23 Sep Steps to Become a Legal Attorney (Part I)
Overview: Becoming a legal attorney isn’t rocket science if you follow the right path. Let’s find out the steps to becoming a legal attorney.
Throughout history, societies have established laws to govern their people. Without the law, there would be chaos and confusion, and the rights of the average citizen would be in peril. In ancient Greece and Rome, teenage boys would plead a legal case as part of their apprenticeship. The scenario is different today – lawyers need a great deal of training and a formal degree to practice law.
We all want to change the world, or at the least, leave our mark on it. Most of us are driven by a desire to make a positive impact. Our quest to do good motivates us to help people, provide justice, and try our best to be the hero in a room. Could the legal industry help you achieve these goals? And if so, what exactly is the legal industry and what kind of attorney should you become? Let’s explore the world of law.
What is the Legal Industry?
The legal field is one of the largest and most profitable industries – not to mention how crucial it is in our daily lives. Lawyers provide legal advice to people and represent those who have been harmed by defective products, medical malpractice, or unfair employment practices; those who are looking forward to buying a house, starting a business, or writing a will; and those who have been accused of a crime, whether they claim innocence or not – just to name just a few services legal attorneys offer.
Legal attorneys play a massive role in working with government agencies, local, state, and federal courts, and both for-profit and non-profit organizations. From labor to intellectual property, acquisition, mergers, and civil rights, there’s a long list dedicated to the legal services they may offer.
Related Reading: The importance of legal representation
Types of Lawyer Roles & Responsibilities:
The path to becoming a lawyer seems clear-cut – take the bar examination and begin practicing. But things start to change when you discover an overwhelming number of fields and types of lawyers when you’re deciding what kind of law you want to practice.
Having worked in this industry for half a decade, we suggest you opt for the type of law that appeals to your interests. If there’s one particular area of law you find intriguing, look into the roles and responsibilities related to that area and pursue your passion.
Here are some of your options:
Personal Injury Lawyer:
Personal injury lawyers work in civil litigation and represent clients who sustain an injury from an unanticipated accident. These injuries often stem from distracted driving, product liability, medical malpractice, or workplace injuries. The role of a personal injury lawyer is to investigate in-depth, and prove that the responsible party – whether a corporation or an individual — is liable for the claims and owes damages to the victim.
Personal injury lawyers follow the standard educational path – earning an undergraduate degree, completing law school, taking bar exams and fulfilling the other formal requirements. Some states will also require you to pass the MPRE — the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination — and receive a certificate.
Tax lawyers understand the ins and out of the tax industry and work in a variety of settings. From corporations to accounting firms, nonprofit organizations, law firms, and government agencies, tax lawyers have the know-how to help solve tax-centered issues. Their responsibilities include interpreting tax laws for their clients, tax planning, and researching how taxes will affect their clients.
Due to the complex nature of taxes and frequent changes to laws and regulations, tax lawyers are expected to keep up-to-date on court opinions and IRS rulings.
Related Reading: A Guide to Masters in Taxation in 2022
While family lawyers are primarily associated with a few matters, including divorce, child custody, and marital assets, family law extends to many additional issues. Any domestic-related issues like violence, child adoption, guardianship, child welfare, paternity, or delinquency matters fall under the purview of a family lawyer.
Typical responsibilities of family lawyers include writing prenuptial agreements, resolving family disputes, drafting contracts, and counseling clients on legal options – depending upon their situations.
Employment and Labor Lawyer:
Broadly, employment and labor lawyers handle relationships between employers, unions, and employees. Their work concerns negative workplace scenarios, workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, wage confiscation, pension security/delay, and wages and hour regulations. While the responsibilities of an employment lawyer and labor lawyer overlap each other at times, employment lawyers generally deal with matters concerning employers and individual employees, while labor lawyers address matters involving employers and groups of employees, including unions.
Just as in other areas of law, employment and labor lawyers are also expected to obtain the necessary degrees and certificates for their fields.
Criminal Defense Lawyer:
Criminal defense lawyers advocate for people accused of criminal activity and ensure their fundamental rights are not infringed upon. Criminal defense lawyers work as both private and public attorneys. Either way, their job is to ensure the rights of the accused. Their duty is to protect their client’s best interest within the bounds of the law.
The chances of a criminal defense attorney appearing in court before a judge and jury are higher than those of other lawyers – especially when a case goes to trial.
Several state bar associations offer criminal defense law certificates, so if you’re passionate about trials and advocacy, consider choosing this one!
What You Need to Study to Become a Legal Attorney:
There is no mandatory undergraduate path one must follow to ensure admission to law school, so you have some freedom when studying for your undergraduate degree. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that specific courses such as Political Science, English, Math, Science, and Economics increase your skills in critical thinking and are helpful to pave the way toward a career in law.
Most law schools will expect you to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) before considering your admission. The LSAT is a standardized test designed to measure your analytical thinking and logical reasoning skills. It’s a good idea to register yourself for the LSAT early – it’s announced four times per year.
To become a lawyer, you should complete the degree of Juris Doctor from a recognized university. Most states require amateurs to attend one of the 200 schools approved by the American Bar Association. Law school combines formal classes with practical examples and site visits to prepare the student for a career as a lawyer. Gaining practical experience can help you decide whether you’re going to pursue tax, civil rights, criminal defense, or corporate law.
Done with law school? Wait until we tell you that you’ve got another exam to prepare for before you start practicing as a lawyer. While the examination varies by state, the Law School Admissions Council gives a multi-state bar examination, which consists of a 200-question test. The questions come from criminal law, contracts, constitutional law, and property law.
The second day of testing will include a subjective section — writing an essay on locally significant topics. Proficient reading comprehension skills and attention to detail will be crucial to boosting your scores. That’s why we advise aspiring lawyers to take challenging classes throughout their academic career.
How We Started:
There are many decisions to be made when it comes time to choose a career. The Law Offices of William D. Shapiro started with a man envisioning his own law firm. Over the years, he proved himself by getting results, and today, with Brian Shapiro and Matthew Shapiro as part of the skilled team, we’re a well-known name among law firms with an excellent success rate and case results.
Becoming a legal attorney is a great way to make a positive impact on the world by joining a time-honored profession. By providing justice and helping people who need the assistance of a legal expert, you’ll be making a difference in your community.
Feel free to contact our award-winning firm if you need any legal advice!