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What schooling is required in order to become a lawyer?

I really do have an interest in law. I appreciate being able to present my case and the facts along with it, even if they are "alternative facts". That's a controversial statement I know, but I got a chuckle out of it. #lawyer #law-school #college

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Subject: Career question for you

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Simina’s Answer

Hi Thomas,

Happy to hear you're interested in practicing law! As others have said, the educational pre-requisites are usually: (1) 4-year degree from a college/university; (2) a combination of a good GPA/LSAT score; and (3) getting into a good law school.

Don't let yourself be discouraged by people who say you absolutely must attend one of the Top 14 law schools to have a career or that you somehow limit your career options significantly if you do not attend a T14 school. That is not true. It is true that the legal profession cares a lot about prestige and going to a top school with a fancy name gets you noticed when you're applying for jobs. That being said, I am a transactional lawyer at a big firm and I went to a Top 20 school, which added up to a lot of student loans. I have colleagues who went to schools with slightly lower ranks where they probably got full rides. I also have a lot of colleagues who went to T14 schools. We all ended up in the same place. Your law school's rank is important, but don't let that be the only thing you consider as you're applying.

You absolutely 100% do not have to know what type of law you want to practice before you go to law school. It's really good that you already have an idea of what you want to do, but be aware that is very likely to change during law school as you get exposed to so many different areas of the law that you might have never been aware of before you went to law school. People who are not in the legal profession sometimes think that law students choose a "specialty" or a field of study during law school, but that is not true. Students get a general legal education in law school and typically decide on a field to work in by trying out different jobs during their summers.

So, to summarize: look above for the educational pre-requisites, don't listen too much to other people's opinions about which school you need to go to, and don't feel like you need to have all the answers right now about exactly what field you want to practice in.
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Chinwe’s Answer

Hi Thomas! Congratulations on being proactive about your future career! To answer your initial question, you will need good grades in high school and you will need to attend a 4 year college and obtain a Bachelor's degree. People can get into law school with most majors, but while in college, you may want to think about your ultimate career goals when you select a major (don't stress this too much, life is all about change and that is okay). You will need a good GPA and it is a good idea to have some legal related internships and/or work experience to help you stand out.

As someone else mentioned, lawyers with a science background are in demand, I believe, so are tax lawyers as far as I know. Consequently, if you are interested in science, tech or accounting, that may be a good option for a college major. You can even get a Masters in one of those fields or a CPA license and then go on to law school, no need to go to law school right after college if you don't want to. Sometimes, it is even better to wait and work in a law office or court system to see what is like, before spending the big bucks on law school.

Most importantly, I suggest you really think about why you want to go to law school and what you would like to do with your law degree. Also talk to as many practicing lawyers, judges, paralegals etc. so you can get an inside scoop on what a legal career is really like. I say this to you as someone who went to law school right after college without having a clear "why." I ended up switching careers, but not before getting into lots of debt from law school. I want you to avoid that if at all possible. :-) Best of luck!

Chinwe recommends the following next steps:

Get and/or maintain good grades and a high GPA
Really think about why you want to go to law school and your ultimate career goals
Talk to as many practicing lawyers, judges, paralegals etc. so you can get an inside scoop on what a legal career is really like
Research college options
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John’s Answer

If you are going to study criminal law, you'll quickly learn why a witness must swear "to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." A lot of things can be true but not accurate -- they aren't the whole truth or nothing but the truth. If you're going to be a defense attorney, you must recognize that sometimes you will be trying to get an acquittal for someone you know is guilty. On the other hand, you have the satisfaction of defending those accused unjustly. Maybe you'd like to be a public defender. As for your question about facts, I like this philosophy that I believe comes from Alan Dershowitz: "If you are right on the facts, pound the table with the facts. If you are right on the law, pound the table with the law. If you aren't right on either the facts or the law, pound the table."
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Terry’s Answer

In the U.S., law schools accredited by the American Bar Association typically require a 4-year undergraduate degree. They are flexible as to the particular major, but good grades in a competitive college or university help.
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Richard’s Answer


To go to law school, you need to get an undergraduate degree. College grades matter to get into law school so you will want to do well. The LSAT is the law school admission test. There are prep books or you can take a course. Law school is 3 years. You can take the Bar exam after 2.5 years though and then finish school. In Texas, the Bar is offered in February and July.
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Syed’s Answer

Hi Thomas,

You'll have to attend law school after completing a Bachelor's degree. These days, law is a saturated field so schools outside of the Top 14 ranked schools (T14) won't really be worth your money and time unless you get a lot of scholarship money and want to do something less competitive (i.e. family law or public defense/government work). If you aspire to become a federal clerk/judge or a top corporate lawyer, you need to attend a top school. To get into a top school, you need a high undergraduate GPA (3.7+) and high LSAT score (90th percentile and up).
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Linda’s Answer

Thomas - as the others stated you need to have a 4 year undergraduate degree and then attend an accredited law school. Please also think about the type of law you want to practice - if you want to for example practice Intellectual Property law then the next step is to determine what field - for example biotechnology or computer technology. That will help in selecting your undergraduate degree - lawyers with scientific backgrounds are in demand for the pharmaceutical industry but if you want to be a judge or practice general law than an undergrad degree in the social sciences or political science would be more appropriate - I hope that helps - Linda
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