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The path to becoming an attorney isn’t a short one, and it certainly isn’t simple. If you’re thinking about going into law, then you know you’ll be committing quite a few years to the process of getting there. Find out what lawyers do, how to become one, and how much you can expect to earn.

What A Lawyer Does

As a lawyer, you will be hired to legally represent an individual, a corporation, a business, or some other type of entity within a court of law. You may have specialized in an area like immigration, divorce/family, business, or the many other areas of the field.

  • You are your client’s advocate and/or advisor.
  • You supervise your support staff, made up of interns, paralegals, law clerks, and others employed under you.
  • You advise clients in their private and/or legal matters.
  • You research and analyze other cases relevant to those you’re working on.
  • You are able to present facts and argue the case in front of the court or other governing bodies on behalf of your client.
  • You interpret past rulings, and laws and regulations.
  • You prepare written documents such as briefs.

Your duties will be dependent on what type of attorney you are, and what type of law firm you’re in.

You’ll work with the government, in a law firm, on retainer with a corporation, or as a self-employed lawyer.

How To Become A Lawyer

Maybe you’re just fulfilling your destiny, coming from a long line of lawyers, or maybe you are thinking that becoming an attorney is just a good way to support yourself. Whatever your reason, you have decided to become a lawyer. Here’s what you’re going to need to do:

  • Graduate high school or get your GED.
  • Get your bachelor’s degree. It could be in pretty much anything; it just has to be completed.
  • Take the LSAT. This is a necessary step before being accepted to law school. Just like when you took the SAT or ACT, certain law schools will expect certain LSAT scores.
  • Complete your three years of law school to earn your Juris Doctor degree.
  • While you’re still in law school, find a job as a law clerk, which is like having an internship.
  • Take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), which is the lawyer code of ethics exam.
  • Take your state Bar Exam. And, if you have to, take the Bar Exam again—only about 40 percent pass it on the first try.

The Bar Exam will allow you to practice in the state you took it in. Some states have reciprocity in other states. However, if you plan on practicing law in more than one state, then expect to take more than one Bar exam.

Salary And Job Outlook For Lawyers

Once you’re practicing law, you’ll be working more than the typical 40-hour work week. It’s not uncommon for lawyers to work evenings and weekends, especially when in the thick of a case. The average salary for lawyers was $163,770 in 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

If you own your own firm, you may make less than you would as a partner in a firm. But, it’s also not uncommon for attorneys to be self employed. You will have to do what works best for you.

The BLS also predicts that by 2031, employment for lawyers will increase 10 percent, which is faster than the national average. Competition will be strong: Many students head into law school on a regular basis. This means that there will be more lawyers looking for an associate position at a law firm than there will be availability. Willingness to relocate may be necessary.