Factors to Consider If You Want to Become a Lawyer
Have you ever watched “Law & Order” or “Suits”? If your answer is yes, then you have probably wondered how your life would be if you were one of the characters from those TV shows.
Almost every one of us who have done that imagined ourselves in a courtroom full of people, with Judge in front of us and Jury on the side, trying to convince them in our client’s innocence.
Ah, those were fun days!
And then we would think: “Hey, I want to be a lawyer, it is such an amazing profession.”
Wearing suits, putting criminals behind bars and earn a lot of money. It all sounded like a dream job for a lot of people.
Of course, not everything is as shiny as it seems.
Being a lawyer is not a catwalk, there are a lot of factors to consider, from expensive education to not always being a hero.
Sometimes lawyers get to defend criminals, rob poor people of their savings and a lot more.
It is just a part of the job, and that is why being a lawyer is not a profession fit for everyone.
That said, in this article, we will mention several factors which you should consider if you want to become a lawyer.
So stay with us if you are interested in this topic!
LONG AND EXPENSIVE EDUCATION
Now, before you become a successful lawyer and start earning a lot of money, you need to complete a very extensive and expensive education process.
Everyone knows that Law is one of the most boring subjects to study unless you are really in love with it.
There are a lot of unnecessary topics to learn and it can often be very tough to learn everything by heart.
Now if you are still interested in pursuing a career as a lawyer, then you should keep these next few steps in mind.
1. Bachelor’s Degree
In order for you to even apply to join any law school, first, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree.
You might ask what is the most suitable field to get your bachelor’s degree if you want to continue with education in Law?
And the right answer is that there is none.
Some studies show that students get accepted to law schools from almost all fields of study, but that most are coming from schools related to political science, philosophy, journalism, and economics.
So it really doesn’t matter that much.
What matters is your determination and performance at LSAT, which we will go over in a second.
Before you apply for a law school, you need to pass the Law School Admission Test, or in other words, LSAT.
LSAT is one of the most important factors included in the law school application process.
It is used to asses the person and to help people who need to decide whether to accept you or not, by testing the applicants, by testing their various skills, which could be needed for the job.
The test itself is divided into several parts, with both open and closed types of questions.
There are five questions where you are offered with multiple choices as well.
3. Choosing Right Law School
When choosing a law school, you need to consider a lot of factors, such as location, fees, accommodation, and popularity.
But there is also one crucial factor that you must consider, which is law school accreditation.
That means you should choose only those law schools who are generally accredited by specific institutions, like the American Bar Association for example.
Only law schools with proper accreditation are worthy and generally recognized, which gives you the best chance of getting a good job after you complete your education.
There are a lot of law schools to choose from, but if your aim is to become the best of the best, you should try to enter some of the most prestigious law schools.
In order to get into desired schools, both your previous grades and LSAT results will be considered, so that is why we mentioned how important LSAT is and why you should try to prepare yourself as best as possible for the test.
4. Juris Doctor Degree
Now that you have successfully applied and been accepted to the desired law school, the next logical step is getting your Juris Doctor degree or in short JD.
It is a three-year program, which allows you to specialize in a desired field of the law.
This is where you need to decide what you really want with your life.
Being a corporate lawyer and lawyer in other areas, like crime and family lawyer are completely different things.
This also depends on your previous education. If you have been studying economics, it would probably be easier for you to become a corporate lawyer.
On the other hand, if you have been studying in some other field, then other types of lawyers might be more suitable professions for you.
Everything really depends on what you really want to do, what would you like to do and what are you prepared to do, so choose wisely.
5. Bar Examination
You would probably think that after getting a JD, your education process would be over and you would be able to start doing your job as a lawyer.
But that is where you are wrong.
There are still few more obstacles to cross.
After completing all of the above, there is still one more left to do and that is passing the Bar Examination, which is the final test you need to pass in order to become a lawyer.
In order for you to work as a lawyer in a specific state in the USA, first, you need to pass the State Bar Examination. It contains two parts.
First, the applicant must pass a test formed of various law-related questions.
Apart from that, the applicant needs to solve a practical legal problem.
