Careers in Law
How to be a Lawyer
What do the men in black REALLY do?
A lawyer is a person who represents clients in legal situations, like in court, or advise them on legal transactions. Some lawyers specialize in one area while others practice many areas of law.
Here some examples of different kinds of lawyers:
- Criminal Lawyer
- Defense Attorney
- Environmental Lawyer
- Corporate Lawyer
- Divorce Lawyer
Lawyer vs. Attorney
All attorneys are lawyers, but not all lawyers are attorneys. This concept can be really confusing for some people, usually only the people working as an attorney or lawyer will understand the difference. To give a brief explanation, a lawyer is someone who studies the law, like studying in a law school. A lawyer must pass the bar exam to legally be able to practice it. An attorney, or an attorney-at-law, is a person that you would see defending someone else in court.
Going to school
To become a lawyer, you must first get a bachelor's degree, this takes 4 years. Undergraduates are advised to take courses like english, government, history, and economics. The next step would be to take the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. This test determines if you can proceed to law school. A good score is a must. The next 3 years will be spent in law school. Things you should study include constitutional law, contracts, property law, and legal writing. Afterwards, you will be awarded your juris doctor. The next step would be to study for the bar exam.
The Dreaded Bar Exam
The bar exam varies from state to state, if you want to practice law in multiple states, you would have to take the bar exam in each state. You must pass one or two exams, it will be approved by an admitting board. Passing the bar requires vigorous studying, which means you'll have to be very dedicated. Even after all that, you may still need to continue your education. 45 states require lawyers to continue their legal education throughout their careers, so in a way, you really never stop learning!
Learning to work with one another
Lawyers can choose to either start their own law firm or join one. Either way, being in a law firm requires a great deal of collaboration. For a example, in a global law firm there could be about 700 people working there. Which means you have to work together with other lawyers, paralegals, secretaries, etc. More importantly, you have to work with your clients, the people you are going to work for. Lawyers typically meet with around 5-20 clients per day. When they have a question about the law they would ask you! This also means you would have to memorize their legal problems and create the best solution.
LitigatorsWhen people think of a lawyer, they usually picture a lawyer defending someone in court. This is a litigator, they use communication by creating the best defense to present to the judge. Meaning they have to speak clearly and confidently.
Transactional LawyersLawyers that specialize in this area help their clients create documents that will help make money for their company, sell their company, or collaborate with other business while continuing their own. Lawyers in this category will probably never spend a day in court.
As you can see, lawyers need a great deal of communication skills to talk to clients and solve their legal problems. Being a charismatic person doesn't hurt either.
Think like your career depends on it
As stated earlier, it is your job to listen to your client's legal problems, and since lawyers typically see around 5-20 clients a day, and since they can have multiple problems you have more than 500 problems to memorize and work out. This is where critical thinking comes to play. You have to think on your feet, find the issue and resolve it. You must be efficient, but you still need to give good legal advice. There's no simple solution, but that's why the clients call you, the lawyer, because your the one that specializes in complex legal situations.