How to Become a Lawyer or Attorney

A lawyer, also known as an attorney, provides legal services to individuals, businesses, and the government. These legal services are intended to solve or prevent legal problems for the client. Certain lawyers are experts at handling particular types of legal situations. Some lawyers are experts in criminal law and case work, while others might focus on patent law. No matter which area of law a lawyer may specialize in, they are all expected act as both advocates and advisers for their clients.

Lawyers can find work in a variety of different settings. While some lawyers are part of a large law firms, others work for individual corporations. Other lawyers work for legal services agencies which help families in need. Lawyers can also serve as prosecutors, public defenders, city council members, or city attorneys.

Lawyer Education Requirements

Becoming a lawyer is a long but rewarding process. First, you will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Your choice of major will not affect your chances of getting into law school, but focusing on a topic of study that you may wish to specialize in may prove to be useful in the future. Many undergraduates who plan to go to law school start by earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, history, business, or another related field.

Next, students will need to attend a law school and earn a Juris Doctor Degree (J.D.).Most law schools require that you take the LSAT, or law school admissions test, as part of the application process. It will take 3-4 years to graduate from a law school program. Once you have earned your graduate level degree from an accredited law school, you will need to pass the Bar Exam before you will be able to practice law. State law may also require you to pass the Character and Fitness Evaluation test.

Job Outlook for Lawyers and Attorneys

According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of lawyers in expected to grow 11 percent over the next decade. This could be a result of:

  • Population growth
  • An increase in the level of business activity and transactions
  • An increase in the demand for legal services in areas like health care, intellectual property, venture capital, energy, and environmental law
  • Increased use of legal services by the middle class

Education is very important to becoming a successful lawyer or attorney. Competition for job positions within law firms will be tough as more and more students graduate from law school degree programs each year. Although earning a law degree will require a lot of time and hard work, salaries for lawyers tend to be very rewarding. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in May 2006 the median annual salary for all lawyers was $102,470.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-2009 Edition