Attorney / Lawyer

How to become an Attorney
Attorney Job Duties
Skills and Qualities for Attorneys
Attorney and Lawyer Salaries
Influential Attorneys
Leading Organizations in this Field
Top Cities for Attorney Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Attorney.

Attorneys or Lawyers must attend Law School. Applicants to law school are required to have a bachelor's degree for admission. A multi-disciplinary undergraduate background is recommended with courses that include the skills of communication (both speaking and writing), research, analyzing, and logical thinking. Applicants to law school are screened through their undergraduate grades, quality of the undergraduate school, prior work experience, score on the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, and occasionally, a personal interview. Though state approved schools exist, as of 2006, there were 195 schools accredited by the American Bar Association. Competition for acceptance into law school is said to be intense, with the number of applicants greatly outnumbering the slots available.

During the first half of law school, students study core courses such as constitutional law, civil procedure, and legal writing. During the second half, students usually select an area of specialty and often gain practical experience in school sponsored legal clinics and moot court competitions. After law school, lawyers must stay informed about legal and non-legal developments affecting the practice of law. Forty-eight states currently have continuing education requirements for lawyers.

To practice law in any state or jurisdiction in the United States, an individual must pass an examination to be licensed, or admitted to its bar. Many states also require aspiring lawyers to pass a written ethics exam. In most cases, lawyers must pass these exams in each state they wish to practice. Federal courts also set their own qualifications for those practicing before them.

What does an Attorney do?

Lawyers form the backbone of the legal system in the United States. They act as advocates for their clients within the legal system, which can take the form of offering evidence and arguments on the client's behalf in a court of law. Lawyers also advise clients of their legal rights, obligations and options. They can suggest a particular course of action in a business or personal matter. In all circumstances, lawyers research the intent of the law and previous court rulings and analyze them for application to the client's specific situation. Although law libraries are still the mainstay of this research, more and more lawyers are turning to technology to supplement the research process.

What skills or personal qualities make an ideal Attorney?

Practicing law requires a high degree of individual responsibility and adherence to a strict code of ethics. Successful lawyers enjoy working with people and have excellent interpersonal skills that can win the trust and confidence of their clients and the public. Lawyers often analyze complex legal issues or new and unique problems. This requires creativity, reasoning abilities, and perseverance.

How much does an Attorney make?

Earnings of lawyers and attorneys can vary widely based on several factors including years of experience, and type, size, and location of their employer. Those who own their own practices generally make significantly less than those who are partners in a large firm. In 2006, the median annual earnings of all lawyers were $102,470 with the middle fifty percent earning between $69,910 and $145,600 per year.

Who are some noted professional Attorneys and Lawyers?

Richard E. Wiley has been recognized by the National Law Journal as one of America's 100 most influential lawyers in each of the five years this list has been published. He is a partner at Wiley Rien where he heads the firm's Communication Practice. With 80 attorneys, this is the largest communications practice in the United States. In his role as chairman of the advisory committee to the Federal Communications Commission, Wiley has played an instrumental role in relaxing state regulations on mobile phones and creating the technical standards for high definition television. He has been recognized time and again for his expertise and contribution to the telecommunications industry. Some of his recent awards include the Award of Special Recognition from the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation in 2007 and the Chambers USA Award for Excellence in the area of telecommunications regulatory work in 2006.

William H. Neukom is the current president of the American Bar Association and the Chair of Preston Gates LLP in Seattle, Washington. His primary initiative as president of the American Bar Association is the World Justice Project. He spent seventeen years as the lead counsel for Microsoft Corporation, where he led the effort to establish and protect intellectual property rights. Neukom was instrumental in securing a victory in the Apple v. Microsoft Corporation and led Microsoft's defense against anti-trust claims from the United States government and the European Union.

Who are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Bar Association was founded in 1878 in Soda Springs, Michigan and is currently headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. With over 400,000 members, this is the largest voluntary professional organization in the world. The mission of this organization is to be the national representation of the legal profession. The influence of the American Bar Association is rooted not only in the size of the organization (roughly half of all practicing lawyers in the United States), but also in its diversity. It provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, programs to assist legal professionals, and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public.

The National Association for Law Placement, now known as NALP, was founded in 1971 in response to the need for a forum to discuss issues related to placement and recruitment of legal professionals. This organization is dedicated to providing career counseling and professional development aimed at increasing recruitment and retention of lawyers. NALP seeks to provide expert research and education for professional development, to cultivate ethical practices in the recruitment of lawyers, to promote all available job options for those seeking a career in the legal profession, and to advocate for diversity within the legal profession.

Top Cities for Attorney Jobs

There are a large number of openings for aspiring lawyers in New York City, Chicago Illinois, Washington DC, Atlanta Georgia, and Los Angeles, California.

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