Personal Injury Protection: 7 Steps to Becoming a Lawyer for Personal Injuries
October 3 2019 - The number of law student applications continues to rise as new graduates realize what a rewarding career they can have as a personal injury lawyer.
The salary of a lawyer is great - but the personal satisfaction of helping those in need receive justice is even greater. If you want to work in law, however, there are several steps to get there.
Follow these essential steps to becoming a lawyer to follow in the footsteps of many great attorneys.
Is Personal Injury Law Right for You?
Before you decide to become a personal injury lawyer, it's important to know what it entails.
You'll work for people either pursuing litigation for, or defending themselves against, claims that a company, workplace, or individual has caused them to suffer injury.
You can be a general personal injury lawyer or specialize even further. For example, you might want to work only for people who bring lawsuits against accidents caused by negligence in the workplace.
Personal injury law is a rewarding practice - but it takes a lot of hard work to get there.
Your First Step: Getting a Degree
You'll need to earn a degree before you can move forward in your career. This means studying for four years on a 'pre-law' course. Unlike pre-med, which new doctors must take before medical training, you don't have to take a specific pre-law major.
Law schools like to see applicants who have opted for challenging majors and scored a high grade. Courses that encourage lateral thinking or technical subject matter, such as engineering, are of great interest to law schools. It shows you can tackle complex challenges and have a well-rounded education before specializing in law.
6 More Essential Career Steps to Becoming a Lawyer
You're studying your four-year college degree - great! But what are your next steps to becoming a personal injury lawyer?
1. Take the LSATs
As well as a high grade on your college degree, you'll need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) exams. These five exams will give you a grade to present on your law school application.
You'll need to demonstrate several types of learning comprehension in these multiple-choice tests, including comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning.
2. Choose a Personal Injury Niche
There are many types of personal injury law specialist areas that you may want to consider.
For example, you might want to be an auto accident lawyer dealing exclusively with those involved in road vehicle collisions. Or you may feel your calling is in handling medical negligence cases.
A niche will help you to find a relevant job role and give your career further direction, too. This will help you to decide which areas of law you'd like to continue to study and excel in.
You won't need to know your niche before you apply to law school - but it helps to start thinking about how you want to specialize so you know which schools will suit your long-term goals the best.
3. Apply to Law School
As you near the end of your college degree, research and apply to law schools that you'd like to study at.
The ones you can apply to will depend on your GPA and LSATs score: the most competitive and prestigious schools require very high results as well as evidence that you're a well-rounded individual. Make sure you highlight your extra-curricular activities as part of your application to show that you have plenty of transferable skills relevant to becoming an attorney.
Your law course will involve the first year of general law, covering a wide range of subjects. Subsequent years include core and elective courses: this is where you can start to specialize as a personal injury lawyer.
4. Take an Internship
A great way to boost your education and make you an attractive new hire for law firms is to take an internship. You can do this during the summer break or alongside your law degree.
Taking an internship will take up a lot of your time but the experience you gain is invaluable. It'll allow you to learn from practicing attorneys and receive their mentorship as you learn the process for handling personal injury lawsuits.
An internship gives you real-world experience of live cases to help you learn how to approach lawsuits when you're a qualified lawyer. Many interns go on to secure paid positions at the firm they've interned at, once they pass their law degree, too.
5. Pass the Bar Exam
The American Bar Exam eligibility requirements vary by state. It is a two-day assessment: the first day involves the Multistate Bar Examination, which covers a broad range of law subjects such as contract or criminal law.
The second day is set by the state. This usually involves the Multistate Essay Examination and Multistate Performance Test, as well as state-specific competency tests.
Your character and fitness to practice will also be assessed. This includes a background check on your personal history such as any previous incidents involving the law, your family, or any conflicts of interest you may encounter as an attorney.
6. Continue Your Legal Education
Once you've passed the Bar Exam, you can apply for your first job as a licensed attorney. This is where you start to work with clients directly, representing them in lawsuits and being the lawyer you've worked so hard to become.
However, if you don't continue your legal education as you practice law, it's easy to fall behind your peers. Continuous education is important to make sure you keep up with changes to the law - but it also shows your clients that you're committed to delivering the best service.
Look at professional associations at both a state and national level, join their networking opportunities, and take any professional exams they offer.
Mentorship and Networking Is Essential for Ongoing Success
Once you've followed the steps to becoming a lawyer, what's next? Instead of sitting on your laurels when you've passed the bar and got your first job, it's important to continue networking.
You never know when your contacts could help you solve a difficult case or provide you with valuable mentorship and support. Being an attorney can be a stressful life, too, so it's important to build a network of peers who understand what it's like.
Read our other blog posts to find out how to network as a law student and new attorney - and how to build strong friendships in a competitive field.
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