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Lawyer

Job Duties

Lawyers, often referred to as attorneys, serve as the backbone of the entire legal system. They play two key roles in society: the role of an advocate and that of an advisor. In the role of advocate, they represent individuals or parties in criminal or civil trials. They present evidence and argue the case of their client in a court of law. In the role of advisor, they provide guidance and counsel to their clients regarding legal rights and obligations, and they give advice concerning various courses of action that could be taken by their clients. Most of a lawyer's work revolves around researching and applying the law to the particular circumstances of their client.

Law School

The specific type of work a lawyer does is largely dependent on their specialization, and there are many types of specializations. Trial lawyers focus on criminal and civil trials, have special knowledge of the intricacies of a courtroom, and are excellent, authoritative speakers. Even trial lawyers spend a majority of their time outside the courtroom interviewing witnesses, preparing paperwork, and researching the law. Some lawyers specialize in bankruptcy, probate, international, elder, or environmental law. An increasing number specialize in the field of intellectual property rights, assisting their clients in claiming copyrights to artwork, product designs, and computer programs. Others advise insurance companies or work for the government.

Job Skills

Lawyers hold a great deal of responsibility and those seeking a career in the occupation should be ethical and responsible individuals. They need to have the ability to earn the confidence and trust of their clients, associates, and the public. Lawyers should also have perseverance, creativity, and reasoning ability.

Income

In 2002, lawyers earned a median annual salary of $90,290. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $44,490, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $145,600. The following shows the median annual salaries in the industries employing the highest numbers of lawyers:

  • Management of companies and enterprises -- $131,970
  • Federal government -- $98,790
  • Legal services -- $93,970
  • Local government -- $69,710
  • State government -- $67,910

Training and Education

To practice law, lawyers must be admitted to a State's bar by passing that State's bar examination, which includes a written section and a section on ethics. To qualify to take the State bar examination, applicants must hold a college degree and a degree from an accredited law school. An entire law education usually lasts 7 years, including 4 years of undergraduate school and 3 years of law school. In order to qualify for admission to law school, applicants must have a bachelor's degree. A multidisciplinary undergraduate background is preferred, as opposed to a specific major. Courses may include English, foreign languages, public speaking, government, philosophy, history, economics, mathematics, and computer science. Admission to law school is competitive and may be determined by the applicant's grades, prior work experience, and sometimes a personal interview.

Lawyers must complete continuing legal education through law schools and many State and local bar associations. These courses help lawyers stay in touch with the latest developments in the field. Newly hired lawyers usually begin as associates with more experienced lawyers serving as mentors. After a few years, they may begin to receive more responsibilities, and may eventually be admitted to partnership in their firm or develop their own independent practice. Some lawyers with significant experience are elected or nominated to judgeships.

Employment

In 2002, lawyers held about 695,000 jobs. 75% operated a private practice, either a partnership or a solo practice.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of lawyers is expected to increase about as fast as the average. This will be due to population growth as well as growth in the general level of business activities. Growth will be highest in such specializations as elder, antitrust, environmental, and intellectual-property law. Due to the growing number of students graduating from law school each year, competition for jobs will remain high.

To learn more about becoming a lawyer, please visit our section on schools offering Legal Training for more information.


Lawyer Training

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            1 Program(s) Found
            • Professors are skilled attorneys, judges, and managers who provide a real-world perspective on law.
            • A small average class size of 25 students allows more individualized attention from professors.
            • Convenient scheduling options and flexible admission requirements make it possible to pursue a professional law degree.
            • Students can choose between the Juris Doctor (J.D.) program and a Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) program.
            • Both programs are backed by 45 years of law education experience.
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            1 Program(s) Found
            Platt College , Ontario
            • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
            • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
            • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
            • 3 campuses in Southern California.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            3 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
            • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
            • Online courses help make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 24 months and a master’s degree in 12-18 months.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
            • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
            • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
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            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
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            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Grad Schools for Physician Assistants in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Dedicated to delivering quality education and personalized attention to students since 1899.
            • Provides a range of campus experiences and services online including advising, tutoring, student community, and career services.
            • Offers counseling services and a 24/7 crisis hotline to students at no extra charge.
            • Gives students and alumni access to career assistants who help with resumes, cover letters, job hunting, and more.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            UEI College , Bakersfield
            • Dedicated to providing  career training since 1975.
            • Has 13 campus locations in Southern California and a campus in Morrow, GA.
            • Provides flexible class times including weekends.
            • Offers curriculum that ranges from 8 month diploma programs to 16-month Associate of Applied Science degree programs.
            • Has admissions professionals available to help students decide which diploma or degree program they should pursue.
            • Gives job placement assistance strengthened by relationships with local employers.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
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            About Brightwood College

            Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

            About Education Corporation of America

            Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

            • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
            • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
            • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            • Transferable Credits

            Adler University Online Graduate Degree Programs

            Adler University offers fully online, accredited master’s degrees with the academic rigor, personal attention, and commitment to social responsibility that have distinguished our institution for more than 60 years. Our graduates are prepared as highly effective leaders advocating for stronger, healthier, and safer communities in their professional roles effecting social change as counselors, first responders, corporate managers, military personnel, nonprofit organizers, and more.  Established in 1952 to build on the pioneering work of Alfred Adler, the first community psychologist, Adler University is an independent, nonprofit institution.

            • Online Courses
            • Ranked among the 2015 Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Designated as a Military Friendly School every year since 2012 by Victory Media.
            • Offers credit for prior learning and experience through assessment tests.
            • Provides a short term Leadership Certification program in partnership with EQUIP®.
            • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits