Becoming a lawyer can be a noble and exciting goal. Lawyers are reasonably well paid well and they wear nice suits or other fashionable clothing to work, but it always looks professional.
Lawyers put criminals in jail, help people get divorced, stop domestic abuse, help people with labour problems and a lot of other things; and after the end of each workday, they feel tired but good because they have helped people. On the other hand, some lawyers also defend criminals and other types of people they feel are possibly guilty and they don’t enjoy that. But, as the saying goes, it’s all part of the job.
To be a lawyer, you will need to be made of steel and have a deep pocket to succeed in the legal profession. With that said, not everyone is fit to become a lawyer.
There are several factors you need to consider if you want to become a lawyer:
Before you become a lawyer and start earning big bucks, you need to complete a long and expensive education.
Your law studies will be filled with what you consider to be boring subjects with unnecessary topics. It can be tough to read all those books and memorize all the laws. Not to mention the many years you have to study to eventually become a lawyer. If you are still interested in becoming a lawyer, the following are what you need to accomplish.
Finish a four-year Bachelor’s degree. Law schools only accept those with a Bachelor’s degree. There is no required major to enter law school. Some studies, however, claim that many graduates of Political Science, Journalism, Economics, and Philosophy have higher chances of getting accepted to law school. Choose the Bachelor’s degree you feel will give you the best GPA.
Take the LSAT. You need to pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) before you can apply to any law school. Law schools will use your LSAT school to assess whether to accept you or not.
Choose a Law School. In choosing a law school you need to take into consideration fees, location, accommodation, and accreditation. You need to choose law schools accredited by the American Bar Association to get better chances of getting a good job after graduation. You can also choose to enroll in one of the prestigious law schools to be the best of the best.
Complete your Juris Doctor Degree. This is a three-year program where you will specialize in your desired area of law. This is also where you will decide if you will become a corporate, criminal, family lawyer or other areas of law.
Take the Bar Examination. The journey towards a legal profession does not end once you have completed a Juris Doctor degree. You still need to pass the Bar examination so you can practice law in a specific state in the US.
The cost of studying to become a lawyer is an important aspect you need to consider. Lawyers need to be in school for at least 7 years – 4 years for a Bachelor’s degree and 3 years for law school. If you wish to have a Masters in Law, that will be an additional year.
4-year Bachelor’s degree. You can either choose to pay per semester or per-credit rate. Tuition fees (2017-2018 school year) for a 4-year course could run up to $34,740 in a private college. Public universities for in-state students can cost $9,970 and $25,620 for out-of-state students. You should also expect an average yearly price increase of about 3% for public colleges and 2% for private colleges.
The cost of room and board raises the average cost of college. On average, an in-state or out-of-state student in a public school pays about $10,800 and about $12,210 when enrolled in a private school.
Law School. A law student should be spending about $72,000 after completing a 3-year law degree. Adding in the cost of room and board, transportation, books, and other expenses, the figure could run up to about $140,000.
These figures can be overwhelming for students and their parents, especially for those who do not have wealthy families. Federal and private student loans are available though and need to be repaid with interest.
It is therefore important that you are certain that you want to be a lawyer. If you are, you need to work hard to succeed to recoup the expenses especially if you need to pay for student loans.
The studying and reading that will be required from you for your law studies is a far cry from college. In your three years in law school, your life will revolve around reading lists, study groups, writing briefs, memorizing laws, and preparing for every class. The Socratic Method of Learning can be extremely tough.
After completing your 3-year Juris Doctor degree, you will still need to take the Bar examinations. After passing the Bar Exams, you are then ready to become a lawyer – a reliable and competent individual who can be trusted to make difficult choices and with serious matters.
Being a lawyer is more than just completing your Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor Degrees. If you want to succeed in the law profession you will need to equip yourself with these skills:
Knowledge of the Law. You need to know past and current laws. Knowledge of the law is the lifeline of lawyers, the law is their bible.
Excellent Communication Skills. You need to have good oral skills to be able to present the case in court whether you are accusing or defending someone. Good communication skills will also enable you to better help your clients because they will understand everything you tell them.
Exude Confidence. A lawyer is often the last hope for many people. You need to feel and look confident at all times to keep your client’s hopes up even if you both have a slim chance of winning. A confident lawyer will also be able to convince a client that accepting a deal, even if he at first refuses to, is his best option and in his best interest.
Meticulous and Analytic. Every little detail matters. A lawyer needs to be careful about what he says and writes. A misused word may turn to the disadvantage of the client or be misunderstood. This is the reason lawyers are trained in law school to be meticulous, and analytic. It is crucial to pinpoint the information that could work for or against a client.
Organized and Precise. The law profession is an extremely time-consuming job. You will need to work long hours to get the piles of cases and paperwork done. You need to be organized so you do not miss out on anything. You will also need to have an organized schedule.
Good time management is one of the keys to be successful in the law profession. While you will be deluge with a pile of work, you will need some time to have some fun with friends and engage in other activities outside of the law profession to keep you sane.
Ability to Work Under Pressure
A lawyer is forever under a lot of pressure and stress. However, you need to be able to cope with pressure and stress. A lawyer’s job is not for the fainthearted. You should always look confident and should never lose your grip as it may hurt your reputation and the case you are working on.
The general opinion is a good lawyer earns well. Some lawyers earn millions of dollars a year. There are also lawyers whose earnings fall short of repaying their law school student loan. Studies show than an average lawyer approximately earns around $130,000 a year.
The earnings of lawyers vary depending on whether they work for small legal clinics, a big law firm, or have a solo law firm. A lawyer’s earning also varies depending on the area of law they choose to work on. A corporate lawyer for a big company will have high earnings.
Being a lawyer is not a walk in the park. When deciding to pursue a career in law, take into consideration the items mentioned above.