The law is an integral aspect of both individual rights and international negotiations. The advocate for anyone with a legal question or problem is a member of the law profession. Lawyers, interchangeably called attorneys, connect society to the legal system in both adversarial and advocacy positions.
Lawyers are bound by a strict code of ethics to preserve and protect both the established laws and the rights of individuals. As an advocate, attorneys act on a client’s behalf, researching and applying written law to the case at hand. Conversely, in an adversarial position, an attorney may argue for the law and against any entity accused of a crime.
The practice of law requires are degree from an accredited law school. Students must also hold a bachelors degree to be eligible for law school. Check out the programs below which offer free information:
Lawyer and Attorney Job Responsibilities
There are two tiers of lawyer and attorney job descriptions that are inherent to the legal profession. One is a general application of duties that involve advising clients, interpreting laws, rulings and regulations, analyzing probable outcomes based on legal precedents, developing strategies and evaluating findings. Lawyers are also responsible for researching and gathering evidence, having a thorough knowledge of the decisions, ordinances and statutes of the matter under review, preparing and drafting documents, legal briefs and opinions. They must also be skilled in negotiation, interpretation of the law and act as an agent for their client.
The second tier of responsibility comes with specialization. Many lawyers may choose to practice in a narrowly focused field rather than a broad array of general law. Attorneys may be experts in any arena of the legal profession. Common specializations are criminal law, probates and wills, family matters, or corporate law. There is a wide spectrum of specialized subsections of the law for attorneys in which they may concentrate and devote their careers.
Lawyer and Attorney Training and Education Requirements
An individual interested in becoming a lawyer can plan on seven years of full-time study after graduation from high school. The current recommendations are four years of undergraduate study, followed by three years of law school. All applicants for law school must have a bachelor’s degree to qualify. There is no recommended “pre-law” undergraduate major. However, prospective attorneys should focus on English with multidisciplinary programs in mind. Reading, writing, logical thinking plus a working knowledge of government, history and computer sciences are beneficial in succeeding in law school
All law schools approved by the American Bar Association administer the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Any applicant must pass the LSAT as well as be approved by the school in terms of work experience, undergraduate school, and a general interview. Most law schools run clinical programs in practical applications and students are encouraged to clerk part-time or in the summer in law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies.
After licensure, most attorneys will be required to participate in mandatory continuing education as mandated by the state in which they practice. Continuing education is compulsory in 46 states and the District of Columbia and requirements are satisfied either online or through an accredited seminar.
Lawyer and Attorney Salary and Wages
Approximately 26 percent of all attorneys are self-employed. Their practices are conducted in solo offices or as a partner in a law firm. Salaried lawyers hold positions in law firms, corporations, non-profit organizations, or in a governmental capacity. Government employed lawyers work at all levels of government from local districts to the federal government. Federal government attorneys are predominantly concentrated in the Departments of Justice, Defense and Treasury.
The median annual salary of a salaried attorney for the year ending May 2010, according to statistics, is $132,000 per year. The highest wages were paid for management of companies and enterprises while the state government attorneys were paid the least. Wages of lawyers is highly dependent upon the location, size and type of their employer. Lawyers who conduct business as a solo practice earn less than their counterparts who practice law as partners of a law firm.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Almost all salaried attorneys are provided with benefit packages including health and life insurance, contributions to 401K and IRAs and are awarded bonuses based on the number of clients brought in and the successful outcome of litigation.
Lawyer and Attorney Certifications
Certification in the legal field is called licensure. This means an individual must be admitted to the bar under the highest jurisdiction of the court. This admission to the bar is accomplished through a passing both a written test and a separate written ethics examination. However, some states do not require the ethics examination but all must pass the written bar examination in the state in which they will practice. Most states administer the six hour Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) while still others may require the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) or the Multistate Performance Examination (MPE).
Lawyer and Attorney Professional Associations
Lawyers may join any one of a host of professional associations and organizations. The most noted is the American Bar Association, which is the nation’s largest association of attorneys. Attorneys may also join local associations in the community or an academy of fellows specializing in an individual’s field of practice. Many attorneys opt to join alumni associations of their graduate law school as well as organizations set up to advocate and provide resources for attorneys.