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Things to Consider When Pursuing a Law Career

— July 1, 2020

Before deciding on this career, however, it is good to keep in mind what is expected during your education and while on the job.

A law career can be rewarding for many people, but it is important to consider more than your potential future paycheck before you start. Since this is a highly technical field that requires years of education, the costs in terms of both time and money are large and you should be sure that your skills and personality are a good fit. You may have many talents which translate well to the career, such as public speaking, logical reasoning, and analytical writing.

Education and Related Costs

Becoming a lawyer requires completing three years as a full-time law school student after getting a bachelor’s degree. Your undergraduate degree can be in most subjects and classes in English, history, and public speaking are important. Some jurisdictions also require a Juris Doctor program to practice law. You can earn your Master of Laws online from accredited institutions and find accelerated or part-time programs to help you plan out your timeline and costs. While your future salary can pay school debt, it is important to know how much you need as well as the average starting salary in your area. The cost of professional work attire should also factor in, as nice suits come with a hefty price tag and they can be too uncomfortable for some.

Timelines and Testing

After getting your high school diploma or equivalent, it takes an average of seven years of study for your Master of Laws as a full-time student. Since many students work full-time and take part-time classwork, it can take much longer to get the degree. Luckily, many institutions understand this and offer night classes, part time schedules and other accommodations. Throughout this time, you will be tested frequently on course work and will probably be required to take the LSAT for admission. While most practicing attorneys will tell you it is worth it, they will also usually be up front about the difficulty and that the timelines and testing should factor into your decision.

Writing and Public Speaking

OKC law school courtroom; image by David Veksler, via Un
OKC law school courtroom; image by David Veksler, via Un

Public speaking and writing are necessary to be a lawyer, you will be expected to present information and arguments to courts, board meetings, and clients in various formats. Students are usually encouraged to participate in debate, either classes or competitions, to help develop public speaking skills and learn some of the rules. This is not usually a requirement, but it can look better on your application and resume. Taking English classes is a requirement for most programs, however, because there is almost constant writing involved in the field. Whether you are filing briefs with the court or reading over contracts for a client, knowing a good foundation in English can help make this easier and more effective.

Logical Reasoning and Analysis

Preparing cases and documents requires a specific type of analysis and logical reasoning. You will need the ability to pick important details out of the information and determine how they apply to the situation; in what direction your case needs to go and what supplemental data is needed. You will then persuasively explain this to the parties involved with visuals and facts organized logically. To develop these skills, and keep them sharp, you can take classes in logic or find puzzles for practice.

Work Hours and Client Development

Attorneys have long work hours with many putting in more than forty a week. This time is spent both on cases and on marketing yourself to potential clients. Before deciding on a career in law, it is important to understand that you will be spending long days at the office. This can be uncomfortable and put a strain on relationships, but is well worth it for many in the field.

Getting your Master of Laws can be an excellent way to transition to a more fulfilling career and can be done online to fit your schedule. Before deciding on this career, however, it is good to keep in mind what is expected during your education and while on the job. Knowing all the facts can help you make the best decision for how to apply your skills and time.

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