Many dream of becoming a lawyer; the career could be socially prestigious and financially rewarding. But the road to becoming a lawyer
is challenging and daunting for many. It requires a lot of preparation and involves successfully getting through many challenges. So if you are interested in becoming a lawyer, start planning now.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Lawyer
It typically takes a total of 7 years to complete the educational training needed to become a lawyer. This includes a four year undergraduate degree and 3 years of law school. The undergraduate degree could be in any field, and most students prefer to major in history, economics, or political science.
Getting into college
Before getting into law school, you will need to graduate from a college or university with an undergraduate degree. Getting into a college or university requires finishing high school. You will need to maintain a respectable GPA, focus on extra-curricular activities, and score well on your SAT's. If you start at a community college, ensure the classes you are taking are transferrable to a four-year college.
So You're in college, what now?
Famous law schools have a notoriously competitive admission process, so getting into college alone is just the beginning. Law school admission committees, as explained above, are not looking for applicants with specific majors. The exception may be for those applicants who are interested in studying intellectual property law. These students may need to take the Patent Bar Exam upon graduation to practice as intellectual property attorneys. Law schools prefer, and may even require such students to have an undergraduate degree in science, engineering, math, biology, chemistry, electrical engineering, or computer science. Whichever major you may choose, make sure that you maintain a respectable GPA. Also, you should get recommendations from your professors and participate in extra-curricular activities to increase your chances of getting into a law school.
Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
The LSAT is a standardized test that is required for admission into all American Bar Association (ABA) approved law schools. This exam measures your reading and verbal reasoning skills, and law schools use this to evaluate applicants' fitness to survive first year of law school. The test is administered four times a year at hundreds of locations across the country.
Choosing a law school
Before choosing which law schools to apply to, take some time out to understand the admission requirements of your targeted schools. Then based on that, make a list of schools you want to apply to. This should ideally include your preferred schools (the one you want to get into) and a safety net (the schools you know you'll get into).
This will be a three year long serious commitment, so make sure you are ready for the challenges. Law school will mean long hours and hard work. Along with maintaining an excellent academic record, you should also strive to boost your resume. This may include interning at a prestigious law firm or clerking for a judge.
Passing the bar exam
Passing the bar exam is a requirement to practicing as a lawyer. Each state requires you to pass their bar exam in order practice law there. Once you have passed the exam, you are officially licensed to practice law. The work of a lawyer requires dedication and perseverance.
Salary and career outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), lawyers earned a median yearly salary of $113,530 in 2012. Their job numbers are expected to grow at the rate of 10% faster than the average growth for all other occupations from 2012-22.
Lawyers work in many different organizations. Some work for the government as public prosecutors, in a district attorney's office, while others work with private firms, ensuring that all proceedings and transactions of the business are carried out in compliance with the law. Environmental lawyers work with environmental agencies for the protection of natural habitats against destruction; legal aid lawyers work for private, nonprofit organizations aiding disadvantaged people. In each of these cases, the skill set you possess as a lawyer is equally valid and allows you to thrive in the field.