where to start if you want to be a lawyer

by Dr. Elizabeth West 9 min read

How to Become a Lawyer

  • Work Hard and Do Well in College. If you are sure you want to be a lawyer even in high school, you should choose a college or university that has ...
  • Between Your Junior and Senior Years of College, Study for and Take the LSAT. ...
  • Apply to Law Schools. ...
  • Work Hard and Do Well in Law School. ...
  • Study for and Pass the Bar Exam. ...
  • Find a Law Job. ...

So You Want To Be A Lawyer: 8 Steps
  • Is This What You Want? ...
  • Apply For and Attend Undergraduate School. ...
  • Choose a Major. ...
  • Prepare for and Take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) ...
  • Apply For Law School. ...
  • Attend Law School. ...
  • Take the Bar Exam. ...
  • Get Hired as an Associate and Become a Lawyer.
Jun 8, 2021

Full Answer

What degree do you need to become a lawyer?

Nov 18, 2021 · The average annual tuition and fees among private institutions in the U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings that submitted these statistics for the 2020-21 academic year were $51,268. At public ...

What to know before becoming a lawyer?

You go to a startup law firm to learn the ecosystem.”. But the main reason to go to a startup law firm, Burke further explains, is to really gain a deep understanding of the ecosystem, which companies are more likely to succeed and why. “ If you try to enter the startup ecosystem from the outside, you’re going to be flying blind,” Burke ...

How do you know if you got a good lawyer?

Sep 09, 2019 · Successful lawyers are independent self-starters who know how to manage deadlines effectively. You won’t be able to rely on a lot of hand-holding as a new attorney. You’ll have to schedule court appearances, client meetings, and filing deadlines. You’ll need to track your billable hours in 6- to 15-minute increments.

How do I become a good lawyer?

Aug 26, 2021 · That’s why it’s important to break down the tasks of starting a law practice into phases or segments, starting with the necessary basics: 1. …


What can I do to begin to preparing to be a lawyer?

How to Become a LawyerComplete a Bachelor's Degree Program You Enjoy. A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement for admission to law school. ... Pass the Law School Admission Test. ... Identify Law Schools and Complete Applications. ... Earn a Juris Doctor Degree. ... Pass the Bar Examination. ... Advance Your Career.Feb 17, 2022

Where do most lawyers start?

Once you have your law degree, you'll usually start out at a law firm as an associate. After around six to nine years at the firm, you'll have a shot at becoming a partner, and eventually a managing partner. Some lawyers also choose to start their own firm after gaining experience within the field.Sep 21, 2021

How do I know if I want to be a lawyer?

You work well with others. That's right—being a lawyer means working with people! ... You can persuade others. The ability to persuade=the practice of law. ... You are independent and self-disciplined. ... You can endure the grind. ... You don't take things at face value. ... You must be able to network.Sep 9, 2019

What should I study to become a lawyer?

Eligibility to Become a Lawyer They must sit for various national level or University level entrance exams such as CLAT, AILET, LSAT etc. They must complete their 5 years Undergraduate course such as BA LLB, BCom LLB, BSc LLB. Students who have LLM degree can also become a lawyer.

What is the highest paid lawyer?

Highest paid lawyers: salary by practice areaPatent attorney: $180,000.Intellectual property (IP) attorney: $162,000.Trial attorneys: $134,000.Tax attorney (tax law): $122,000.Corporate lawyer: $115,000.Employment lawyer: $87,000.Real Estate attorney: $86,000.Divorce attorney: $84,000.More items...•Dec 14, 2021

Do lawyers make good money?

Do lawyers actually make good money? A: Law careers have always been some of the most lucrative in the United States. Depending on their location and specialty, lawyers can make as much as $200,000+ a year, which is considerably more than people make in most other professions.Sep 21, 2021

How many years do you have to study to be a lawyer?

7 yearsBecoming a lawyer usually takes 7 years of full-time study after high school—4 years of undergraduate study, followed by 3 years of law school. Most states and jurisdictions require lawyers to complete a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).Sep 8, 2021

Is becoming a lawyer hard?

The challenging years of law school The process of becoming a lawyer isn't for the faint of heart. The BLS reports that it typically takes seven years of full-time postsecondary education to become a lawyer. This breaks down to four years for a Bachelor's degree, followed by three years of law school.Jun 2, 2017

What do you like about being an attorney?

You might enjoy being an attorney if you like logic puzzles, research, and critical thinking. If logical reasoning doesn't come naturally, you can still develop those skills over time. You might take classes in logic or pick up logic puzzles to hone your skills.

What are the skills required to practice law?

Logical reasoning and critical-thinking skills are essential to the practice of law. Analytical skills are necessary for all practice areas, whether you're structuring a multi-million-dollar deal or developing a trial strategy. You might enjoy being an attorney if you like logic puzzles, research, and critical thinking.

What is public speaking?

