What Does a Lawyer Do?
Lawyers get hired by public and private corporations to represent them in court of law and advise them about the best course of action in different legal battles. Lawyers typically perform the following duties:
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- Advising clients
- Representing clients in the courtroom
- Preparing legal documents for clients
- Interviewing witnesses involved in a client’s case
- Conducting Depositions
- Arguing Court Motions
- Conducting Trials etc.
Steps to Become a Lawyer in the US
It may take you almost 7 years of studying after graduating high school to become a full-time working lawyer. Here is a step by step guideline to help you get started.
Step-1: Bachelor’s Degree
A typical bachelor’s degree can be completed in 4 years. A vast majority of law schools do not require you to graduate in a specific major except or the students of Property Law. Those who want to become a property lawyer must complete their bachelor’s degree in a subject related to Technical, Natural or Computer Science, Electrical Engineering or Math etc. because they need to clear the patent bar exam which demands a Math Degree or a Technical Science Degree.
Step-2: The Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
In order to get admission in the Juris Doctor Law Degree, all graduates of bachelor’s degrees must pass the LSAT exam. This is a standardized test that evaluates the knowledge of all candidates in crucial areas of legal work.
Step-3: Juris Doctor Law Degree
The Juris Doctor Degree or otherwise called as a JD can be completed in approximately 3 years of full-time study. The curriculum mostly includes courses like, Constitutional Law, Legal Writing, Property Law, Civil Procedure and Contracts etc. Prospective lawyers may choose any of the following specializations according to their area of interest:
- Real Estate
- Property Tax
- Criminal Law
- Environmental Law
- Family Law and so on
Step-4: Field Experience
The J.D. degree provides students with ample opportunities to acquire hands on experience in the form on projects, internships, pro-bono cases etc.
Step-5: The Bar Exam
Majority of the states in the U.S. require students to acquire degrees from a law school that has been accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Even though most the states have their own rules and criteria of exams, the exam typically has 2 portions and spans over 2 days. The Multistate Bar Exam takes place in one day whereas, the written test takes place on the second say. Before granting licensure, the state bar also evaluates the prospective lawyers on their level of competence, ability to represent others, educational background as well as on their overall character.
How Much Can I Earn as a Lawyer in the US?
As per the data reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018, lawyers earned a mean annual salary of $144,230 which amounts to $69.34 mean wage per hour. That mean salary was increased to $145,300 in the year 2019. In 2020, the annual mean wage for lawyers increased again to $148,910.
In addition to that, BLS listed Specialized Design Services as the highest paying industry for this occupation with an annual mean salary of $233,400 in 2020. In the year 2020, California was listed as the state with the highest employment level (84,160) for this occupation and District of Columbia was reported as the top paying state with an annual mean salary of $197,100.
Below is a list of the highest paying states for lawyers in the US in 2020.
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
A 9% employment growth was predicted by BLS for this career between 2020 and 2030 which is considered to be as fast as the average of other occupations.