The extensive qualifications for becoming a lawyer begin with a bachelors degree. The field of study isn't necessarily important, though future law students often choose majors such as history, English, political science, philosophy, economics, or mathematics. Whatever your major, be sure to select challenging classes that focus on critical reading and analysis, logic, projects, organization, writing, and research. After completing your undergraduate degree, you will take the Law School Admission Test, LSAT. This test is meant to assess your potential for the study of law. Assuming you do well, you will then continue on to a three-year juris doctor (J.D.) degree program, where you will study constitutional law, contracts, property law, legal writing, and civil procedure. You may also choose to specialize in a particular area of law such as labor, tax, or corporate law. The final qualification is the bar exam. Each state has their own particular requirements for the exam. It will typically be a two-day affair. Day one will consist of the Multistate Bar Examination, 200 questions covering torts, real property, evidence, criminal law, contracts, and constitutional law. Day two will bring essays or the Multistate Essay Examination and Multistate Performance Test.
Excellent reading comprehension and writing skills are two of the most important qualifications for any good lawyer. Speaking skills are also essential. Lawyers are paid to speak on behalf of their clients. You must be able to present and explain evidence in a clear and confident manner. In order to successfully defend clients, you will need strong research, analytical, and problem-solving skills. Interpersonal skills are also important in order to earn the respect and confidence of clients.
You can gain valuable experience while still in school by participating in legal clinics, moot court competitions, practice trials, and through research and writing on legal issues for the school's law journals. Look for part-time jobs or internships with law firms, corporate legal departments, government agencies, or any other law related sector. The experience you gain will be a great asset after college and may lead directly to a job offer post-graduation.
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