What is a Lawyer?
Table of Contents
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.
How to Become a Lawyer
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:
- Focuses on the legal matters of divorce and the dissolution of marriage
- 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
- 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
- Focuses on crimes and their punishments
- Focuses on individuals or organizations that make legal declarations stating their inability to pay their creditors
- Governs the employer-employee relationship which includes contracts, regulations, bargaining agreements, protection against discrimination, wages and hours, health and safety, and severance negotiations
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How to 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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