Is Your Dream Job to Be a Lawyer? Five Tips to Help You
Do you have dreams and aspirations of being a lawyer someday? If you do, there are things you need to know to help you prepare for your future in law.
Make Undergrad Count
When you are in undergrad you should start to think about your future as a lawyer. While there are no specific degrees that you need to get into a good law program, there are recommended majors. Some recommended majors include:
- Political Science
- Business Administration
While in undergrad, you will also want to show you are a well-rounded individual who has the drive to succeed in law school. Join extracurricular activities that showcase your interests. Also, look into volunteering or finding work at a law firm or in a law-related field.
Ace the LSAT
The Law School Admissions Test is a standardized exam that is administered six times a year. This test is required for admission into law school and is specifically to assess key skills needed for success in law school (including reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning.
You should check LSAT registration dates before you start studying. Make sure you register ten to twelve months in advance in order to secure your test date and location. The test consists of multiple choice sections that take 35-minutes each (one is an unscored experimental section):
- Logical Reasoning (2 sections): is worth 50% of your total score. Tests your ability to analyze and evaluate arguments. You will read short passages and answer a question about each one.
- Reading Comprehension: is worth 27% of your total score. Tests your ability to make sense of dense, unfamiliar prose. You need to understand the passages’ structure, purpose, and various points of view, rather than the facts. You will see four passages, each with 5-8 questions to answer. One of the passages will be “paired passages” with questions asking you to compare and contrast the two.
- Logic Games: is worth 23% of your total score and tests you on basic logic, systems of order, and outcomes. Analytical reasoning questions ask you to make deductions from a set of statements, rules, or conditions.
- Experimental Section: is a wild card and used by the test maker to see how questions will perform on future LSATs.
- Writing sample (1 essay): isn’t scored but is sent to law schools along with your LSAT score and is frequently used as a comparison tool to confirm your personal statement or help choose between two relatively equal candidates.
When preparing and studying for the LSAT, you will want to purchase study materials and study guides. You can also find a study group or study partner or sign up for an LSAT prep course. When studying, you will need to master grammar and logic. Grammar is the language of law, and the LSATs will use it to try to mislead you. The LSAT tests your ability to analyze and decipher complicated sentences. Once you understand what the questions and answers say, you will need logic to understand how things play out — concepts like validity, conditional statements, and premises.
You will also want to practice and take as many prep tests as possible. Make sure to do real ones that are timed to give you an idea of what test day will be like. When taking practice tests, you will want to review your answers. Before grading your practice test, do a “blind review.” As you take your practice test, make sure to circle the questions you are unsure of. Once you’re done, take your time and go over each question without looking at the answer. Then when you mark your test, you will have your real score and your blind score. If your blind review score is low, then you need to work on your grammar and log.
Apply to Law School
When you start the application process to the law schools of your choice, you will want to double-check what the process is for each school. Make sure you know the deadlines and keep in mind that timing is important when applying to law school. The schools admit students on a rolling admissions process. Which means the sooner your application is in, the more quickly they can look at it and make a decision.
Your undergraduate GPA and LSAT score are the most predictive for success in law school and essential to the admissions process. In addition to your transcripts and LSAT score, your application will most likely include a fee, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, your work history, and any extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and anything that pertains to law school.
During Law School
Once you have been accepted into a Juris Doctor (JD) program, you will develop your skills to become a lawyer. The JD program is designed to help students develop legal skills and abilities in becoming a lawyer. You will develop a strong understanding of legal fundamentals concepts and theories as well as learn the history of law in the United States and how to apply it to today’s society.
During law school, you will develop analytical, research, and writing skills. You will have an opportunity to work on case studies and participate in research work. You will learn how to apply various laws to real-life legal matters as you conduct legal research for cases.
To become a lawyer, you must graduate from a law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA accreditation signifies that the law school has satisfied and sustained specific standards established to ensure a quality legal program). During law school, you will participate in internships and externships where you will work at a law firm or organization and get hands-on experience under the supervision of an attorney. This experience will give you the opportunity to polish skills not taught in law school like being argumentative, having a knack for critical thinking, the ability to negotiate or persuade, along with writing skills that are as important as speaking skills and time management.
After Law School
Once you have graduated with your Juris Doctor, you will need to take the bar exam in the state you plan to practice law in. Each state has its own requirements, and the exact format will vary as well. You can expect a two-day examination that will test you on your knowledge of legal principles and the state’s laws. The exam might also include tests that will measure your understanding of professional conduct. Most states require lawyers to take an ethics examination, the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE).
Once you obtain your license, you will find an associate-level job at a law firm. You will start your career by with more experienced lawyers and attorneys. As an associate, your job duties will include:
- Conducting research and analyzing legal problems
- Interpreting laws
- Preparing and filing legal documents
- Preparing documents for trials
- Advising clients and representing them in court
You should plan on working as an associate for six to nine years before becoming a partner in a law firm.
These five tips will help you start your journey to becoming a lawyer.