Adults love to ask children what they would like to be when they grow up. Most of the time, children do not aspire to become lawyers simply because they do not fully understand what lawyers do on a daily basis.
Instead, many kids will say they would like careers as firemen, policemen, or astronauts - careers that are often glorified on television and film.
Salary-wise, lawyers are known to make large amounts. But this salary comes at a cost as law schools across the United States can be expensive and difficult to get into and graduate from.
Once a student graduates from law school, they have a variety of career options from working in the corporate law world, becoming criminal lawyers, or working at non-profit companies or for humanitarian causes.
More Reasons to Become a Lawyer
It is no secret that lawyers make a lot of money in the United States. Since we live in a materialistic world, it is tempting to go into the law professional simply for the high salaries. But do keep in mind that not all lawyers end up making a lot of money after they complete law school, especially those working for smaller employers or non-profit organizations.
Like doctors, lawyers are highly in demand as there are always individuals, groups, and organizations that require legal assistance. Working as a lawyer can be a rewarding job because one can help advance the greater good of society.
Some bar associations also require their members to complete a certain pro bono hours each year as a way of giving back to the community. These hours are dedicated to the neediest members of society who cannot afford to pay for legal advice.
There are many specific disciplines within the law profession such as corporate law and criminal law. No matter what you are interested in, law students will usually find a subject area within the law field that they are interested in and passionate about. After all, there are many choices!
Do You Have the Skills to Become a Lawyer?
Similar to how firefighters need to be physically fit battle difficult fires and policemen need to pass strength tests to chase down criminals in a foot-chase, the law profession also requires certain skill sets that will help a person become better lawyers.
Of course, not everyone is born with these skills. But like becoming physically fit, the skills a person needs to become a lawyer can be achieved through dedication, hard work, and daily practice.
These skills may come naturally for some and not so much for others, but the important thing is to learn not to give up and to continue on during difficult times.
This one is an obvious one. Lawyers need to be able to communicate their ideas very quickly and clearly and often times in simple terms so those who did not study the profession will understand what they are talking about. They also need to be able to choose their words very carefully, especially when they are in a courtroom.
The profession of law is very people-based. Most lawyers will spend a large chunk of their time dealing with people face-to-face, whether in the courtroom in front of a judge or in their offices with paying clients. They must also be persuasive so they can convince others in the courtroom on behalf of their clients.
Judgment skills refer to a lawyer’s ability to come to important conclusions from a limited amount of information. For example, when working on a case in the courtroom, they need to be able to pinpoint the weaknesses in the opposition’s arguments and then make a judgment right on the spot.
The lawyer profession can be one of the most demanding ones that can consume your everyday life. From law school all the way up until you retire, you may be spending the majority of your time working or studying.
That’s why being a hard and disciplined worker is an important skill to have to succeed as a lawyer. You need to be able to complete many tasks and assignments within a short period of time.
This skill can be learned through the many years of law school one has to complete before they can start working in the law profession.
Process of Becoming a Lawyer in the USA
In the USA, the profession of a lawyer is a highly respected one not only because of the work lawyers do, but also because it is a long process. When you decide to become a lawyer, you are dedicating many years of your life simply for a chance to practice law. If you are still interested, here are the exact steps an aspiring lawyer has to follow as a law student.
Step 1 - Get a Bachelor’s Degree
Aspiring lawyers cannot apply to law school directly after high school. Instead, they need to obtain a bachelor’s degree first to meet the minimum educational requirements for law schools.
So you might be wondering, what bachelor’s degree should you get? Believe it or not, the American Bar Association does not recommend any particular field for law school.
In fact, students can get into law school from every area of study ranging from mathematics to philosophy. So be sure to pick a subject you are interested in and are more likely to excel at.
Step 2 - Pass the Entrance Exam
After the completion of a bachelor’s degree, the next step is to study for the Law School Admission Test or LSAT. Law schools around the country have admission officers who use the LSAT as the basis for admitting applicants. This test includes five sections with multiple-choice questions as well as a writing sample.
The goal of the LSAT is to assess how much knowledge the applicants know as well as give a numerical score to the quality of law school applicants. The test is designed to measure the suitability of the candidate when it comes to law work and measures qualities such as reading comprehension, critical thinking, and argumentation.
Step 3 - Apply, Apply, Apply
There are many law schools in the United States, and prospective law students should do their research carefully before they apply. Ideally, you’ll want to submit your application to schools that are accredited by the American Bar Association.
Law school can be extremely expensive, so do make sure you are fully committed to a program or school before you sent in your application form.
Application fees can also go up to hundreds of dollars, so you’ll have to make sure to only apply to schools you have a chance of getting into as well as ones you are interested in attending.
Step 4 - Complete the JD Degree
The JD Degree, or Juris Doctor degree, is the official name of the degree you will receive when you graduate from a law school in America. It is a nationally recognized degree that can be completed after three years of full-time studies. It is currently offered by 205 law schools that are also accredited by the American Bar Association.
A JD degree also consists of multiple specialties and students should select a program that specializes in a topic area of their interest. Some law subject specialties a student can focus on include property law, environmental law, family law, tax law, and criminal law.
Step 5 - Pass the Bar Exam
This is the last step a law student has to take before they enter the working world. Most states in the U.S. require lawyers to take and pass the bar exam after the completion of their law studies at an ABA-accredited school.
The bar exams differ slightly between each state but must take over a period of two days. Usually, the first day is spent on the standard Bar exam test while the second day consists of a written component on legal matters.
Step 6 - Gain Experience as an Associate
After a new lawyer passes the Bar Exam, he or she will spend their first several years working as law associates. During these years, they will work with other seasoned lawyers to practice their craft until they gain enough experience to become partners in a firm.
One can also choose to open their own law office to practice on their own, or switch trajectories and work as a judge or in public law service positions. A researcher option is also available for those interested in getting their Master of Law or Doctor of Philosophy in Law.