So You Want to Be An Attorney?

How do you know if you would be a successful attorney? Will you like the work? Here are some ways to get practical experience to help you choose a career path.

There are certain careers whose mere names bring with them a hint of greatness. Among these careers are doctors, rocket scientists and attorneys. Deciding to become an attorney is a serious commitment that brings with it years of schooling and usually a permanent career choice. Before making such a huge commitment, it is important for a person to consider many things about the profession. It is not as easy as saying “OK, I’m going to get a law degree and be like the people on television.’” There are serious considerations you must take and a few decisions that have to be made after deciding to go into the legal profession.

Prior to Law School

There are several things you should know and do before starting a law career. These ideas will help a prospective lawyer make a well-educated decision.

Take an Undergraduate Law Class
This will allow you to get a real feel for what you might experience once you are in law school. These classes can include business law, civil liberty law and constitutional law, amongst several others. As long as the class involves a bit of research and legal reasoning it will give you, the student, an idea of what law is really like. If you ascertain that you don’t like the analysis and reasoning involved in the legal field, it may be best to consider another career path.

Visit a Law School
Make a call to a nearby law school and ask to sit in on a class. Find a class that isn’t necessarily that exciting, because most undergraduate schools will only offer popular law courses. Administrative law or any class that doesn’t sound particularly exciting will do. This will give you an idea of how a real law school actually operates, and the types of courses you may be taking.

Speak to Graduates and Practicing Attorneys
Being an attorney usually isn’t as glamorous as television portrays. Speak with lawyers who actually practice law and to people that have law degrees but do not currently practice. According to The Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson, when interviewing practicing attorneys, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions to challenge the lawyer’s knowledge and experience.” In most cases, you’ll discover, these lawyers continue to take courses in their area of specialization, long after they have graduated from law school.

Asking questions is the best way to get insight from both sides of the career. Some questions you may want to ask include: “What do you like best and least about your job?” or, “What does your daily routine consist of?” and even, “What sorts of obstacles have you encountered along the way?”

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Once the Decision is Made

Once a student has decided to attend law school, he or she will need to consider what type of law they want to practice. Most lawyers don’t handle every type of case that may go to court, so it is important for a prospective lawyer (and student) to choose an area of law that they will be comfortable working in day to day.

Family Law

This area of law will often involve issues of parental rights and even juvenile cases. An attorney working in this area will be involved in handling child custody cases, divorces and crimes committed by underage offenders. This area of law can involve a high level of emotion, so a prospective lawyer should be prepared.

Criminal Defense

This area involves defending people accused of crimes. Many lawyers make their bread and butter working with people accused of driving under the influence (DUI). If you are considering this field, you should know that this can be a very lucrative business, because simply failing a breathalyzer test doesn’t mean a person will be convicted of the crime of DUI. It is important to remember that every person accused of a crime deserves a good defense, regardless of how obvious their guilt may be. If your conscious can deal with this, you can make a great deal of money as a criminal defense attorney.

Civil Law

There is also the opportunity to make a decent living in the area of civil law as well. This expertise focuses on non-criminal disputes between organizations or individuals. The cases are usually brought forward by a victim who has sustained some form of injury (physical, monetary, etc.) and is seeking compensation.

Becoming an attorney is usually a lifelong commitment, but if you are wholeheartedly engaged in what you will be doing, then it may be well worth the time and effort needed to become a lawyer. Remember, old episodes of “Law and Order’” will not give you a realistic idea of what actual courtroom drama is all about. Only after serious consideration, research and a few personal career choices will you be able to have a successful and rewarding legal career. The road to becoming an accomplished attorney is a long one, but for those who really have a love of the law, it is definitely one worth taking. What road will you take?

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