How to Become a Lawyer or Attorney
A lawyer, or attorney, provides legal services to individuals, businesses, and the government. Lawyers can be experts in certain areas, such as criminal law, case work, or patent law. No matter which area of law a lawyer may specialize in, they are all expected act as both advocates and advisers for their clients.
Lawyers can find work in a variety of different settings. While some lawyers are part of a large law firms, others work for individual corporations. Other lawyers work for legal services agencies which help families in need. Lawyers can also serve as prosecutors, public defenders, city council members, or city attorneys.
Lawyer Education Requirements
To become a lawyer, you will need a Juris Doctor Degree (J.D). Most aspiring lawyers start by earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, history, business, or another related field. They then take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and enroll in law school. Law school will take up to four years to complete, and graduates will receive a Juris Doctor Degree. Graduates are then eligible to take the bar exam, and must pass to become certified to practice law.
Job Opportunities for Lawyers and Attorneys
Employment of lawyers is expected to grow 13 percent over the next decade. This could be a result of:
- Population growth
- An increase in the level of business activity and transactions
- An increase in the demand for legal services in areas like health care, intellectual property, venture capital, energy, and environmental law
Although earning a law degree takes a lot of hard work, motivation and time, salaries for lawyers tend to be very rewarding. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2008 the median annual salary for lawyers was $110,590, and the middle 50 percent earned between $74,980 and $163,320.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition