Legal professions were always considered prestigious and highly paid. If you google “popular professions”, you will see lawyers at the top of featured results that are used by the search engine to quickly answer the query.
There’s nothing strange here, as literature and cinema popularize it even more. Probably everyone sympathized with protagonist characters and was glad for their triumphs in highly-rated movies like “The Lincoln lawyer”, or “The devil’s advocate”. They create a romantic image of a lawyer profession that may inspire young people to pursue a legal career. In reality, though, fiction is full of myths that keep the storytelling exciting. If that’s your case, you will need to do thorough research before heading to law school and find out all the nuances, starting from the education, time to study, and job responsibilities to make the final decision.
Let’s help you with the first stage of your research and define the basic steps of becoming a lawyer:
Get a degree
First things first, you need to get a degree in law to be eligible to start your practice. Legal education differs depending on the country and state but usually, the process includes several stages. In the US, the first stage starts from preparing for the LSAT exam to be admitted to law school after getting the bachelor’s degree, where you need to study for 3 years. Add another 3 years of acquiring a Juris Doctor degree, which is required to be allowed to pass the Bar exam ( takes ~12 months), and receive the right to work as a lawyer. Usually, the full cycle takes from 7 years depending on your specialization (e.g. it may take up to 9 for becoming an immigration lawyer).
Formal education really matters and includes basic training in major skills required for law practice, but apart from the theory and classes, you will need to dedicate time to master key competencies like analytical skills, and the ability to perform thorough research, and come up with logical conclusions. Public speaking, communication, the art of conducting negotiations, and even psychology to work with witnesses will be a huge addition to your professional arsenal. There are different online and offline courses to take to improve your skills, so here the choice depends on your preferences. For improving public speaking and arguments, there are different debate clubs where you can challenge yourself and master the art of oral arguments with other students.
To start a fully-fledged law practice, you need to acquire a license. The good news is that you don’t need to wait 7 years that are required to start supervised practice to start working in the law sphere. Many agencies and independent lawyers hire people without the degree to help with some routine job tasks like preparing papers, performing legal research, helping with case investigation, and gather the document base. While it may seem to be less interesting than giving legal advice or representing someone in court, it will give you more insight into your future career.
You will need to put a lot of time and effort to become a lawyer and a bit more persistence, constant self-improvement, and experience to get a reputation as a skilled professional. And for sure, the everyday lawyers’ work hardly resembles action movies and can be monotonous from time to time but there’s always a higher cause behind choosing the lawyer profession. Helping others, defending human rights, or fight injustice are just to name a few. If you know your higher cause it gets easier to cope with all the drawbacks of the profession and find motivation in simple things. Because in the end, it may be pretty rewarding, and it’s not always about the money.