USA Career Guide- Lawyers & Attorney

Education needed to be Lawyers and Attorney

Lawyers usually spend 4 years in college, 3 years in law school, and then they must pass a written test known as the bar examination. Most states and jurisdictions require future lawyers to complete a juris doctor (J.D.) degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). ABA accreditation signifies that the law school—particularly its curricula and faculty—meets certain standards.
A bachelor’s degree is required for entry into most law schools, and courses in English, public speaking, government, history, economics, and mathematics are useful.
Many law schools, particularly those approved by the ABA, also require applicants to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a test that measures applicants’ aptitude for the study of law.


To practice law, lawyers must be licensed in the states they practice in or be admitted to the state’s bar association. All states require graduates to pass a state bar exam, and most states require graduates to pass an ethics exam. Becoming licensed as a lawyer is called being "admitted to the bar" and licensing exams are called "bar exams."
Most states require that applicants graduate from an ABA-accredited law school, pass one or more written bar exams, and be found by an admitting board to have the character to represent and advise others. Lawyers who want to practice in more than one state must often take separate bar exams in each state.
For more details on individual state and jurisdiction requirements, visit the National Conference of Bar Examiners.


After graduation, lawyers must keep informed about legal developments that affect their practices. In 2011, 45 states required lawyers to participate in continuing legal education either every year or every 3 years.
Many law schools and state and local bar associations provide continuing legal education courses that help lawyers stay current with recent developments. Courses vary by state and are generally related to the practice of law, such as legal ethics, taxes and tax fraud, and health care. Some states allow lawyers to take their continuing education credits through online courses.

Pay of Lawyers and Attorney

As reported by BLS the median annual wage of lawyers was $112,760 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $54,130, and the top 10 percent earned more than $166,400.

Job Prospects of Lawyers and Attorney

Employment of lawyers is expected to grow by 10 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for legal work will continue as individuals, businesses, and all levels of government will need legal services in many areas.

Industrial Overview of Lawyers and Attorney

Lawyers held about 728,200 jobs in 2010. A majority of lawyers work in private or corporate legal offices. Some are employed in local, state and federal governments. About 22 percent of lawyers were self-employed in 2010.
The following industries employed the most lawyers in 2010:
Legal services    51%
Government    18 %
Finance and insurance    3%
Management of companies and enterprises    2%
Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition

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