At Hastings & Hastings, we are committed to defending the rights of accident victims and supporting them in any way we can. When our founder, David Hastings, opened the doors to the first Hastings & Hastings office in 1979, he had a mission to provide excellent legal representation at a discount rate. He understood that not everyone had the skills and expertise that he had spent a lifetime developing and nurturing. Becoming a lawyer is no easy task. It requires years of dedication and hard work. Some lawyers will tell you that they took their first steps towards becoming a lawyer all the way back in high school.
The thing about practicing as a lawyer, even after years of schooling, your education is just beginning. There is no way to replicated the experience of practicing law in the real world. This is why lawyers will speak to the importance of experience. Learning and growing as a lawyer can only happen through real life practice.
Many individuals are drawn to the legal field when they are young. However, they may be dissuaded from pursuing it because they don’t know how to become a lawyer. Sure, they know you are supposed to go to law school, but what can you do to increase your odds of being accepted? Law school is competitive. What habits do great lawyer practice on a daily basis? Where should I go to school? Does it matter? We have been asked all of these question and more by young men and women hoping to become lawyers one day. Today, we are going to talk about the process of becoming a lawyer and entering the field of law.
Start Early – Excel in High School
It is never too early to develop good habits. In fact, the earlier you learn to practice good habit, the more deeply they will become ingrained in your daily behavior. If you plan on entering into a competitive professional field, it is important to take academics seriously. Doing well in high school will allow you to attend a better college. Doing well at a good college will allow you to attend a good law school. The quality of the law school you attend could have a major impact on your career as a lawyer.
There are many skills that are important when practicing law, including writing, reading, communication, and critical thinking. These skills can be developed in high school. By working hard and studying, you may be able to enroll in advanced placement classes. Not only are advanced placement classes more challenging, allowing you to develop the skills we discussed, they also give you the chance to obtain college credit by passing AP Exams.
It is highly encouraged that young men and women participate in extracurricular activities. While the options at each high school may differ, Debate Club is an excellent option. In Debate Club, students learn to research topics, create arguments, present arguments in front of an audience and, verbally spar with other well-informed debate participants.
Next, we will discuss college prep. Colleges look at many factors when considering applicants. First and foremost, will be your grades. Getting good grades throughout high school displays persistence, commitment, and studiousness. Colleges also place high value on admissions tests such as the SAT and ACT. Students may do better one test or the other, so it is a good idea to study and prepare for both. It is possible to retake tests if students are disappointed or unhappy with their initial scores. Many colleges will ask students to submit an essay. This is to be a thoughtful and personal piece of writing. There is no formula to an excellent college essay. However, it should be well-written, well-edited, and show personality.
With all of these elements in place, students should be prepared for college.
College and Pre-Law
A Bachelor’s degree is necessary to attend law school. However, students are not required to pursue a pre-law degree.
As with high school, grades are extremely important. Many law schools require a minimum grade point average of 3.0, but it is best to aim for higher. There are always extenuating circumstances. Some students can secure admissions to law school with a GPA under 3.0, but these situations are rare and likely required exceptional LSAT scores.
As we discussed, it is wise to choose a major such as pre-law, economics or a business degree. In fact, the American Bar Association does not recommend and specific major to those individuals hoping to become lawyers one day. As with high school, the important thing is to develop skills that would be relevant to taking the LSAT, attending law school, and practicing as a lawyer. Such skills include reading comprehension, critical thinking, logic, and reasoning, as well as communication. Majors which may help develop these skills include Math, Political Science, Economics, English, Business, and Psychology. You should fully utilize college counselors, as they will be best equipped to provide you with advice regarding majors.
Your goal during college is to excel academically while preparing to apply to law school. Letters of recommendation are an important element of the law school applications process, so it is important to develop relationships with professors and other faculty members.
The LSAT or Law School Admissions Test is required for law school admissions. There is one exception. The University Of Arizona James E. Rodgers School Of Law is currently accepting the GRE in addition to the LSAT, meaning students can submit either test score for the admissions process. However, every other law school in the nation requires that aspiring law school students take the LSAT.
The test is only administered four times a year, so it is important to register early. Scores on the exam range from 120-180. The average score is around 150. Many LSAT prep programs recommend 150-300 hours studying. Studying can be done independently, or through an accredited program, whichever method is best for the individual student. It is possible to retake the LSAT, however, schools will see all scores.
Admissions offices comb through thousands of law school applications. The only way for them to learn who you are outside of your test scores and grades is through your personal statement. As the name suggests, a personal statement should be personal. It should tell your story. It should touch on your reason for pursuing a career in law. It should explore your motivations and your aspirations. This is also your chance to explain extenuating circumstances such as a low GPA. And finally, your personal statement should be well-written. We encourage you to let your friends, family, and professors read your personal statement and offer constructive criticism. Make sure you prepare your personal statement well ahead of time. As with most writing, it is best to revisit the initial draft after stepping away from it for a period of time.
Applying to Law School
Finally, now that you have completed all the of elements necessary for a law school application, you are ready to apply. Higher ranked law schools are more difficult to get in to. You should apply to as many as eight schools, but you should be aware, many application fees will cast as much as $100, so you should prioritize.
Now, after all of this work, we are going predict you have been accepted to law school! Congratulations! The work has just begun.
That is it for today. In a future post, we will discuss law school, passing the Bar exam, and your early professional career.