What Does It Take to Be a Lawyer?

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Lawyers don’t always argue in court or represent clients. Some, for instance, go to work for the Department of Justice or other national agencies. Others work for private enterprise in a variety of occupations. The education requirements to become a lawyer take the average person seven years to complete before applying for a license to practice law.

Undergraduate Schooling

Depending upon career choice, attend an undergraduate school to obtain a four-year degree. Competition is fierce for graduate school, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and while no formal recommendations for a “pre-law undergraduate major” exist, students wishing to become lawyers need skills in speaking, writing, reading, analyzing and researching – as well as logical thinking. Because of this, the BLS recommends courses in a variety of fields, including English, government, history, economics, computer science and foreign languages.

Graduate Schooling

Choose a school approved by the American Bar Association, which includes taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) beforehand. Because so many students seek to become lawyers, law schools may evaluate the quality of your previous schooling and may incorporate a personal interview into the admissions process. In most cases, certified school transcripts, LSAT scores and college records, which include coursework grades, must be submitted with the application.

Bar Examination

Earn admission to the bar in the state or other legal jurisdiction in which you plan on practicing law. This includes passing a written examination and may also involve a written ethics examination. Some states allow admittance to their bar without taking another examination if the lawyer meets the standards of good moral character and legal experience. Qualifying to take the bar examination requires a college degree and graduation from an ABA-accredited law school. No nationwide bar examination standards exist as of 2007, but most states have the multistate bar examination as part of their overall testing process.

Other Qualifications

Besides being comfortable with public speaking, it is important that you have the ability to work well with people, the ability to analyze complex cases and familiarity with courtroom strategy and rules if looking to a career in trial work. Reasoning skills, deduction, debating and being able to research complex court law and precedent-setting cases help the young lawyer present a case more authoritatively.

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