Something like solving a case study, if you want a simpler explanation.
After you pass Bar Examination and prove yourself as a competent and reliable person who can be trusted with a serious matter and who can make some difficult choices, you are ready to become a lawyer.
Most young lawyers first join some firms and work as a junior associates, then after some time they either advance through the ranks or join another firm where they think they have a better chance of promotion, which means better and more interesting cases.
Apart from that, some choose to pursue the career of a judge.
6. Education Expenses
A large number of tests and years of study are not the only obstacle which young people who want to become lawyers have to cross on that path.
Another very big issue can be the educational fees.
In the USA, educational fees per year can get as high as $40.000 and in some cases can reach $60.000.
With the information that average law student has a debt of around $140.000, you can get the bigger picture of how hard it must be for those young men and women and their parents, especially for those who do not come from wealthy families.
That is why it is important for them to succeed in this endeavor and become lawyers because otherwise, it would be very hard to repay this vast debt.
And even if they succeed, some may feel trapped in the circle with a job they thought they liked, but in fact, they don’t. And it can be very depressing.
That is why it is important for you to be certain about your choice to pursue a career in the law.
When it comes to the question of how much money lawyers earn, the general opinion is that amount in question is very high.
Yes, there are lawyers who earn millions and millions of dollars, but there are not so many of them, which is why the general opinion about lawyers’ salary is usually wrong.
Statistics show that the average lawyer earns around $120.000 a year. Depending on a workplace, a lawyer’s salary can vary from very small to huge.
Lawyers who work in small legal clinics generally earn much less money, because they tend to work with the general population, who, as we all know, is not among the richest upper class of residents.
Also, legal clinics often take a lot more pro-bono cases, especially to help the people who don’t have the money to pay for legal counseling.
On the other side, there are lawyers who work for big law firms.
They tend to work on a lot more interesting cases, which can bring a lot of money, especially if we talk about corporate law.
These lawyers tend to earn much more than their colleagues from legal clinics.
Another important factor when it comes to the salary is geographic location.
Lawyers from big cities usually have more cases, thus, they often earn more money than lawyers who work in small towns.
THE GENERAL OPINION OF LAWYERS
For generations, the lawyer profession has been considered as one of the most elite professions.
Fancy suits, high salary and ability to help others were the most common causes for young people to decide to pursue a career in this field.
Nowadays the general opinion of lawyers is still, more or less, the same. It is still considered a very prestigious profession by most of the people, but, of course, there are those who do not agree and have their own picture of a lawyer.
So it is the only fair thing to mention their reasons as well since after all, you should consider both good and bad aspects of being a lawyer.
Lawyers tend to be heroes to some people, yes, but it is often the case that something can go wrong, whether with the evidence or any other aspect of the case.
In that case, clients can feel like their lawyer let them down and they often blame them for losing the case, especially if it means that the client has to go to jail.
There is also the situation when criminals go away unpunished for the crimes they had committed because they had such a good lawyer who managed to remove the guilt from their way.
In these situations, lawyers are no longer viewed as heroes but as villains.
Of course, not every lawyer accepts this kind of job, some have really high moral standards, but sometimes it is not a choice, especially if the money involved is high and as we had already said, most of the young lawyers tend to have financial struggles when they start their careers.
So despite they are good people and have high moral standards, they often take that one case which would probably make them feel bad for themselves, but could potentially help them with paying their debts, because they feel there is no other way to do it.
Of course, not everything is as dark as it might seem from these sentences.
Lawyers do help people, especially those working in small legal clinics.
People who do not have enough money to pay for fancy lawyers often get represented by lawyers who have a good heart and want to prove themselves and help people.
They often accept those jobs for free or for a very small fee.
That kind of case is called pro-bono cases, which are not just useful for clients, but also for a lawyer in question.
Sometimes even the smallest pro-bono case could turn out to be a big deal and that is one of the ways for young lawyers to get some reputation and might earn a place in some bigger law firms.
WHAT ARE THE SKILLS EVERY LAWYER SHOULD HAVE?
Apart from lengthy education, there are some skills every lawyer should have.
