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What are the different types of positions for becoming a lawyer ?

Hello! I’am 17 years old , in 11th grade and something I always said as a kid and growing up as a teen I wanted to be a lawyer every time someone will ask I will say lawyer , but as I’m getting older I’m trying to come to a realization of what type of lawyer I wanna be , The process of even being accepted , etc . Also I do have other interests in things I want to do when I’m older . #lawyer #law #law-school #college

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Subject: Career question for you


5 answers

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Desiree’s Answer

Hi Donnalisa! I'm a lawyer. First, let me level-set how a person becomes an attorney. In the U.S. you need to have an undergraduate degree (4-year bachelor's degree), and good law school admission test (LSAT) scores to get into law school. Then law school is 3 more years after you graduate from university. And, as you have probably heard, after law school, you have to pass the Bar Exam (it is really hard, but if you’ve done well in law school, you should be okay! Your study habits should be well honed by the end of law school and you’ll be ready to buckle down and study more for the Bar!).

In the U.S. there is no particular required major - or minor - for that bachelor's degree. It's pretty common for people heading to law school to major in History, Political Science, Business, or English. However, you should major in something of interest to you and in which you'll get stellar grades. Having good grades is key to being admitted to law school. So if Math or Chemistry is your passion, do that! (I am a lawyer, my undergraduate majors were Biology and Marine Science.) So don't panic about choosing what sort of type of lawyer you want to be - you have plenty of time!!!

Depending on what type of lawyer you think you might want to be, you could select undergrad elective courses to help you get familiar with particular skill sets. If you are interested in, say, criminal law, then you might consider classes about criminal justice, forensics, criminal science. If you are interested in say, environmental law, then a basic understanding of statistics, biology and chemistry will serve you well. Corporate law? Consider math, accounting, business classes. I imagine you can see a pattern forming: the law has many focus areas and you can try to tailor your study (& eventually, practice) of law so that it aligns with the area(s) of your interest. But even if you radically change paths with respect to the area of law you choose to practice, your undergrad classes won't preclude those options. At law school there is no "major" (although you can tailor your electives towards the sort of law you might want to practice).

And, at 17 you do not have to have everything figured out – your career (legal or otherwise) with evolve with your experiences, network, and interests. I went from being a scientist to becoming a lawyer, and for a time, even living in Asia & working in anti-corruption matters – I’d have never predicted that! Within the law, I went from a big law firm to an in-house legal position within a company. And within my practice, I've started with environmental law and transitioned to anti-corruption law, trade law and other specialties. Once you've become a lawyer, your career path will continue to unfold!

Not to mention that there are TONS of types of lawyers. Just to name a “few”:
Animal Rights Lawyer
Anti-Trust lawyer
Anti Bribery/Corruption (ABC) Lawyer
Bankruptcy Lawyer
Charity/Private Foundation lawyer
Class Action Lawyer
Civil Rights Lawyer
(Data) Privacy Lawyer
Elder Care Lawyer
Environmental (Govnt., Compliance and/or Toxic Tort) lawyer
Entertainment/Sports Lawyer
Estates (wills, etc)
Family law (divorces, child custody & adoptions)
Health Care Lawyer
Immigration Lawyer
Intellectual Property (IP) Lawyer
Medical (or Legal!) Malpractice lawyer
Merger & Acquisition lawyer
Personal Injury
Real estate
Tax lawyer
Workers' Compensation Lawyer
And there are attorneys out there that serve really niche roles -- e.g., protecting the NASA logo/brand in movies, advising on marketing of alcoholic beverages, asserting claims to shipwreck treasure discovered by scuba divers. For almost every career you can think of, there is some sort of corresponding legal job. Someone them you won't even know exist until you start practicing law!

Aside from just the area of law one practices, careers can look different in a few ways: (1) Clients: depending on the role, your client could be a person/persons, a company/companies or the government (at a federal, state, local or tribal level). And over the course of your career, this could change, for instance you can start at a law firm then go in-house with a company, you can clerk for a judge then go to a law firm, you can move from a small firm to larger firm, etc. (2) Litigation: in some roles you'd be expected to practice before a court (judge, sometimes jury), but in others you are more focused on advisory roles, contracts/documentation, negotiation. This could also impact how your paid: salary versus contingency (where lawyers are paid % of their clients winning verdict, after costs, should they win). (3) Salaries: different types of law have different pay scales. You can research this further on-line if you pick a few areas of the law that interest you!

Desiree recommends the following next steps:

Think about a few areas of practice that interest you, then research them online for more information. But don't sweat making a decision, because you have at least 7 years of school after High School to figure this out :)
Research your local law school admission requirements
In both High School and University, take elective classes or participate in extracurricular activities involving the field of law or key legal skills (public speaking, debat, model UN, etc.)
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Mike’s Answer

Hey Donnalisa,

That's a great question and very broad! I looked into being a lawyer for a few years while I was in high school and college so I have a few thoughts to share on the topic:

- There are a lot of different areas of law to look at. The categories typically come down to either criminal law or civil law but each have many areas of focus within them as well.
- Criminal law will typically either set you up to be a prosecutor or a defense attorney, and each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
- Civil law is incredibly broad so it can include anything from Family law, to business law, civil rights law, and the list goes on.

If you'd like to further explore careers in law, I'd recommend looking up a list of the different types of civil law so that you can get an idea of how expansive it is, and then I'd use LinkedIn to find lawyers who are in that field to see if they'd be open to having a conversation with you to share a bit about what they do. I used to do this fairly frequently and never had a lawyer say "No" to me asking them some questions about their career.

I hope this helps!
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Joel’s Answer

Lawyers have become presidents, CEOs, business owners, school leaders, activists, etc. A law degree from a good law school opens up many opportunities, but it also puts one in a position to create opportunities. I encourage you to reach out to law schools and request a tour. They have law students who will take you to classes, your facilities, introduce you to other students, and explain the basics of law school. Follow your passions!!!
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Harris’s Answer

The answers above are helpful but no one knows you better than yourself.
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Job’s Answer

There are many fields of law to practice. There is criminal law where you are either the prosecutor or defense counsel. There is civil law which has many fields in it and is simply one person or company suing another over money or contractual issues, and there is administrative law that deals with suing the government or a governing entity.
In civil law there are over 30 types of law to practice from divorce to corporate litigation. The list is too long to type out here. I would use google to search for all type of law that attorneys practice. Some you will have never heard of. I did land use, real estate and corporate disputes as a trial attorney. Some types of law require the attorney to appear in court for arguments while others are primarily writing and filing paperwork.
If you are considering a career in law I would advise getting a good handle on what you desire to practice, or a few areas so you can concentrate on them in law school.