How do I Become a Personal Injury Lawyer?
In order to become a personal injury lawyer, you must undergo an extended school schedule to learn the complex principles of law. This includes attending a four-year university in order to obtain a bachelor's degree in your chosen major, followed by attending an accredited law school. There are certain majors which may enhance your ability to be accepted into more prestigious law schools, but it is generally up to you which four-year degree you will obtain.
Be sure you attend an accredited and accepted university to get your degree, and be sure to discuss your plans to enter law school with advisors as soon as possible. This will ensure that you take classes that may help prepare you, or allow you further information in studying for your law school admission test (LSAT). The LSAT is a required exam taken by all new entries into law school, with a specific score being needed to enter into each particular school.
Test preparation is crucial for students planning to take the LSAT. Books and study manuals are available as well as practice tests to allow students to have a trial run before taking the actual exam. This will allow you to get an idea of where your strengths and weaknesses are, and help you relax more while taking the real test.
Once you have passed your exam with acceptable scores, you will likely have to attend law school for at least three years in order to become a personal injury lawyer. You may also take additional courses in handling this type of case, or intern for a practicing personal injury lawyer to gain firsthand experience in the field. To become an intern, you may be connected to an attorney through your law school, or find one yourself by speaking with attorneys in your area and asking about student internships.
Once you have successfully completed law school, you will then have to complete a final or bar exam in order to practice law in your area. To be eligible to practice in other areas as well, you will likely need to take additional exams for those locations. Find out if any specialized training or testing will need to be completed for practicing personal injury law. This is not generally the case, but every location is different.
Continuous training and additional licensing may be required to practice as a self-employed individual or to start your own law practice. Be sure to check into these things before practicing on your own. For most beginning lawyers, working in an established law practice is the best way to begin a successful career and gain experience. Working with an established personal injury lawyer on cases is the quickest route to learning the trade.
@Markerrag -- another option is to get hired on by an established firm that has a healthy personal injury practice (no pun intended). You will get to work on plenty of cases and can have the security of a steady paycheck -- something that people who strike out on their own don't have in the early days.
For people wanting to go that route, make sure to pursue a clerkship at the office where you want to work while you are still in law school. If you do a good job as a legal clerk, you have a decent shot of getting hired as an attorney after you graduate and pass your bar exam.
One of the most important things an aspiring personal injury lawyer can do is pick the location where he or she wants to practice. For example, let's say you want to be a solo practitioner. That's fine, but you will have a lot of competition if you set up practice in an area where there are a bunch of lawyers. There are more than a few attorneys who dream of setting up a successful personal injury practice and making a lot of cash. That is very possible, but the competition will be fierce if you are one of hundreds of lawyers trying to attract the same types of cases.
You might consider looking at a smaller town that doesn't have a lot of attorneys in it. People still get hurt in more rural areas and need representation, so the odds of picking up those personal injury cases can be better in smaller areas that haven't attracted a bunch of attorneys.
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