CAREER PATHS / AUG. 04, 2014
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How to Develop a Career in Law

If you’re a logical thinker, an excellent researcher and you’ve always had a fascination with the legal field, you might make a good lawyer. However, you can’t achieve a successful career in the legal field overnight. This takes years of preparation and schooling. In fact, developing a career in law starts from high school. 

High School and College Education

You’ll need a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree before you can apply to law school. In high school, it’s important that you develop good study habits and maintain high grades. Extracurricular activities, a high grade point average, and high scores on your SAT or ACT can help you get into the college of your choice.

You should select a college with a top pre-law program, such as the Michigan State University or New York University. These curriculums include courses in legal studies, public speaking, political science, and constitutional and tax law. If your chosen college does not offer a pre-law curriculum, the best majors for law school include English, political science, biology, computer science and criminal justice. Maintain a high GPA and participate in extracurricular activities that build leadership and analytical skills, such as student government or debate. 

LSAT (Law School Admissions Test)

This is a national standardized test, and your score will determine whether you’re eligible for law school. Scores are based on a scale of 120-180. This half-day test is an indicator of how well you’ll perform in law school. The sections test your logical and analytical reasoning, as well as your reading comprehension. Law schools typically place greater emphasis on LSAT scores than grade point averages. Therefore, it’s important that you achieve a high score. If you score 160 or higher, you’ll probably be accepted to any law school of your choice. You can take the LSAT up to two times and the test is offered four times a year. Although the law school admissions test is similar to the SAT, the test is more challenging because it’s specifically for those who are college-educated.  

Attending Law School

You can apply to your proffered law school after successfully completing your LSAT. You’ll need the following information to complete your law school application:

  • College grade point average
  • LSAT scores
  • list of extracurricular activities

It takes on average three years to complete law school (four years if you’re attending part-time). Maintain a high GPA in law school, as this gives you an edge when competing for jobs upon graduation. Also, consider working in the legal field while completing your law degree. For example, you can seek employment as a legal assistant or paralegal, or perhaps intern at a local attorney’s office. Law-related extracurricular activities can also work in your favour when you’re ready to apply for jobs. 

Pass the State Bar

After completing law school, you must pass the bar exam to become licensed to practice law. Take the bar exam in the state where you plan to practice law. For example, if you graduated from law school in Virginia, but you plan to practice law in Florida, your home state, you’ll need to pass the Florida Bar Exam. After passing the bar, you can work with law firms, government agencies, military, corporations or as a law clerk for a judge. 

Bottom Line

On average, it takes about seven years to develop a career in law. And while a career in this field takes patience and determination, it can prove satisfying and financially rewarding. 

Image Credit [Flickr]

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