How to Become a Lawyer

People who are interested in working on behalf of individuals or companies to provide advice and help them protect their legal rights may be wondering how to become a lawyer. While many people think of lawyers as people who defend their clients in court, this is only a small part of the work that they do.

Lawyers provide advice to clients and represent them in dealings with other individuals, as well as government agencies. They interpret laws and regulations for their clients. Part of the work performed by lawyers is conducting research and analyzing legal issues. Depending on the lawyer’s area of practice, they also draft pleadings, motions, appeals, contracts, deeds and wills.

Education Required to Become a Lawyer

If you want to become a lawyer, your first step is to complete a Bachelor’s degree before going on to law school. People from diverse backgrounds apply for admission to this graduate program, and you can choose form various areas of study for your undergraduate degree.

Some future lawyers hold a Bachelor’s degree in business or political science, while others study psychology, political science, philosophy, history or communications. Science majors who are interested in applying to law school should make a point of choosing electives which require a fair amount of writing to develop this skill.

Before you apply for admission to law school, you will need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This is a standardized test which is administered four times per year. People who are planning to apply to law school take the exam at a designated training center.

The test is made up of five, 35-minute sections. All the questions in these sections are multiple choice, but only four of the five are scored. In the final section of the test, you will be given 35 minutes to produce a writing sample. Your LSAT score is submitted as part of your law school application materials.

A law school degree takes three years of full-time study to complete. The curriculum will include courses in the following subjects:

• Civil Procedure
• Constitutional Law
• Contracts
• Criminal Law
• Dispute Resolution, Mediation and Negotiation
• Environmental Law and Natural Resources
• Family Law
• Federal Litigation
• Intellectual Property Law
• Interdisciplinary Legal Studies
• International and Comparative Law
• Labor and Employment Law
• Legal Research and Writing
• Legal Theory
• Property
• Professional Responsibility and Ethics
• Public Interest Law
• Public Policy
• Race and Gender Law
• Taxation Law
• Torts

Obtain a License to Practice Law

After you finish law school, you will still need to write the bar exams for the state where you plan to be practicing. Each state sets its own requirements for licensing new attorneys, and part of this process involves demonstrating to the admitting board that the law school graduate has the “character to represent and advise others.”

If you are wondering how to become a lawyer, the answer is that you will be attending school for seven years after completing high school (four years as an undergraduate and three years in law school) before writing the bar exams required for licensure.

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