Career Profile: Lawyer
Are you interested in the law? Lawyers are intelligent, perseverant and outspoken individuals responsible for promoting the rights and values of their clients. They do incredibly varied work, from drafting a house deed to suing corporations for damages to defending our rights in court. Studying the law is a lot of work, but it is incredibly rewarding. If you’re looking to be on the front lines of one of our most important social institutions, this career is one worth fighting for.
Here’s an overview of the process and requirements you need to become a lawyer.
• An undergraduate university degree (4 years). There is no requirement for what field you wish to major in — many future law students pursue a degree in social science or communications, but law schools definitely accept students from all fields.
• The LSAT. You must score high enough on the Law School Admission Test to meet your chosen law school’s cut-offs. (As well, you must meet the GPA standing with your undergraduate degree.)
• Law school (3 years).
• Articling (10 months — you apply for a position between 2nd and 3rd year). Basically, this involves working under the guidance of an already qualified lawyer. You get paid, too!
• The Bar. Finally, you must pass the Bar Admission Course including its required exams.
If you’re looking to become a lawyer, there are a variety of fields of law to explore, including:
• Criminal – often popularized in movies or TV; deals with criminal offenses and offenders. Positions are either defense (speaking on behalf of the accused) or Crown attorney (prosecuting on behalf of the government).
• Corporate – deals with the relationships between corporations or businesses, including contracts, taxes, etc.
• Public Interest – involves doing legal work for public interest groups, directly linked with human rights, education, and aid
• Torts – deals with personal injury law; filing lawsuits on behalf of your client, who was wronged in some way by another
• Family – deals with marriage, divorce and custody of children
Your duties as a lawyer vary depending on the field you’re in. Most lawyers conduct research for cases, consult with clients, present cases in court and file lots of paperwork. If you’re looking for an easy ride, being a lawyer is not the job for you — it’s an incredibly demanding career, requiring a lot of skills, determination and hard work. That being said, the higher the risk, the higher the reward: lawyers are often paid quite handsomely for their efforts, especially in the private sector.
If you’re opinionated, determined and love a good debate, a career in law is something worth investigating. Don’t let the lengthy process discourage you: you can do anything you set your mind to if you’re passionate about your work. For all you future lawyers out there — study hard and be prepared for the career of a lifetime.