Educational Requirements for Aspiring Lawyers
Courts in the United States handle millions of legal proceedings each year. These include criminal and civil cases involving everything from divorces to traffic offenses.
To ensure the best outcome in court, plaintiffs and defendants benefit from hiring a skilled attorney. The demand for legal representation explains why the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects lawyers to enjoy steady job growth between 2020 and 2030. Lawyers also earn high salaries, which may inspire you to pursue this career option. Let’s look at the academic requirements you’ll need to fulfill to become a great lawyer like Malliha Wilson.
You can prepare for college while you’re in high school.
When you’re in high school, it’s a good idea to talk to a college application counselor to ensure you choose courses that will impress college application review boards. When you invest in college application services, you’ll receive expert insight into strengthening your college application with extracurricular activities. Your admissions counselor can also help you find a suitable internship to gain practical experience. You can also work with college admissions experts to prepare your application essay, ensuring you impress the application review board at your dream school.
You’ll need an undergraduate degree.
Aspiring lawyers must start by earning a bachelor’s degree. You could opt to major in business if you’re interested in becoming a business attorney, or you may major in history, psychology, or political science. You might pursue a degree in criminal justice if you’re thinking about becoming a prosecutor or a criminal law attorney. Although you can pursue any major and still earn a law degree, you may consider which legal specialty you want to pursue to ensure you take appropriate courses.
Talking to attorneys about their academic choices can help you choose the right college to attend. For example, Malliha Wilson is a senior partner with Nava Wilson LLP and has decades of experience serving as the Ontario government’s senior appellate litigation counsel. She’s also presented several notable cases before Canada’s Supreme Court. Malliha attended McGill University, earning her undergraduate degree before attending law school. Today, Malliha handles various cases, including labour law and human rights law cases. Her impressive career may inspire you to attend McGill University yourself or pursue the same major while earning your bachelor’s degree.
Aspiring lawyers must pass the LSAT.
After earning your undergraduate degree, you must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Almost all accredited law schools consider LSAT scores when reviewing applications, and a strong LSAT score will help you get into your preferred law degree program. The LSAT includes multiple-choice questions and a writing sample. The test evaluates your logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and analytical reasoning skills.
You might be able to take the Graduate Record Examinations General Test (GRE) instead of taking the LSAT. Discuss this option with a college application counselor to ensure you pursue the test option that will impress your dream college.
Lawyers must earn a Juris Doctor (JD) degree.
Once you’re accepted to law school, you’ll spend three years earning your graduate degree. This is when you’ll confirm your legal specialty. Common legal specialties include family, constitutional, human rights, personal injury, real estate, business, criminal, and labour law. Your legal specialty will determine the types of cases you handle during your career. It could also affect where you work because some business lawyers work for corporations instead of law firms.
Take the bar exam.
You must pass your state’s bar exam to receive your law license. This exam may focus on torts, criminal law, and contracts. Since each state’s bar exam differs, it’s a good idea to research your state’s bar exam to ensure you’re ready to take this test.
You must complete several years of postsecondary studies before becoming a lawyer. After earning a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to take the LSAT or GRE and earn a law degree. But with a lot of hard work, you can become a successful lawyer.