How To Become A Lawyer: Law School & Careers

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Aug 25, 2021

Aug 25, 2021 • by Rebecca Smith

To practice law, new soon-to-be lawyers must complete a number of steps, including completing degrees such as undergraduate and graduate, licensing examinations, and passing exams. Before you embark on this journey, it is important to ask yourself why you want to be a lawyer. Also, consider whether or not they are ready to dedicate several years studying law. If you answered yes, then the following steps will outline the academic, skill-building, and licensing requirements to start a career in law. 

Now, are you ready to embark on your path to your dream job? Here are the steps you will need to follow in order to become a lawyer or attorney.

Complete A Bachelor's Degree Program That You Enjoy

For admission to law school, a bachelor's degree must be obtained. The ABA states that law school admissions can be obtained from almost any area of study. English, journalism, economics, and business are all common undergraduate majors. There is no right or wrong major for law school. According to legal professionals, potential J.D. Students who enjoy taking classes report higher GPA scores. Your undergraduate GPA is crucial for law school admissions. Therefore, it's important to focus on courses you love in order to be a competitive candidate.

Pass The Admission Test

As well as an undergraduate degree, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a key component of the law school admissions process. LSAT scores are used by admission officers to evaluate applicants' knowledge and quality. There are five sections of multiple-choice questions and an unscored writing sample. The LSAT tests candidates' ability to reading comprehension, critical thinking, reasoning, and argumentation in key areas of future legal work.

Choose Law Schools And Submit Applications

Some students decide to stop further education after completing their undergraduate degrees. Others gain work experience in different fields before enrolling in law school. No matter the time, students should only look at law schools that are accredited by the American Bar Association. Other factors that may be considered include undergraduate coursework, overall GPA, and LSAT scores. The Law School Admission Council is a great resource for students in the research phase of the law school application process.

Earn A Juris-Doctor Degree

The Juris Doctor, which is nationally recognized for practicing law in the US, is only offered currently by accredited schools of law. Before applying, prospective students need to be familiar with the curriculum, faculty, study areas, and tuition. Students should choose a program that focuses on their particular area of interest. There are many specialties in legal practice. Students may decide to focus on areas such as real estate, property or criminal, tax, environmental, tax or family law. Students can usually complete their Juris Doctor within three years of full-time studies. There are many popular concentrations: 

Corporate Law: This lucrative field includes corporate or business law, which involves the formation and dissolution, mergers and acquisitions, and other corporate-related responsibilities.

Family law: This law deals with the legal relationships between families, such as marriage, divorce and domestic partnerships, adoption, child welfare, and foster care.

Labor law: The San Francisco Bay Area personal injury attorneys at Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP represent workers in matters such as wrongful termination, compensation, and workplace death. Partner, John N. Frye, earned his Juris Doctorate from Hastings College of Law in 1969 and recently obtained a settlement for his client of more than $10 million. He says "though in some states, having a Juris Doctor degree is not required to practice law, earning your Juris Doctorate is incredibly important and is a goal that should be achieved."

Civil rights law: These lawyers protect the civil rights of individuals and often represent them in cases against or relating to the government.

Health law: This broad field focuses on all things related to healthcare. It includes patents and healthcare policy.

Intellectual property law: This type of law involves the protection of intellectual property by lawyers.

Tax law: Tax attorneys work closely with the tax code. They often work on tax policy and represent clients in tax matters.

Pass The Bar Exam

Most states require that lawyers graduate from an ABA-approved school of law and pass the state bar exam before they can qualify to practice law in their state. Each state has its own testing requirements, but the bar exam is usually a two-day process. Day one is used to complete the Multistate Bar Examination and day two is used for writing examinations that cover various legal topics. The state board of bar examiners will also examine the candidate's education, character, competence, and ability to represent other people in legal matters before granting full legal licensure.

Promote Your Career

Lawyers have many options to grow their careers. Assistants are the most common position for freshmen lawyers. They work closely with experienced lawyers to improve their craft. Attorneys may become partners after years of practice. Others may open their own law offices. Others may choose to go beyond the practice of law and become judges or take up public office. Further education may be available at the masters or doctoral level for lawyers. For lawyers who are interested in research-based careers, the Master of Law (LLM), and Doctor of Philosophy(Ph.D.) are common options.