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Career Profile: Attorney/Lawyer

Why Is Legal Representation a Job of Tomorrow?
Lawyers will always be needed to ensure that everyone receives equal representation in legal matters. Many of those who are shuffled through the legal system—for such reasons as personal offenses (an unpaid traffic ticket), domestic issues (neighbors feuding over the rightful ownership of property) and criminal offenses (being accused of assault, for instance)—are unable to defend themselves against those who are more experienced in court, such as representatives of the state. Attorneys make sure that their clients are treated fairly under the law, whether it's in court or other venues. Employment opportunities for lawyers are expected to grow 11 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Does a Lawyer Do?
Lawyers, also known as attorneys, act as representatives for their clients in legal matters. Lawyers are responsible for advising their clients and trying to give them the best possible outcomes for their cases. To do this, lawyers research previous laws related to cases, extensively consult with clients and examine the facts available to construct the best possible argument on behalf of clients. Not all attorneys are litigators in court, however. Some specialize in bankruptcy, international or environmental law. For example, a lawyer who specializes in environmental law may work with businesses that must deal with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Attorneys may also choose to deal with civil or criminal law. Civil law attorneys help clients draw up wills and contracts, whereas criminal law ones help clients who have been charged with a crime.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Lawyer?
Lawyers must have at least a bachelor's degree and a law degree from an accredited law school. Earning these two components typically takes students about seven years to complete. Law school is competitive, and applicants must prove that they are hardworking and competent individuals with sufficient educational background and working experience to gain acceptance. Law programs typically cover legal history, philosophy and research skills. All applicants must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to be considered for acceptance. After graduating, lawyers will need to pass the bar examination and seek certification in their state to work.