What Education Do I Need to Be an Attorney?
If you're interested in becoming a law attorney, then you'll need about seven years of postsecondary education. To become an attorney, you must have a bachelor's degree, take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), complete three years of law school and pass the written bar exam. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Law Attorney Career Overview
Law attorneys, or lawyers, represent clients in legal disputes. In this career, you'd conduct legal research, advise clients on legal issues, prepare legal documents and argue on behalf of your clients in court. You could work in a number of different specialties, such as family law, corporate law, criminal law or tax law.
Important Facts About This Occupation
|Job Outlook (2012-2022)||10%|
|Median Salary (2014)||$114,970|
|Similar Occupations||Mediator, judge, legal assistant, post-secondary teacher|
|Key Skills||Analytical skills, research skills, public speaking, writing, problem-solving|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Individuals interested in working as law attorneys must earn a 4-year undergraduate degree in any subject, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). You need strong writing, speaking, reading and analytical skills in order to prepare for law school admission tests. You should also take courses that can strengthen your critical thinking skills, such as:
- Public speaking
- Political science
Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
As an undergraduate, you should prepare to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The BLS states that all law schools approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) require students to take the LSAT. Entrance into law school is competitive, and acceptance depends on an applicant's undergraduate coursework and grades, LSAT scores and a personal interview.
Law School Info
Law school takes about three years to complete, if attending on a full-time basis. You'll learn about legal writing, constitutional law, torts, civil procedure, property law and contracts during your first year of law school. You'll gain legal experience with practice trials that are supervised by professional lawyers and judges in your program's legal clinics. You'll also get to study specialty courses, such as corporate, education or tax law. After completing your law school education, you'll receive a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.
Law graduates with a J.D. are eligible to take the written bar exam. You must pass the written bar exam for the state in which you intend to practice. Once you pass the bar exam, you belong to that bar and are licensed to practice law in that specific state.
Some states permit candidates to take the bar exam without a J.D. degree. In these states, you may prove you are qualified to take the bar exam through alternative means.
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