Tips for Starting Your Legal Career
A legal career is both challenging and rewarding in many ways. The legal profession gives you a multitude of career options, provides financial stability, and allows you to make a difference in the lives of those in need. Below are some tips for starting your legal career.
Types of Legal Careers
From a personal injury attorney to an entertainment law paralegal, there are legal careers in every sector imaginable.
Lawyers are those who engage in the practice of law. Practicing law involves counseling and advising clients of the implications of the law on their particular set of facts or situation. Lawyers also represent their clients in negotiations and in court.
How to become a lawyer
There are many steps to take when pursuing a career as a lawyer. How long it takes to become a lawyer depends on how long each stage of the process takes you.
Go to law school or read the law as a legal apprentice
First you need to decide if you want to attend law school or read the law as a legal apprentice.
Law school admission requires an undergraduate degree and either a Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score, depending on the school’s requirements. Generally, law school takes three years to complete.
Some states do not require you to attend law school to be a lawyer. Rather, you spend several years as an apprentice training under the supervision of an attorney. This is known as reading the law. This is not a popular option and likely will take longer than attending law school.
Take the bar exam
If you decide to practice law, you need to pass the bar exam in the state or states you wish to practice. Typically you spend two to three months studying for the bar exam and wait another three months for your results.
It also may take more than one try to pass the bar exam. In 2018, the bar pass rate for first-time takers was 74.82%.
Find a job
The last hurdle to becoming a lawyer is finding a job. Some tips to facilitate your attorney career search are to use the career services office at your school and reach out to alumni.
Paralegals are trained professionals who assist lawyers in different ways, such as conducting legal research, drafting and filing court documents, reviewing records, managing files, interviewing witnesses, communicating with clients, and preparing for trial.
How to become a paralegal
There are several academic credentials you can earn to enter into the paralegal profession. You can get your associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or post-baccalaureate certificate. Each employer has different requirements, but you do need some sort of formal training. U.S. News has a useful article on the paralegal profession.
Legal Career Tips
If you are an aspiring lawyer or paralegal, here are some legal career tips.
Learn About the Legal Field
Before you pursue a legal career, do your research. The Law School Admission Council website has a valuable resource called Discover Law, which provides information on different fields of law and types of law programs.
Meet with legal professionals in a variety of law fields to understand what that role entails. You want to build your network of legal professionals early on since these people will serve as your mentors and referral sources for years to come.
A legal career is incredibly stimulating, time consuming, and fulfilling. If law is your passion, do not give up. When it gets tough, remember why you started.