We’d be lying to you if we told you that your dream of becoming a lawyer was an easy one. Like most good things in life, it is a long and difficult process. Not only do you need an extensive educational background, but it also takes a special kind of individual to step up to the job.
Educational Requirements: The Road Ahead
To become a lawyer, you need to have a high school diploma and a four-year college degree. Place focus on classes that will help expand your knowledge of public speaking, reading, math and science. What you choose to have a degree in does not affect your ability to get into law school, as long as you maintain good grades. However, if there is a pre-law course or government related courses, jump on board. You must take the Law School Admission Test before completing your last year of college. Once accepted, you generally are required at least three years of full-time law school and once you’ve completed your bar exam, you will receive a license from the state allowing you to practice law.
Your Personality and Charisma Matter, Too
Proper education and discipline can get you far. However, there are still other aspects to your personality that will better your chances of finding a great job as an attorney. For one, you must be a great speaker and writer. Lawyers have to work closely with the legal system, speaking directly for their clients and filling out important documents. Something as simple as an improperly placed comma or wrongly-selected word can completely void a statement or make it inconclusive.
You also must be persuasive and confident in the words you speak. If public speaking is a fear of yours, you may need to consider another career because that is one of the most important aspects of a lawyer’s job. You need to be able to forcefully (yet professionally) make the other side, the judge and the jury hear you and quickly understand where you’re coming from. The goal is to get the best possible solution to the case at hand, every single time.
Harsh yet Human: Strong yet Approachable
A great lawyer is someone who understands people. Someone who sees what makes people tick, why individuals act the way they do and have an extensive knowledge of how the human brain works. So, not only do you need to be forceful and persuasive but also have the passion to be able to tone it down and be sensitive to your client’s needs.
Depending on the type of cases you decide to handle, things can get a bit heated and emotionally driven, so being strong enough to take that on is crucial. Buckling under pressure is not an option and neither is getting too emotionally invested. You must be able to look at a case, use the restrictions of the law in order to come up with solutions (it may take many, many tries to reach a resolution) and steer your clients in the right direction. The law is not black and white, so you must be a creative problem solver.
This post is authored by John Williams. Legal recruiter by profession, he practices in the field ofÂ legal recruitment in Melbourne during the day. In his spare time, he likes to write about lawyers and attorneys, the qualifications and other qualities required to become one.