If you want to know how to become a lawyer, there are several touchstones on the path that are necessary to hit in order to be successful. Following is a discussion of how to become a lawyer and suggestions for checking your progress along every step of the way.
The first step in how to become a lawyer is getting a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. That means going to college for four years, studying very hard and participating in extracurricular activities. Your major itself is not so important—some schools will have pre-law programs, but many successful lawyers went to law school with a degree in another related discipline, such as English, history, or statistics. If you intend to practice in a very specialized area of law, such as pharmaceutical law, then you will have to tailor your major to fit that specialty, but otherwise, it’s pretty much your choice. However, no matter what major you choose you’ll have to have good grades to get into law school, so put your best into every test.
The second step in how to become a lawyer is applying to law school. (Law school degrees are required to take the bar exam in every state except California.) Law schools are very competitive so apply to as many as is feasible and don’t be distraught if you don’t get into your first choice (even if it’s where you got your undergraduate degree). Once you get into law school, you’ll have three years of intense study before taking the bar exam. The primary purpose of law school is to teach you the reasoning and research skills lawyers need, not to prepare for the exam. Over the summer vacations, it’s a good idea to get a summer associate position, rather than the typical summer job. This experience will look much better on your resume when you’re ready to enter the legal profession for real.
When you’ve graduated law school, you may have your law degree, but there’s still another step in how to become a lawyer: the bar exam. Decide which states you want to be eligible to practice in, as there is one part of the exam that is standard for everyone no matter where they live, and another part that is just for individual states. (If you choose to try more than one state, you don’t have to duplicate the standard part; you only take it once.) Find a study group or coach to help you with this, as failing the bar exam is the biggest barrier in how to become a lawyer.
After you’ve passed the bar exam, the final step in how to become a lawyer is extremely simple—attend your swearing in and meet any requirements your state bar has, such as annual dues or keeping up with continuing legal education requirements.