Becoming an attorney is a great option for a future career.
Attorneys represent one of two sides - the plaintiff (whoever files, initiates legal action) or the defendant (defending themselves against legal action). They give their clients legal advice on how their situation applies to the law, either state or federal. Attorneys will also plead their client's case through written legal documents, orally through mediation, or orally through court. To prepare for these cases, attorneys will often interview their potential clients to see if they are a good fit. They'll also do a lot of legal research to confirm how the law may impact their client's situation. On top of legal research, an attorney may also take depositions, attend sites, engage in evidence discovery, and more. All of this to say, of course, that an attorney's day to day may change depending on their workload.
To become an attorney, you'll need to complete a four year degree and then attend law school for 3-4 years depending on if you're full time or part time.
You'll also need to study for exams such as Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), and eventually the bar in the state you hope to practice.
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Thank you for your question. My ancestors lived in Tennessee (northeast) - I would love to visit Memphis, Nashville and/or Knoxville some time.
I am an in-house managing attorney for an insurance company, in the field of workers' compensation. As such, I have a mix of management duties, including personnel annual performance reviews, meeting with legal and claims management, and some occasional travel to our home office in Michigan. I also handle cases, which involves taking depositions and defending those set by other parties; preparing for and attending hearings; preparing reports for claims adjusters that summarize hearings or depositions; responding to inquiries from my Legal Team and from the Claims Team; preparing monthly reports; and supervising the day to day work of our attorneys and hearing representatives. (In California, non-licensed hearing representatives can appear before the Workers' Compensation Appeals Boards.)
Since I was hired to start up an in-house legal department for our company, my duties also involved hiring our team, preparing all litigation forms and pleadings that we use, and developing cutting edge strategies to attempt to gain an advantage in court and prevail over our insurance company competitors. Our goal is to resolve workers' compensation litigated cases as quickly as possible, either through a settlement or Trial.
Prior to working in the field of Workers' Compensation for the past 31 years, I spent 5 years in a business litigation firm, which involved litigating business disputes in civil court, primarily with Judge Trials, not Jury Trials. That job involved spending much more time conducting legal research and preparing and answering "written discovery" - legal documents that require parties to answer questions and produce requested documents, as well as admit or deny facts, all under oath. I began my career by spending 4 years as an insurance claims adjuster and supervisor in the areas of general liability (car accidents, slip and falls, product liability) and workers' compensation.
I highly recommend a legal career for those who love to read, write, debate, and think creatively, pulling together many diverse facts and issues. Collegiate majors in Government, History, Philosophy, English Literature and other liberal arts fields that require essay exams and writing papers, are excellent preparation for a legal career. One doesn't need to be a "Pre-Law" major. (I majored in Government.)
After obtaining a 4-year college degree, you will need to take the LSAT, attend law school, take the Bar Exam of the state or states where you want to practice law, and send out resumes to seek a permanent position as a lawyer with a firm, a governmental agency, or company that hires attorneys to work "in-house" for them, like I do. Lawyers work in civil or criminal litigation, family law (e.g., adoption, divorce litigation), "transactional" law (real estate and business deals, tax law, patent work (for the scientific-minded), incorporate businesses, draft contracts, wills & trusts etc.
Good luck to you as you complete school and figure out the best career path for you.
Becoming an Attorney is a great career. You asked "what are the primary job responsibilities as a lawyer?" Here is a pat answer which is not specific but a general overall for any lawyer:
"Job Duties and Tasks for: "Lawyer" 1) Advise clients concerning business transactions, claim liability, advisability of prosecuting or defending lawsuits, or legal rights and obligations. 2) Interpret laws, rulings and regulations for individuals and businesses. 3) Analyze the probable outcomes of cases, using knowledge of legal precedents."
This is an outline at best of what a lawyer does, but does not get into the depth of what else lawyers do. The first thing you will want to do is decide what type of law you want to practice, Family Law, Criminal, Corporate, Defense Attorney, Prosecutor, Environmental......there are a number of areas of law which you get get into.
There is a lot of material to learn and remember, you would go to 4 years of college, then apply to law schools (which are very competitive) for another 4 years depending on the area you choose. Law school can be very expensive and once you graduate, you will have to do a LOT of studying to pass your bar exam.
You sound like an individual who is not afraid of working hard to obtain that which you really want. I would start doing a lot of research first to determine what law you want to practice and once you decide that, look into Law Schools and find out their requirements and their curriculum for becoming an attorney. Don't see the requirements and let your bubble burst, keep digging, reading and ask questions of lawyers. You could go to a court room and watch a trial see what the lawyers do and if possible set up an appointment with them to "pick" their brain about becoming an attorney. If you know someone who is currently an attorney, see if you can shadow them in some of their cases. I'm not sure about FERPA, (personal privacy law) that would block personal information from you, but all you can do is ask.
Keep thinking positive as you are and go out there and conquer the legal world. You got this.
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