Though the road to being a lawyer isn’t easy, by taking the right steps, you can achieve your dream of becoming one. As long as you start the preparations during undergrad, doing well on the LSAT and getting admitted to a good law school won’t be too difficult. The essential steps of being a lawyer consist of the following steps:
- Appearing in the qualification exams
- Finding the right law school
- Becoming an associate under a reputable firm or mentor.
In this article, we will be elaborating steps that you need to take to achieve your dream career in law.
- Do Well in Undergrad
To become a lawyer, the first thing that you need to do is complete your four-year undergraduate program successfully since the Juris Doctor is a postgraduate degree. The reasoning behind this is that there are multiple courses in undergrad curriculum such as English literature, international relations, history, business, sociology, economics, and linguistics, that serve as the basis of what you will study in law school. There are different types of lawyers for various scenarios, and your undergrad studies will determine which kind of lawyer you want to become.
The GPA requirements for some of the top-end law schools are quite stringent, something you want to keep in mind during undergrad. Extracurricular activities like debating and public speaking will do you a world of good in your career, so engage in them if possible. Aside from studies and extracurricular activities, a short internship in a law firm will also add value to your application.
- Ace the LSAT
LSAT is the acronym for Law School Admission Test, which is prevalent in the US and Canada, conducted four times a year. To become a lawyer in these two countries, appearing for this test is mandatory. The test is comprised of these four sections:
- Logical Reasoning: Tests analyze and evaluate arguments.
- Analytical Reasoning: Tests your ability to understand the effects of rules on decisions and their outcomes.
- Reading Comprehension: Tests your ability to draw inferences from text.
- Writing Sample: Unscored section that tests your ability to form an argument based on given facts.
LSAT is a half-day test divided into two parts that includes a multiple-choice section and an essay section. All this might sound a handful, but with a proper calendar for LSAT prep, adequate studying, and taking test prep courses, you should be ready to ace the test.
- Find the Right Law School
Once you’ve taken the LSAT exam, you will have passed a big hurdle, but your journey to becoming a lawyer is just beginning. Finding the right law school isn’t that difficult. First, you need to register for CAS (Credential Assembly Service) from LSAC (Law School Admission Council).
Once you have registered to CAS and paid a small fee, your transcripts, LSAT scores, and letters of recommendation (everything you need for a law school application) will be compiled by them and forwarded to ABA-approved law schools of your preference.
You will also need to fill up an application form as well that contains some of your personal details, which you will find here. To find out which schools your LSAT scores and other credentials are compatible with requires some research online.
Typically, you will want to get admitted somewhere that specializes in advanced courses in your chosen legal field and provides merit-based aid and need-based aid to reduce costs. The average law school charges sixty-thousand dollars a year on average minus other expenses, so financial aid can make a huge difference. Also, try to ensure that your chosen law school offers bar preparation courses.
- Make the Most of Law School
Most lawyers take three years to appear for the bar exam, which can be reduced to two if you’re diligent enough. Law schools break down their three-year curriculum in the following format:
- 1L – First-year law student
- 2L – Second-year law student
- 3L – Third-year law student
During the first few semesters, some basic general courses are covered by all reputed law-schools before moving into the specialized courses. Some of the best courses to take include the following:
- Constitutional Law: Study the issues of government structure and individual rights.
- Contracts: Through studying past court cases, you will follow the law governing system of conditions and obligations that a contract represents.
- Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure: You will learn the rules and policies for enforcing sanctions against individuals who are accused of committing offenses that have them charged with criminal violations.
- Civil Procedure: You will study the process of adjudication in the United States.
- Civil Procedure: Study the complex rules that govern us all.
- Torts: You will study the rationale behind judgments in civil cases.
- Become an Associate in at a Law Firm
Once you’re done with law school, it’s time for the big finale that is the bar exam. Conducted by the jurisdiction bar association in your respective area, this final exam will qualify you to start your own practice. The exam is held twice a year, with the test conducted over two days (three in some states). Similar to the LSAT exams, bar examinations are also split into multiple-choice and essay sections. Doing well on your bar exams is necessary as it allows you to apply to better law firms as an associate.
Law firm associates are interns who learn the ropes from senior lawyers in the firm. This is why it’s important that you find one with a culture that you can fit into. Look at ones that do a lot of pro-bono work and have a positive work environment.
Start Your Path Now to Your Future Dream
Hopefully, this article was a good outline for you in how to pursue a career as a lawyer. If you’re an undergrad student or about to start your undergrad studies, you need to assess your priorities immediately if you want to pursue this career path. Good luck in your endeavors!