How to Become a Lawyer – The Basics (Part I)
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You hear about lawyers and lawsuits in the news all the time. But have you ever wondered what it takes to be a lawyer? What do lawyers do on a day-to-day basis? What salary does a lawyer typically earn? Why is a law degree one of the most sought after professional degrees?

For starters, lawyers come from all walks and stages of life. For example, some people decide they want to be lawyers at an early stage in their lives and attend college on a "pre-law" track. Others may decide to enter law school after graduating from college because they aren’t ready for a "real job" or because someone in their family is a lawyer. And other people go to college and enter the work force, only later deciding to pursue law as a second career. People who become lawyers as a second career are made up of former teachers, accountants, nurses, engineers, librarians, or any other profession you can imagine. The bottom line is this: lawyers come from every kind of background and stage of life.

While lawyers’ backgrounds are diverse, there is a general path that must be followed to be a lawyer. In short, in order to be a lawyer you must: (1) graduate from high school (or get your GED), (2) graduate from a 4-year college with a Bachelor’s degree, (3) graduate from law school, (4) pass a state bar exam, and (5) find a legal job.

Once you become a lawyer, the possibilities of what you can do with your law degree and training are quite numerous. For example, you could work as a trial lawyer, be a law clerk for a judge, join the military as a Judge Advocate General, become a special agent with the FBI, enter the business world, etc. The main point is that a law degree opens many doors.

As you can begin to see, what lawyers do on a day-to-day basis and the career paths that come with achieving a law degree can vary drastically from one lawyer to another. However, certain careers and educational backgrounds tend to better prepare one for becoming a lawyer. And if you know what you want to do with your law degree before you enter law school, you can choose the studies and training to get you where you want to go quicker. We like to call this "thinking backwards" – i.e. think about where you want to go (your goals), then figure out how to get there one step at a time.

In this article, we’ll explore where lawyers come from, what it takes to be a lawyer, what lawyers do, and the timeline in detail for becoming a lawyer. We’ll explore all these questions and more to see if the legal profession is one that appeals to you.

Next, we’ll look at whether you’re cut out to be a lawyer.