professionally.
Earn a bachelor’s degree
Finish a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with flying colours. Though courses in political science, liberal arts, and pre-law are the most common to fill up this part, it doesn’t matter what major you have selected since it doesn’t put weight on your application in becoming a lawyer.
What does though is a high-grade point average (GPA). So do keep this in check in addition to your involvement in extra-curricular activities.
Take and pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
Depending on the country of the school you’re taking your doctorate in, this exam may have a different name to schools in other countries. This is the exam you take that gauges if you deserve to be considered or admitted to law school. It takes only half a day to finish it. So, if you can invest in practice tests, LSAT prep courses and study guides, you will be better prepared.
Choose and attend a law school, then finish it and acquire a Juris Doctor (JD)
Whether you want to be a consumer lawyer or a family lawyer, choosing the law school that you’ll go to is a significant undertaking. Different law schools uphold strict standards, and usually, some firms hire lawyers depending on where you graduate. To guide you in deciding, consider three factors:
- Law School rankings – A law school with a 100% passing grade in the Bar exams means it is equipped with the right training and assistance to support your academic goals until you are a full-pledged lawyer ready to practice independently.
- Location – Anywhere that will aid you in your commute is advisable since it’s better to use the extra time to study than going to and from school. The idea of a dormitory is not bad at all to spare you of travel time as well.
- Tuition Fee Costs – While for some aspiring lawyers, this might be the least of their concerns, it is good to be aware that it’s not cheap to study law at all. From the 4-year bachelor’s degree to the three-year doctorate, you should be secure to make payments to avoid delays in enrolment and completion.
In America, becoming a Juris Doctor (JD) takes three years, since it’s a doctoral degree and is one of the requirements in becoming a lawyer. In other places and countries, it takes eight years to finish law, as pre-law courses are combined with the bachelor’s degree of choice.
Complete some clerkship at a prospect law firm or in a local one
In order to gather some experience, it’s good to take part in some clerkship work. This may be done while in law school and not only gives you the needed exposure, but it also paves the way for future employment as well. With the case of requiring Practical Legal Training, after one finishes their law degree, completion of such is needed regardless of clerkship work.
Get licensed by passing the bar exam
The bar exam is a test administered by a jurisdiction’s bar association that a lawyer needs to pass to obtain a license to practice. It gauges the knowledge and training one has accomplished. Depending on where you want to practice, you have to pass the specific bar exam of a particular territory or state.
This 5-step process may look simple. But each step is crucial as it involves a high degree of competition, expectation, and dedication. In addition to these requirements, one who aspires to become a lawyer should be able to participate in a debate effectively. You must find what your passion is and if you want to become a privacy lawyer, criminal lawyer or tax lawyer, just to name a few.