Public Speaking. As an attorney, public speaking is a part of your day-to-day life. You'll present information to clients, juries, judges, arbitrators, opposing counsel, witnesses, boards, and colleagues. Trial lawyers present information in the courtroom. Corporate attorneys must be at ease in the boardroom.

How many hours do lawyers work?

This isn't a requirement for all lawyers, but some value-conscious clients might expect you to be accessible around the clock. Most lawyers work full time, and many work more than 40 hours per week. 9  Lawyers who work in public interest venues and academia might have more forgiving schedules, but they often trade high salaries for a better work-life balance.

What is client development?

Client Development. Most law firm attorneys are responsible for client development. Compensation, bonuses, draws, and partnership opportunities are frequently based on an attorney’s ability to bring in business for the firm, at least in part. 10 . If you choose to work for a law firm, you must excel at marketing yourself ...

What is constant writing?

Constant Writing. Words are a lawyer’s tool of the trade. Attorneys are expected to be good writers as well as excellent speakers. Trial attorneys will need to master oral and written persuasion as they argue motions, try cases, take depositions, and draft various legal pleadings.

How long does it take to get a law degree?

It'll take you three years to earn your law school degree. If you want one to find success after graduation—no matter what type of law you hope to go into—you've got to do well in law school. The way students are graded here is very different from how they're graded in college.

When do law firms hire summer associates?

Law firms usually hire summer associates at the beginning of the second year —at this point, only grades from your first year will be available. The type of jobs available to you as a student—and after graduation—will be heavily dependent on your grades from 1L. Your grades are mostly dependent on your exam performance.

What is MPRE in law school?

While you're in law school, you may have to take the MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination), which is required for admission to the bars of most states. The examination is meant to test students' knowledge and understanding of established standards related to a lawyer's professional conduct.

Is it easier to become a lawyer at a top law school?

If you end up at a well-ranked school, the following steps you'll have to take to become a lawyer will be that much easier. Like I mentioned earlier, students at top-15 law schools have a much easier time finding a job than students at lower-ranked schools. The better your undergraduate program, the better your chances of getting into one of these top law schools.

Do I need to go to law school to become a lawyer?

The American Bar Association (ABA) doesn't recommend any specific major or discipline for students who hope to become lawyers. Some schools have pre-law programs, but (as I've mentioned) they're rare and not necessary in order to get into a great law school.

What are some ways to boost your college application?

Extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and leadership experience all help boost your college applications. Some activities might double as a way to get a feel for the legal profession. Check out these posts for more information on these activities:

How many times a year is the LSAT administered?

The test is administered only four times a year - usually in February, June, September, and December—so plan on registering months in advance. The latest you can take the LSAT for Fall admission is December of the previous year, although it's best to take it earlier (aim for June or September).

How much do lawyers make?

Lawyers make a median salary of $129,910, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But there is a large amount of variation between different specializations and the public and private sectors. According to Salary.com as of October 20, 2019, the average salary for the below specializations are as follows:

How many hours do lawyers work?

Working 60-80+ hours a week is typical here (especially at larger firms), but most lawyers can expect to work long hours no matter what field. Most law school graduates work in law firms when first starting out, to get the specialized experience necessary before going into other fields later on.

Is the LSAT the same as the GRE?

In terms of other academic requirements, the LSAT is the universal standardized test for law school entrance, while the GRE is the exam taken by those applying to graduate school. Some schools have begun accepting it in lieu of the LSAT to offer greater flexibility to applicants.

Why is summer associate important?

These internships are important because summer associates are usually asked to return to their firm, after they graduate and pass the Bar. Securing a good summer associate position and excelling in it can mean that the first years of your career are set early on.

What is the role of a lawyer?

Lawyers play a role in many aspects of our everyday lives, including mortgages and leases, patented items , and the court cases we most often associate with the law. These different aspects, among others, are part of the many different specialties a lawyer can pursue.

Can a lawyer become a judge?

Clerking for a judge is also a government position available to lawyers; becoming a judge is also a possibility, but only a small percentage of lawyers go on to become judges, as it requires gaining much experience and being appointed or elected to the position.

What does a general counsel do?

Some businesses contract outside law firms to work on their behalf, but others will retain general counsel on their staff to advise on various legal matters. This work could include negotiating contracts, managing risk, advising on business deals, and anything else that comes up in day-to-day business.

Who is Salil Gandhi?

As Salil Gandhi, an emerging companies partner at Goodwin Procter in New York City, describes it, “ Startup lawyers act as outside general counsel for high-growth startups throughout the lifecycle.” The day-to-day translates to “counseling startup clients through the formation process and capital raising from angels and venture capitalists, advising on legal and business issues that arise as the companies scale and grow, and then eventually helping them sell the business or take the company public in an IPO. ” Gandhi’s practice mostly involves representing startup companies themselves, but he also represents venture capital (VC) funds when they invest in startups.

Is a startup a risky endeavor?

Startups are inherently risky endeavors. As Whistler Managing Director Kathleen Mon sees it: “ Startups are disruptors. If you want that life, you have to be about that life. If you want to work in this space, you can't expect to follow the typical legal career path.

