Does the idea of working in the field of law excite you? Maybe you have considered different degrees in law and going to school to become a lawyer, but you are hesitant because you are not quite sure which law path to take. Granted, there are a lot of choices in the field of law, and many types of lawyers, but you really cannot go wrong pursuing a law degree. With a general understanding of the amount of time it will take to become a lawyer, plus knowledge of all the trends, salary, and job outlook for the future of this career, you will be on your way to starting the job of your dreams.
Degrees in Law – Typical Undergraduate Degree Path
While there may not be a tried-and-true, typical degree path for prospective attorneys, there are a few requirements you must meet in order to become one. First, you must complete your bachelor’s degree in order to apply to law school. Bachelor’s degree programs are designed to take an average of four years to complete. While many schools offer degrees in pre-law specifically, it is not required that you obtain a pre-law degree in order to enter law school. As a matter of fact, many students working towards their law degree have received their bachelor’s degree in an area other than pre-law. Popular bachelor’s degrees for those interested in going to law school are in the following areas:
- Political Science
Admission to law school for students with majors other than pre-law is actually higher that those who majored in pre-law. The majors listed above are the most popular non-pre-law degrees accepted into law school. This is good news for students who want the flexibility of earning their degree from any school, including those that may not offer a degree in pre-law.
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, a prospective law student must take the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. It is very important to study adequately for this test and perform as best as possible. The test scores from this test will be submitted, along with an application, to all the law schools that are of particular interest. The higher the test scores, the stronger the applicant looks. Along with test scores, law schools pay close attention to college transcripts of potential law students, references, work history, and anything else that will provide them with an understanding of how well the student will perform in law school. Once you have been accepted into law school, you will need to devote the next three years, full-time, to your law studies. If you have been following along and doing the math, you will see that it takes a total of seven years, from the beginning of your studies to the end, before you may be eligible for practicing law. Your first year of law school will focus heavily on general studies. As you move further along in your studies, you will typically begin leaning toward “specialization” in a certain area of law. This is when you can choose an area of law that you are most interested in. The areas of law are almost countless; here is just a small sample of popular areas of law to consider:
- Admiralty and Maritime Law
- Adoptions Law
- Child Custody and Support
- Copyright Law
- Corporate Law
- Crash Litigation
- Criminal Law
- Dispute Resolution Law
- Disabilities Law
- Divorce Law
- Government Prosecutor
- Injury Law
- Public Defender
- Real Estate
- Social Security
- Tax Law
The lawyer education/qualifications that you have obtained through this point will help you enter the field after you have received your Juris Doctorate degree from law school (“Juris Doctorate” is the official term for “Law Degree). But before you are able to enter the field, you will need to take one final test. The bar exam is the final test you will take before you enter the field. The bar exam is administered by the American Bar Association, or ABA, and must be passed before you can become licensed in your state. You have many options to choose from once you decide you would like to become an attorney. There are many types of lawyers currently working in the field and each has had to make a decision along the way to specialize in the particular area where they are currently working. It is wise to choose an area of law that is of particular interest to you and is also in high demand.
Demand and Salaries for Lawyers
The demand for those pursuing a career in law will remain consistently high in the years to come. The United State Bureau of Labor and Statistic predicts an average growth of 10% through the year 2022. This is good news for anyone interested in entering the field of law. Salaries for lawyers can vary depending on which area of law is being practiced, but the average annual salary is in the area of $115,000-$125,000 per year. Your salary may be higher if you choose to work in a lucrative area of law such as securities and commodities brokerage or resin, rubber, or synthetic fibers manufacturing.
Other Careers In Law
There are other careers in law that are exciting and in high demand too. You may want to consider a career as a legal secretary or private investigator. As a legal secretary, you will assist in all the areas of legal work that take place in the field. Legal secretaries do not require a Juris Doctorate degree and the prestige and pay is less than those who have completed law school, but it still remains a career in high demand and with adequate pay. Many attorneys will hire private investigators to work for them. There may be cases that require this type of additional work and many of those professionals working in the law office simply do not have the time to do additional work in the field. As a private investigator, you will need to have proper training, and most likely you will need to be licensed too.
Working In The Law Field
Congratulations on your decision to enter the challenging and lucrative field of law. There are many options available to you as you start your journey towards your dream career. Remember that if you take each step, one at a time, you will become less overwhelmed with all the decisions you will need to make as you work towards your goal. If you’re for a career with excitement, drama, and very good pay, there’s every reason to believe that someone passionate about law could endure this rigorous course of study … but take it a step at a time, and allow yourself to be realistic about the commitment involved in the studies and in the career itself.