So it is not just about having a degree on paper.
Let us see what skills define a good lawyer.
1. Knowledge of Law
The first thing that defines a good lawyer is his knowledge of all current and past laws.
Of course, it is impossible to know literally every law that has ever existed, there are thousands of them.
But it is very important to be aware of current actual laws, because it may help you find some loopholes, which could help you win the case in not so few occasions.
This is one of the most important traits of successful lawyers. It is not crucial just to be confident for yourself, but also for your clients.
Remember, lawyers are sometimes the last hope for some people, so in order for them not to lose hope and continue to fight, lawyers have to be confident and to inspire their clients to keep on fighting if there is even a small chance of winning.
Of course, sometimes it is better to make a consensus and accept the deal, but it still takes a confident lawyer who can persuade a stubborn client that accepting the deal is in his best interest.
With confidence comes the ability to be able to properly communicate with both your client and the other people, like judge, jury or simply the police.
A lawyer with an excellent communication skill could possibly change the tide of the entire case, by convincing the jury in certain things.
The way of presenting evidence can be crucial in most of the cases, so no matter you are defending or accusing someone, you need to have very developed oral skills in order for you to either positively validate evidence or manage to make it unusable by the court.
Being a lawyer is one of those jobs where every little detail matters, so that is why you have to be precise and meticulous.
You need to be careful what you write and say because even one misused word could either be turned against you or used in your own advantage if you are precise enough to find it.
Every contract, formal e-mail or just a simple conversation between lawyers and clients must be carefully conducted.
That is why it is important to have a plan before you jump to a case.
Read everything related to it, find out all the facts and be aware of every little detail, because if you could have found it, it means that your opponents can too.
5. Time Planning
One of the most difficult things to process as a lawyer is that it is a very time-consuming job.
Perhaps it is not the case when you first start working, but after a while, cases will pile up, so you will need to work much longer hours.
That is why it is crucial to plan your activities and organize your schedule to the best of your abilities, so you don’t get overrun by the amount of work.
It is important not just to organize your work schedule, but you should also try to fit some side activities as well, in order for you not to get insane.
Everyone needs to vent from time to time, so that is why having side activities matters a lot.
Take a walk, have fun with your friends, go for a couple of drinks, enjoy yourself and every job will become much easier.
6. Analytical Skills
As previously mentioned, there are a lot of laws, and with that comes a large number of information which you will get from all sides.
Some of the information may or may not be useful to both you and your clients, so that is why you, as a successful lawyer, need to be able to distinguish what is important and what is not.
To be able to do it, you need to have excellent analytical skills. It is crucial to find the information you need for a certain case, because it may turn the tide in your favor and then, combined with the skills we previously mentioned, such as confidence and communication skill that can lead to you winning the case for your clients.
7. Being Able to Work Under Pressure
Because of all the previous things we had already mentioned, to work as a lawyer means being able to handle a lot of stuff simultaneously.
That itself can cause a lot of stress and pressure.
Hence, in order for you to be a lawyer, it is very important to be a stable person who can cope with all that pressure.
There are a lot of deadlines and hard cases, which could sometimes be risky if you are dealing with the wrong type of people.
All of that brings a lot of pressure, so being a lawyer is not a job for fainthearted.
You should never allow yourself to lose the grip, especially not in front of other people, because it could hurt your case and reputation.
You should always be as calm and as confident as possible, so your clients could feel a lot safer when you are around.
In order for you to get the feeling of what it takes to become a lawyer, look at this video made by Georgie Stevenson, who shared how her life as a law student and later law graduate was.
Now that we have come to the end of our presentation, you probably have a wider picture of what it takes to become a successful lawyer.
Now you understand that it is not an easy process, in fact, it is very hard and requires a lot of hard work and persistence.
But if you are in love with the subject, nothing is too hard to learn or work, because when you love what you do, you feel happy, even if it is a work like this, which adds a lot of pressure and is very time-consuming.
So, even after reading all of this, you still want to become a lawyer, and then nothing should stop you on that path, because it means you do not quit so easily and being a fighter is what you are.
Then go ahead and live your dream!