How to Prepare For a Career as a Lawyer
Pursuing a career in law has so many benefits. Some of them include a variety of employment opportunities in the private and public sector, a sense of fulfillment that comes from helping clients, and good pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor, the 2018 median pay for lawyers was $58.13 per hour or $120,910 per year. If you are aspiring to become a lawyer, start preparing even before you graduate high school. You can prepare through the following.
Work Hard in High School
The first step you should take is to work hard in high school and get good grades. Give it your best and get extra coaching if you are struggling in some areas. A good performance in high school will give you more options when it comes to choosing a law school. Thus, work hard and graduate with good grades.
Do Some Community Work
Being involved in community work can strengthen your college application and it also gives you better chances of qualifying for a scholarship. Also, volunteering gives you an opportunity to grow as an individual and learn some great lessons from real life experiences. If you can find a law-related community service project, that would be a plus. However, all community work is beneficial. Take what is available in your community.
Work on Your Verbal Communication Skills
Good communication skills are essential for a successful career in law. You need great skills to communicate effectively with your colleagues and clients and also present cases assertively in court. In high school, you can sharpen your communication skills by taking part in debates and drama. Taking leadership positions can also help in strengthening communication and public speaking skills. Don’t forget that good communication involves active listening as well. Thus, practice that too.
Consider the Finances
Will your parents pay for law school? Will you require a student loan? Talk to your parents about this early and save a portion of the money you get from summer jobs or as gifts from family and friends. Some ambitious law students even get funding from other attorneys who they’ve met at social events. There are several attorney specific scholarships available as well as grants.
Get an Internship or Work Part-time in a Law Firm
This will give you a better perspective of what it means to work as a lawyer. Though your tasks as a high school graduate intern will most likely be limited to clerical work, the experience you get will prepare you for your career ahead. It can also be helpful in choosing a specialty. Finally, such opportunities are essential for networking. If you are unable to get an internship or part-time work, talk to a lawyer you know and request them to have you over at their office for a day or more.
Sharpen Your Writing Skills
As a lawyer, you will craft tons of documents every day, so start working on your writing skills early. For some, writing comes easy, whereas others require practice. Reading too can help you in becoming a better writer. Read legal publications and take note of the style and vocabulary.
The hard work should continue even after you get to college. Work hard in class, hone your soft skills, and get involved in extra curriculum activities. And remember to stay out of trouble.
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