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What is a Lawyer?

Also known as: Advocate, Barrister, Counsel, Solicitor, Associate Attorney, Attorney.

A lawyer is someone who is licensed to practice law, and whose obligation it is to uphold the law while also protecting their client's rights. Some duties commonly associated with a lawyer include: providing legal advice and counsel, researching and gathering information or evidence, drawing up legal documents related to divorces, wills, contracts and real estate transactions, and prosecuting or defending in court.

The exact terminology for the word "lawyer" varies throughout the world. Attorney, counsel, barrister or solicitor are all various names given to lawyers. The origin of the profession dates back to ancient Greece, when orators spoke on behalf of friends or citizens at their request. Although they acted as legal counsel, according to Athenian law, orators could not be paid for their services, nor could they organize themselves as a legal profession. The earliest lawyers in ancient Rome, around 204 BC, received payment for their services when Emperor Claudius legalized the profession and lifted the ban on fees.

What does a Lawyer do?

A lawyer has many responsibilities which go beyond the basic court trial. Researching information, drafting documents, mediating disputes and providing counsel to clients about their legal rights are just some tasks involved depending on your area of interest.

Types of Lawyers:

Divorce Lawyer
- Focuses on the legal matters of divorce and the dissolution of marriage

Immigration Lawyer
- Determines the legal rights, duties and obligations of a person deemed an alien and aids an individual in gaining legal citizenship within a specific country

Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer
- Usually involves civil law cases that focus on injury to body, mind or emotions and compensation for the injuries sustained in the accident

Business and Corporate Lawyer
- Focuses on contracts, sales, commercial paper, agency and employment law, business organizations and property and bailment

Family Lawyer
- Deals with family related issues that arise during marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships that include spousal abuse, legitimacy, adoption, surrogacy, child abuse and child abduction

Criminal Lawyer
- Focuses on crimes and their punishments

Bankruptcy Lawyer
- Focuses on individuals or organizations that make legal declarations stating their inability to pay their creditors

Employment Lawyer
- Governs the employer-employee relationship which includes contracts, regulations, bargaining agreements, protection against discrimination, wages and hours, health and safety, and severance negotiations

What is the workplace of a Lawyer like?

A lawyer can work in a law firm, private company, or even work for state as a public defender or for the prosecution. Most attorneys work 50-80 hours per week, including weekends. The newly hired attorneys usually serve as clerks in charge of researching information and aiding in preparation for upcoming trials.

How can I become a Lawyer?

Becoming a lawyer is a long and competitive process. A bachelor's degree from an accredited four-year university is mandatory. An associate's degree will not suffice. Your major is not important since this will not affect your chances of entering law school, but your grade point average will. Maintaining a high grade point average (GPA) throughout your four years is important.

Once you have completed your bachelor's degree, the next step is to take the entrance exam known as the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test). This is a half-day exam so preparation is important. Investing in study guides, practice tests and a LSAT prep course will help with your success. The next step is applying to a law school. Your GPA and LSAT scores will influence your chances of acceptance. Most schools minimum score requirement will decide your application being considered.

Once accepted, expect to spend a minimum of three years as a full-time student. Law school focuses on essay exams and requires formulating information in a way acceptable to your professor, so it is imperative to adopt to this style of learning early.

Next, after graduating law school, you must prepare for the bar exam. The best way to prepare and pass on the first try is to take the bar review course. The money is worth the investment because it aids in organizing your thoughts and ensures you covered all the necessary information. The last step is passing the Character and Fitness evaluation. This is an extensive and intrusive investigation into your personal history and records to decide your ethics in practicing law.

Education is not the only skill needed for this profession. The ability to articulate effectively, be persuasive, mediate disputes, and recall large volumes of legal documents and precedents are all essential.

  • Best Law Schools In USA

    With the U.S. News rankings of the top law schools, narrow your search by location, tuition, school size and test scores.

  • Best Law Schools In Canada

    The top 6 best Law Schools in Canada (in no particular order).

  • Most Popular European Law Schools

    100 Most Popular Law Schools 2014

  • How does one decide what type of lawyer to become?

