Interested in pursuing a career as a lawyer? You can provide legal advice and advocate on behalf of individuals, companies and governmental agencies in a court of law. You can also work behind the scenes to ensure that your employer complies with federal, state and local law.
This guide walks you through the step-by-step process to become a lawyer.
- Lawyer Overview
- Steps to Becoming a Lawyer
- Courses Related to Preparing for Law School
- Prepare for a Rewarding Career as a Lawyer
Before you launch your law career, it’s vital to understand what the role entails. You should also have an idea of the educational requirements, average salary and job outlook for the profession.
Lawyers consult with individuals, government agencies and organizations regarding legal matters. In this role, you will also research and interpret laws, regulations and rulings and communicate your findings to clients. Other responsibilities include:
- Representing clients in the court of law
- Filing lawsuits on behalf of clients you serve
- Managing legal assistants, legal secretaries and paralegals
- Preparing and filing appeals, contracts, deeds and other legal documents
You have several career paths to choose from. Work as an environmental lawyer, government counsel, in-house counsel or public-interest lawyer. You can also specialize in a particular field, like family law, environmental law, intellectual property law, securities law or taxation, notes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As a lawyer, you will work in an office setting, at client sites and in the courtroom. Expect to work 40 or more hours per week.
According to the BLS.gov, the median annual salary for lawyers in May 2019 was $122,960.
Here’s how it breaks down for the top industries that employ lawyers:
- Federal government: $144,300
- Legal services: $123,620
- Local government: $95,870
- State government: $89,090
You will need to attend law school and earn a Juris Doctorate degree before you can sit for the bar exam and start working as a lawyer. But before you can even think about law school, you must earn a bachelor’s degree and take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
Expect to spend 4 years working towards a bachelor’s degree and 3 years in law school.
The projected growth rate for lawyers is 6% through 2028, notes BLS.gov. This is 1% higher than the average pace for all occupations.
Steps to Becoming a Lawyer
Take these essential steps to become a licensed lawyer in your state.
1. Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
The first step toward becoming a lawyer is obtaining your bachelor’s degree. You don’t have to limit yourself to a particular major but it’s best to choose an option that helps you polish your communication, analytical, problem-solving and writing skills. Also consider schools that are both reputable and accredited.
If you can, complete an internship with a law firm to gain real-world experience. You can also seek out mentorship opportunities with professors who’ve worked in the legal field.
After you earn your bachelor’s degree, the next step is law school. Each institution has a list of requirements that applicants must meet to be considered for entry. Your undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores will also be evaluated to determine if you’re a good fit for the program.
Admission to law school is highly competitive, so it’s in your best interest to put your best foot forward during your undergraduate studies. You may want to consider a prep course to prepare you for the LSAT exam to give yourself the best chance at an exceptional score.
2. Attend Law School
The next step in the process is to attend law school. Most Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree programs span 3 years and prepare you for the bar exam. Only consider programs that are accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).
3. Take the Bar Exam
Before you can receive a license to practice law in your respective state, you must be admitted to the bar. This can be done by passing the bar exam and meeting the character standards set forth by the admitting board in your state.
Want to practice law in several states? You must pass the bar exam in each state that you wish to work in.
Once you’re working in the field, you must earn continuing education hours to keep your license to practice law in good standing. Continuing education requirements vary by state.
Courses Related to Preparing for Law School
Here are some useful courses to help you prepare for law school.
1. Law School: Learn to Think Like a Lawyer
Get a sneak peek at what you’ll learn in law school. Led by Shane Irvine, lawyer, this Udemy bestseller takes a look at the legal system and teaches you how to think like a lawyer. He covers contracts, criminal law, criminal procedure, civil procedure, evidence, family law, property law, wills, trusts, probate, corporate law and more. Grab a seat in this course to unlock full lifetime access to 20.5 hours of on-demand video and 22 downloadable resources.
You’ll also receive a certificate of completion when you reach the finish line.
2. Deciding on Law School
Still undecided about law school? If you’re leaning toward a career as an attorney but have reservations, this course is right for you. Deciding on Law School is led by licensed lawyer and entrepreneur Adam Pascarella. It is comprised of 6 modules:
- Thoughts, Justifications and Rationales
- Career Options and Current Market Conditions
- Costs and Debt
- Researching Law Schools
- Are You an Attractive Candidate?
- Next Steps and Conclusions
Register today for instant access to 4 hours of on-demand video, 6 articles and 6 downloadable resources.
3. Nova’s LSAT Prep Course
The LSAT can make or break your chances of being admitted to law school. If you’re worried about the dreaded entry exam, consider this in-depth course from Udemy. It consists of 403 lectures jam-packed into 6.5 hours of on-demand video and 45 articles that will help you perform well on the LSAT if you put in the work. Facilitator Jeff Kolby is the founder of Nova Press, a series of best-selling test prep course workbooks.
Prepare for a Rewarding Career as a Lawyer
Now’s the perfect time to prepare for your law career. Start by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program and excelling in the classroom to earn a high GPA that impresses potential law schools.
Consider our online course options to help you decide whether becoming an attorney is ideal. We’ve also included a class that gives you a closer look at what to expect on the LSAT exam.
Southern New Hampshire University Online
SNHU Online Offers:
- Flexible schedules
- Affordable tuition
- Online tutoring
- Access to electronic research materials
- Specialized academic advising
- Supportive online community