The path to becoming an attorney can be challenging at times. It is important to start on your path at an early age and learn great study habits while still in high school. According to ONET Online (a partner of the American Job center network) the following skills are essential for anyone aspiring to become an attorney:
- Active Listening
- Critical Thinking
- Reading Comprehension
- Complex Problem Solving
- Judgment and Decision Making
- Active Learning
Participation on the debate team in particular will also help develop some of the skills necessary for becoming a lawyer.
How to Become an Attorney: Undergraduate Degree
Every law school requires an individual to obtain an undergraduate degree. Most people that are choosing a career in the legal field will need to keep their GPA above 3.0. Most law schools will not worry about the particular subject area that a person majors in and choosing a subject that is particularly difficult can actually be a disadvantage as your GPA could suffer as a result.
One exception is for someone that is interested in property law. A person who wishes to practice property law will need to have a degree in math or a technical science such as computer science, electrical engineering, chemistry, or biology. The reason for this is that a property lawyer has to sit for the patent bar as well as the bar and a math or technical science degree is required for this.
While in college it is also a good idea to become friendly with a few of your professors as it will need to have their recommendation in order to get into law school.
In order to be accepted into law school a person will be required to pass the LSAT (Law School Admission Test ). This test is required for any law school that has been approved by the ABA as well as most law schools in Canada. The standardized test takes a half a day to complete and assesses an individual’s verbal reasoning skills and acquired reading skills. Law schools use this information to assess their applicants.
While this test is not necessarily the greatest measure of how a person will perform in law school, most schools place a lot of weight on these scores, near the same weight that is placed on the person’s college GPA. For those individuals who do not have a high GPA, scoring high on the LSAT can increase their chances of gaining access to law school. Many schools also use the LSAT as a factor when determining financial aid.
The LSAT is administered around the world at hundreds of different locations four times each year. Most schools will require that the LSAT be taken by the month of December in order to be admitted to law school for the following fall semester. However, it is recommended taking the test in October or June instead. LSAT Locations
Career Opportunities for Attorneys
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2013 there were 592,670 practicing lawyers across the United States with an annual mean salary of $131,990 and hourly mean wage of $63.46 per hour.
Each state has different requirements for practicing law. This is because the laws will vary from state to state and a person must be familiar with the particular laws in the state that they wish to practice in. After completing a law degree, a person will then need to pass the bar examination in the state that they wish to practice in. Once the bar exam is passed you are a certified lawyer.
So as you can see, attorney training can be a difficult. It can be much easier to find a job if you have worked as an intern at a law firm or made yourself known in the area. Graduating at the top of your class can be extremely beneficial as well.