Law is a profession which requires a lot of hard work, dedication, research, patience and perseverance. The steps to be a lawyer may be arduous, but it is a highly rewarding career option. If anyone needs legal advice, it's a lawyer who is hired to fight the case. Lawyers are needed in every sphere of life, be it while buying a home, making legal documents, or even to start a business. There are numerous steps for becoming a lawyer which are described in the following sections of this CareerStint article.
Getting a bachelor's degree is the first step in becoming a lawyer. It has to be a four-year degree course, not an associate degree. Try choosing a major which develops your skills and will be required for a profession in law. A lawyer requires professional writing skills, analytical skills, and critical thinking―so it's always better to choose a subject which hones these skills. Courses taken up in English, history, government, economics, public speaking, and mathematics are useful.
The grades scored in the bachelor's degree are also important for admission to a good law school. It's a general perception that a person who can't get good grades while in an undergraduate course, won't be able to do well in a law school. Though there are other factors also which determine the final GPA, grades indicate the priority of studies in a person's life.
Research on Law Schools
One of the most important steps is to do thorough research about varied law schools in the country. You need to review the qualification criteria required for getting into them and the like. Each school has a different set of criteria and curriculum, so you need to know exactly what is expected such that it will help you prepare in advance. Look through the opportunities offered and the kind of project work that you will be required to do.
Take the Law Test
The test that a graduate needs to take to enter a law school is the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). It's a standard test undertaken to measure the logical reasoning and analytical skills of a student, besides skills of reading comprehension. Moreover, the writing skills of an individual are also measured. All in all, it measures an applicant's aptitude to study law.
Get Admitted to a Law School
For every law school, the deadline for application is different. Once you get the results of LSAT test, and you get the minimum qualifying marks, make sure you apply well in advance. Apply in three or four colleges, so that you stand a better chance of getting admitted in at least one of the colleges. Write down the important dates and deadlines so that you don't miss the deadline.
The next step to become a lawyer is successful graduation. Usually, it takes three years to complete a law degree, if you opt for a full-time course. In case you opt for a part-time program, it would take four years to complete the program. During your first year, you will have to go through the rigorous program of law, which would require you to research and read about law. The reason for such a rigorous program is to accustom students to constantly think in terms of law. The first year is spent in familiarizing with the legal terminologies and laws related to acts of negligence and wrongdoings. Moreover, other laws covered include civil procedure law, constitutional law, criminal law, and property law. In the second and third year, students have an option of choosing courses based on their interests. Throughout these years, students get a chance to argue in mock trials, write legal documents, and participate in court activities.
Passing the Bar Exam
The next step to become a lawyer is to pass the exam conducted by the bar. This exam determines whether a law graduate is qualified enough to practice law. Each state has a different agency which administers the test. If you want to practice law in a particular area, you have to take the test conducted by these agencies.
Passing the Fitness and Character Test
Once you have cleared all these steps to become a lawyer, next, you need to pass the fitness and character test. This stage is quite intrusive and checks the person's background. And if you fail in this test, you will not be admitted into the bar.
Once the bar permits you an entry, you need to apply for a license to the responsible authority of the state. After the application is granted, he or she takes an oath, in which the applicant promises to follow the rules of law. In some states the license should be renewed, which requires continuous education so that the lawyers are abreast of the latest changes in law.
The steps for becoming a lawyer in Canada are similar to the steps to being a lawyer in America. The only difference is that in America, once you pass the bar exam and the character and fitness tests, you are eligible for applying for a license. On the other hand, in Canada, once you have completed the steps for becoming a lawyer mentioned above, you need to finish a period of articling and after that, pass the course and exam set by the bar. This means that you have to invest at least 6 to 8 years for the whole process.
Becoming a lawyer is a long-drawn process and requires you to be patient, besides being determined, but it is definitely a rewarding career option.