Not many jobs can be as gratifying both personally and financially as that of a lawyer. You help people find a way out of their legal issues and get paid all the while. Some of these problems can be financial or marital or, in many cases, much more severe. But being a lawyer comes with a lot of responsibilities. Let us discuss them in brief and understand the requirements of becoming a lawyer in the USA.
Best ways to become a lawyer in the USA?
Your client’s best interest must be preserved at any cost, and you will have to protect and fight for them. The challenge thrown your way can get difficult to handle, and hence this isn’t just another job anyone can take on. You’ll need a lot of training and expertise on your way to becoming a successful lawyer in the USA. It is a difficult task, albeit achievable.
Through this article, we intend to guide you on how to become a successful lawyer in the USA, and no, we aren’t going to use any Better call Saul references, except this one.
1. Don’t let the past imprison you
Our lives must serve us lessons, and past experiences are undoubtedly our best teachers. But we must ensure that it doesn’t turn into a life sentence. We tend to become our own jailors, imprisoning ourselves by all the trauma of our past. Past events that were painful and undesired hold us captive, and we obsess over them. We have to make ourselves believe that we are not the victim and hence stop playing one.
The key to this is in our own minds. We need to make us understand that whatever has happened has and all we have to do henceforth is move on. If you have been practicing law for some time, you would have committed many mistakes that have resulted in irreparable consequences. But that should not stop you from fighting life-altering cases in the future. You must take it as a learning curve and apply all the lessons for your betterment.
2. Never stop learning
If you are going to achieve success and want to stay that way, then it is critical to stay updated in your field. With newer cases, there will be newer regulations and rulings that might change the way we perceive law. Hence you need to stay continually updated in your field unless you want to fall behind.
For instance, if you are pursuing family law and are a divorce attorney, then you must stay updated regarding anything related to divorce.
Furthermore, family, custody, children, etc., also fall under the same purview. Staying knowledge always benefits professionals, especially in the field of law and order. As we all know, knowledge is power.
3. Enhance your communication skills
Whether to a single client or judge or a jury, you’ll be required to do a lot of talking. The key is to remain calm and composed while doing it. To do that, you have to be confident about your speaking skills. To talk convincingly in front of others, you will have to convince yourself that you have sound communication skills. The red flags that you can give out if you don’t convince yourself can have adverse effects on your career.
Speaking quietly and unconfidently, stumbling for words, and sounding unconvincing are some of them. These can put a sudden halt to your path to becoming a successful lawyer in the USA.
Brush up on those communication skills and learn newer techniques to convince and win over the listener. A lawyer needs to do that time and again.
4. Learn about the different career options
Before you contemplate a legal career and yearn to achieve success in it, you will need to put in your fair share of research. It will help you estimate if you’ll truly be able to enjoy the life of a lawyer in the USA.
The Law school admission website has a Discovery law portal that can act as a valuable resource for information. It can inform you about the various contributions a lawyer can make to society and what it’s really like to be one. You can then conduct interviews with working attorneys to get a further grasp of the work culture.
Next, you can try to secure an internship in a reputed law firm. That will provide you more exposure to the world of law in the USA and hence inform you about the many career options at your disposal. Then you can make an informed decision about the same and proceed.
In a majority of the states in the USA, licensed attorneys need to have law degrees. But in a few, such as Vermont or California, you can become one without going to law schools. In such cases, you need to invest several years of training and work under a practicing lawyer’s supervision. This is commonly termed as reading the law.
Aspiring attorneys hardly choose this path in present times, but it is also a valid approach. You decide beforehand what your approach is going to be so that you have a very definitive career path in front of you to pursue.
5. Involve yourself in extracurricular activities
You can also try out courses in social science courses that enrich your social awareness and teach you people’s skills. Analytical courses in philosophy, engineering, or technology can also sharpen logical reasoning skills, which is a vital component in this profession.
Engage yourself in a variety of mock trial teams or debate and speech teams. This will help you understand where you are with your skills. Extracurricular activities will expand your outreach and equip your ability to convince and argue. Aspiring lawyers have to dramatically explain a lot to other people, which requires a certain level of skill sets. Involve yourself in any performing arts and enhance your oratory and acting skills to emphasize more when speaking in public.
