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Imagine becoming a top lawyer especially when law schools are churning out thousands every year. The competition is tough, no doubt about that. But the question remains, what is it that makes them stand apart from their colleagues?

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The following list includes recommendations that could separate good lawyers from the not so good ones.

1. Do well in high school and college

It is a no-brainer that those with good grades are more likely to end up in a good law school than those with a less than impressive GPA. However, being good in academics alone is not enough. Lawyers are one of the most versatile professionals who draw skills from various social and extra-curricular activities. Therefore, participating in those debating competitions and acting workshops may go a long way in helping you think on your feet while at law school and later in front of a judge and jury.

2. Complete a 4-year undergrad degree

All American Bar Association (ABA) approved law schools require applicants to be graduates or be in the process of graduating with a 4-year college degree. Most law schools do not require a specific major. Graduating with a good GPA, greatly increases the likelihood of an applicant’s admission in a good (read Ivy League, if you wish) law school.

3. LSAT score matter a lot

In addition to graduating with a good GPA, law school applicants need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). A good score, coupled with an impressive GPA can almost guarantee an applicant’s admission into his/her dream law school (think Harvard). Scoring highly on the exam is easier said than done, though more than a handful of LSAT candidates score perfectly on this exam.

4. Establish and maintain cordial working relationship with a few college professors

For one simple reason, if nothing else; you need their letters of recommendation for law school admission. The easiest way to do so is by being a noticeably good student in class. So your professor’s morning coffee or his/her car being washed in the evening may get you some brownie points. However, do not go overboard as some might get the wrong idea (read between the lines).

5. Do well in law school

Getting into a good law school may not be enough. Your dream internship in that famous law firm or clerkship with a US Supreme Court judge will require you to burn that mid-night oil. Are you up for it? Good law school grades will go a long way in getting you your dream job with a 6-figure salary eventually.

6. Find a mentor

Both in law school and later at the law firm where you work. Becoming a lawyer is a life-long commitment which requires guidance. A mentor will help you avoid the professional pitfalls and in some cases help with decisions that may be morally challenging. A good mentor would’ve advised Denzel Washington to take Tom Hanks’s case the first time he showed up at his office in the movie Philadelphia.

7. Be a genuine advocate of your clients’ interests

A top lawyer  not only makes top dollar but also earns his/her client’s respect, irrespective of the fact whether he/she wins the case or not.

So do you think you have what it takes to be a top lawyer in today’s uber-competitive world?

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