Civil Rights Attorney Education Requirements

Find out what education is required to become a civil rights attorney. Read on to discover how you can step into this career and what you will be expected to do in the role. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At A Glance

Civil rights or human rights attorneys have studied law with a concentration in civil rights or taken specialized courses in that area of the law. They have then passed their state's bar examination so that they are qualified to work within the court. Take a look at the table below for more information about this career.

Education Required Doctoral or professional degree
Education Field of Study Law
Licensure Bar Examination
Skills Required Analytical, problem-solving, research, public speaking
Job Growth (2016-2026) 8% (for all lawyers)*
Median Salary (2017) $119,250 (for all lawyers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Is A Civil Rights Attorney?

Civil rights or human rights attorneys are lawyers who work closely with the fourteenth amendment's equal protection clause to ensure equality within legal means. They work to defend a just and fair society by addressing issues in the legal world which relate to civil rights and fairness among everyone. Civil rights attorneys can work in a range of different organizations, such as non-profits or government agencies, along with public interest law firms.

What Happens After My Bachelor's?

After completing your bachelor's degree, you will need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and apply to law school. You do not need to have a major in a specific field to apply for law school, but areas such as English, math, government, economics or history may prove useful. Once you have taken the LSAT test, you will send your scores and undergraduate transcripts, among other required documents, to law schools that specialize in civil rights. Make sure your law school is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Do I Need A License?

Attorneys work in courtrooms as lawyers, meaning that they need to pass the bar examination to become licensed. Each state has varying rules and regulations regarding 'passing the bar,' but these usually include at least one bar examination, along with graduating from an ABA-accredited school. If you want to work in a different state, you will usually be required to 'pass the bar' for that state, as well.

How Long Will It Take To Qualify?

Most prospective lawyers, in all fields, undertake seven years of post-secondary education to become qualified in their field and ready to work. After completing four years of undergraduate study, typical law school courses last for three years. From there, students can take the bar examination which, once passed, allows them to practice law in the courts. During your time at law school, it may be possible to focus on a specific area of civil rights by taking part in clerkships or internships with those who specialize in those areas.

What Happens Once I'm Qualified?

Once you're qualified, you will still be required to engage in professional development and training, either every year or every three years, depending on the state in which you work. This is so that all legal professionals, such as attorneys, are kept up-to-date with changes and advancements within their field. Newly graduated attorneys usually initially work as part of a team with more experienced lawyers. Once they have gained enough experience, it is not uncommon to take partial ownership of the legal firm or go into practice for themselves.

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