    It would be a good idea to ask yourself a few questions when considering what type of lawyer to become:

    • What attracts you to being a lawyer?
    • What motivates you to make it your career?
    • Who do you see yourself representing?
    • What type of impact do you want to have in the world?
    • What types of situations do you see yourself wanting to be engaged in?
    • What type of lifestyle do you see yourself having in your profession?
    • What do the job prospects look like for the type of law you may be considering?
    • What classes do you enjoy the most in law school?

    Most lawyers get into law for personal reasons. For example, if you feel strongly about worker's rights, then labour law might be the route for you. Strong beliefs about the rights of immigrants? Immigration law. The environment? Environmental law. If you want to make an impact in something you feel very strongly about, and there's a law for it, consider that avenue.

    What makes a great lawyer?

    Great lawyers have invested much time and effort in understanding people, building relationships, and in being great leaders. They have great communication skills (both written and verbal), a high level of intelligence, excellent analytical skills, and excellent advocacy skills. They have a passion for their particular specialty, a high level of commitment to their work and to their client, and are an expert in their field. They also understand their client's objectives, and advocate on that basis; not just on the basis of the law itself.

    What are the negative aspects of being a lawyer?

    A career in law can be demanding and stressful. A few common complaints from legal professionals are: long hours, court deadlines, billing pressures, changing laws, high-pressure deals, and difficult clients. If you throw in rising business pressures, continually evolving legal technologies, and climbing law school debt, it's easy to see why lawyers are sometimes stressed.



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    Further Reading

    • What Does An International Lawyer Do?

      An international lawyer may work on a variety of issues that have international aspects to them. Most of these lawyers specialize in one specific area of law, such as corporate issues, like negotiating business deals for companies located in different countries.

    • Types Of Lawyers And What They Do

      Many people have a common misconception regarding the profession of lawyers. They think that for every legal kind of work and formality, you can approach any lawyer. However, you need to note that there are different kinds of lawyers that are present for carrying out specialized tasks.

    • My Typical Day Shows Why Lawyers Are Miserable And Lonely

      This post originally appeared on Quora, in response to the question, "Why are so many lawyers unhappy with their jobs?" It was posted anonymously and provides an extremely detailed account of the life of a corporate attorney.

    • So You Want To Be A Lawyer?

      Do you know what working as a lawyer actually involves? And are you sure of the steps you have to take to qualify as a solicitor or barrister?

    • What Being A Lawyer Is Really Like

      Your experience as a lawyer is largely determined by the path you choose. It’s unlike law school, where people generally have a similar experience -- even though you find different internships and take different electives, there’s a basic formula. After that, it’s wide open. I wish more law students would think about this before starting law school, rather than during their last semester.

    • Becoming A Lawyer: Is A Law Degree Still A 'Golden Ticket'?

      A Canadian law degree was once viewed as a surefire route to a well-paying, successful career, complete with a mansion and Mercedes. Today, however, the equation isn't that simple, with the potential value of a law degree weighing out against the astronomical increase of tuition fees, leaving graduates with high debts rather than riches.

    • Vital Issues To Consider While In Law School

      Welcome to law school. You will probably hear sometime during orientation how unnecessary it is to choose early on what type of law you wish practice and where you wish to practice it. As someone who took that advice and suffered for it, let me tell you: That is completely untrue.

    • What Law School Is Really Like: The Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing But The Truth

      Law school takes no prisoners whether your intentions are pure or tainted, and it is a painful process that must be endured to obtain that glorious pot of juris doctorate gold at the end of the rainbow.

    • Are You The 'Lawyer Type?'

      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?

    • So You Want To Become A Lawyer

      Below are ten factors that every prospective law student must consider before choosing to become a lawyer.

    • 10 Worst Things About A Career As A Lawyer

      A career as a lawyer is one of the most highly sought-after professions on the globe. Indeed, there are many rewards to working as a lawyer. However, attorney work has its drawbacks as well. Below are the ten worst things about a career as a lawyer.

    • Top 10 Reasons To Become A Lawyer

      It is important to learn as much about the profession as possible before you embark on a career path as a lawyer.

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