6. Prioritize your LSAT and get into a good law school
The LSAT is the old-school way of becoming a lawyer in the US. The Law School Admission Test is an entrance exam that allows you to recognize yourself as a lawyer. All aspiring lawyers need to take this test to qualify for law school. There is another option, however, which is the Graduate Record Examination or GRE. Many modern law schools have started allowing GRE scores instead of the LSAT. But it is imperative that students prioritize their LSAT and prepare well for it. A strong test score in your LSAT will enhance your odds of getting a great law school. So, unless you plan to ditch law school and decide to read the law, you must study hard and strive for a good LSAT or GRE score.
Taking admission to a good law school can be a challenging task as some of the law schools are highly selective. They not only consider your test scores but also evaluate your resume and personal statement. It is prudent that a future lawyer must attend a law school. A full-time law program lasts for three years. The first year of the course is highly rigorous. A law degree is essential before you go to take your state bar exam.
7. Write the MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination)
MPRE is nothing but an ethics exam. It is a prerequisite for taking the bar exam. The paper consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. NCBE develops and offers this 2-hour examination three times a year. One can sit for the MPRE in the third year of law school.
8. Pass the bar exam
If you’re planning to become a lawyer, let me tell you that passing the bar examination in the jurisdiction is essential. One must get admitted to the bar where an upcoming lawyer can practice. Lawyers who pass the exam receive a license to practice law. The bar examination is not easy. In some of the states in the USA, 40% is set as the passing rate. Hence, you can put an idea of how tough the bar exams are. The pattern of the question paper consists of multiple-choice and essay questions.
These are necessary to evaluate your knowledge of state law. Bar examination determines if you are eligible to practice law. Hence, one must indulge themselves in several months of studying for the test. The major goal of taking the bar examination is not to get good grades but to learn the law.
9. Building a strong professional and personal network
Cultivating and building a strong professional and personal network in your lawyer tenure ship is important. Professional colleagues and mentors can help you by giving the correct guidance and advice. Hence, a diverse network of relationships can help in achieving. You can build your relationships with former law school classmates as well as members of the local bar associations.
Always remember to put your ego aside. This will help you to open up to reasonable and creative solutions. We all know that the legal industries are changing and evolving in many states of the U.S. Hence, you need to keep yourself updated. Learn to forge through difficult cases and adopt effective and efficient processes in servicing clients.
10. Applying for jobs
The last and most important steps of becoming a successful lawyer are applying and finding the right job. After you’ve passed the bar examination, you have been certified to practice law. Therefore, you should focus on applying for jobs at various law firms. Lawyers also get different job options and have the choice to practice in government, private, non-profit organizations. They can also work as district attorneys, a public defender, or an in-house counsel for a corporation. Salaries vary by industry, employer, and sector. Hence, a corporate lawyer can earn more compared to a public defender.
Given below is a list of various types of law that one can practice becoming a successful lawyer.
- Corporate law: A J.D. degree from a top law school is essential for getting a job in one of the corporate law firms.
- Business law: If you are planning to practice business law, it is advisable to have an MBA degree along with your J.D. degree. This can help you to be more marketable compared to someone who holds only a J.D.
- Patent law: Attorneys practicing patent law must hold a master’s or bachelor’s degree. It is important to pass the patent bar examination conducted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
- Health law: A J.D. along with a master’s degree in public health can help you become a health attorney.
Always remember that acquiring appropriate education is important in becoming a successful lawyer. Integrity is the foundation for a lawyer’s character. A lawyer should be honest and ready to take responsibility. Maintaining integrity as a lawyer can enhance your beliefs, ethics, and values. You need to carry an enthusiastic and energetic attitude. This will demonstrate your interests in your clients as well as your firms. Never allow fear of failure or self-doubt to take over you. Apart from that, a lawyer must work on various qualities to become a successful lawyer.
- Lawyers must have good research skills as it will help them to provide free legal resources and appropriate legal advice. They can find suitable laws and regulations that are applicable to a particular matter.
- Having the respect and confidence of the clients can help a lawyer to build a trusting relationship. Strong interpersonal skills make your client comfortable and allow them to share personal information.
- Law is all about fighting for justice. Hence, you need to be ready to resolve your client’s problems and issues. Cultivating analytical skills help you analyze, determine, and propose a viable solution in your case.
- Writing and speaking skills are essential for becoming a successful lawyer. Not able to communicate properly with your client is a drawback.
Becoming a lawyer in the US and entering the legal profession requires a lot of ambition. Lawyers can help in bringing a change in the world. No matter how big or small a case is, helping others through your legal profession will always bring great satisfaction.