Do corporate lawyers prefer business?

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a corporate lawyer secretly—or, in many cases, not so secretly—would prefer a career in business. Any recruiter who speaks regularly with corporate/transactional associates at big law firms invariably hears that their eventual goal is to move over to the business side, or at least to get closer to the business. But what many of these attorneys fail to realize is that there are ways to continue practicing law while still getting to flex those business muscles as a key member of the top-level strategic team at fast-paced, growing companies. Now, does that sound like something you might be interested in?

What does it mean to be a lawyer?

You work well with others. That’s right—being a lawyer means working with people! Fellow attorneys, judges, court clerks, clients, etc., are all crucial to a lawyer’s job. You have to be a “people person” to succeed. Sure, lawyers must always have their clients’ interests at heart, but those interests are often best served by exercising effective ...

What makes a good attorney?

A key trait of a good attorney is the ability to convince others of their point of view through persuasion—both oral and written. Yes, that means that excellent writing skills can’t be underemphasized. More on this in a bit.

How important is networking as a lawyer?

Building your network as a lawyer, both throughout law school and beyond, is immensely important, especially if you decide to go the sole practitioner route. Lawyers will build relationships with other attorneys they know and trust and refer clients to one another.#N#Even if you work for a firm, you may eventually be responsible for bringing in new clients and for essentially marketing the firm, and the more comfortable you are with networking and connecting with various people (as a way of life on a day-to-day basis, not at so-called and often useless “networking events” ), the more success you will find as a lawyer.

What is the ability to persuade?

The ability to persuade=the practice of law. Think that loving to argue means you’ll be a great lawyer? Beware of the myth that merely battling it out with an opponent somehow defines the job description of a lawyer. A key trait of a good attorney is the ability to convince others of their point of view through persuasion—both oral and written. Yes, that means that excellent writing skills can’t be underemphasized. More on this in a bit.#N#We’ve all seen TV lawyers give impassioned—sometimes tearful—oral arguments in front of judges and juries, and that is what you might envision as the job of a litigator. However, you may find yourself frequently using your skills of persuasion as a criminal defense attorney, for example, with the judge and DA in chambers, outside of open court. You may need to advocate for a client who was arrested for a DUI or drug possession to be allowed to enter treatment for addiction instead of serving jail time. If so, you will ultimately need to convince those involved that this is the best course of action, both for your client and the community.#N#Additionally, you need to be able to persuade in writing. For example, you will write motions to persuade a judge as to how a particular rule of law should be applied to your client’s case. You’ll need to write—and write a LOT—as an attorney. It might not be as glamorous as an awe-inspiring courtroom speech straight out of a John Grisham novel, but persuasive and effective writing is an essential skill of lawyers. And moving speeches have to be written too.

Is LSAT a predictor of law school success?

This is an essential LSAT skill, too, and at least part of the reason your LSAT score is a predictor of first-year law school success, since it is relevant to the actual practice of law.

How to become a lawyer in high school?

Because much of a lawyer’s practice involves communicating, courses that build vocabulary help. Students also should take classes that look at how human behavior interacts with institutions. That includes sociology, political science, psychology and history. Science and math classes sharpen analytical thinking. Coursework that trains students to read large amounts of information is vital. Stick with honors or advanced placement courses and read as much as possible to prepare for the rigors of law school. It's also important to keep your grade-point average high so that you have your choice of colleges and eventually law school.

Does the Department of Justice offer internships?

The U.S. Department of Justice offers high school students both paid and unpaid internships, through which students can learn about legal careers with the federal government.

How to get into law school?

4  Even in high school, you can start practicing these skills. Sign up for your school's speech and debate team or try out for a play to start practicing your public speaking.

What are the skills required to become a lawyer?

These skills include: Problem-solving. Reading comprehension. Spoken and written communication. Research. Organization and time management. Critical thinking.

What are the skills required for law school?

Law schools look for a set of skills that you can begin developing at any point in your academic work. These skills include: 1 Problem-solving. 2 Reading comprehension. 3 Spoken and written communication. 4 Research. 5 Organization and time management. 6 Critical thinking. 7 Community involvement and public service.

How to improve your chances of getting into college?

These steps will also improve your college admissions chances and prepare you for doing well in undergraduate classes. Look for hands-on experience. Even as a high school student, you might be able to gain hands-on experience in the legal profession. Whether it’s a summer job or an internship for course credit ...

Who is Alison Monahan?

Alison Monahan wrote about legal careers for The Balance Careers. She is a lawyer and founder of The Girl's Guide to Law School. If you’re sure you want to be a lawyer, but you’re still in high school, you still have many years before law school applications. However, it doesn't hurt to plan ahead.

What are the skills that high schoolers need?

Critical thinking. Community involvement and public service. As early as high school, you can begin pursuing classes and extracurriculars that help you improve and grow these skills. 1 .

How to prepare for law school?

1 . Take advanced classes. College is difficult, and law school is even harder.