When someone is injured or killed through the negligence of another, personal injury lawyers are there to help. If you’re looking for a fulfilling and lucrative career helping clients get the justice and compensation they deserve for injuries and wrongful deaths, then a career as a personal injury attorney could be for you.
But how do you become a personal injury lawyer? You’ll need at least seven years of education – a four-year bachelor’s degree, plus seven years in law school. You’ll need to network effusively and practice skills like research, writing, and public speaking during your school years to land a job once you graduate from law school.
Get the Right Education
You need the right education to become a lawyer. Start with a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. You don’t need to major in criminal justice –, while it won’t hurt, it won’t help, either.
Most students who go on to law school major in a field like political science, journalism, English, history, or sociology. Just about any major will do as long as it presents ample opportunities to perform research and hone your writing skills.
Take the LSAT
You’ll need to take the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, to get into law school. You will need to score in at least the 50th percentile to get into a good law school, so take test preparation seriously. The higher your LSAT, the better your chances of getting into a good school and the more scholarship money you’ll be awarded.
The LSAT is offered on Saturdays in June, December, September, and February. If you observe the Sabbath on Saturdays, you can register for a special mid-week session.
If you don’t do as well on the LSAT as you hoped the first time, you can take it again. If you take the test twice and still don’t get an adequate score, however, you should reconsider your career prospects.
Choose the Right Law School for You
The right law school for you is accredited and located in the area in which you want to practice. Most law schools place their graduates with local firms and government offices, so unless you’re able to score a place in one of the few programs with national reach, you’re going to end up spending your career in the same area where you studied.
So, if you want to become a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, go to a school near LA, if you want to be a Largo personal injury lawyer, for example, you should go to a school near Largo.
Since you want to practice personal injury law, the program you choose should offer elective courses like Evidence, Complex Litigation, Advanced Torts, and Trial Advocacy. You should also look for programs that offer the opportunity to participate in legal clinics so that you can start to gain professional experience before you graduate.
Apply to Law Schools
Your law school application will need to include your university transcripts, your LSAT score, your statement, your letters of recommendation, and perhaps an addendum to your statement explaining any irregularities in your application, such as poor grades, criminal convictions, or any punishments you received for plagiarism or cheating as an undergraduate.
You will need to register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) and upload your credentials. The CAS will assemble your credentials into a packet that will be sent to law schools on your behalf.
You may also qualify for a law firm law scholarship, which can greatly assist you financially as you study and reduce the student debt load upon qualification.
Network, Network, and Network Some More
You will need to network diligently to build connections that can help you succeed in your legal career. Participate in legal clinics. Worked as a summer associate in local firms. Participate in informational interviews with local attorneys who work in personal injury law.
Cultivate strong relationships with your professors – and don’t forget to make friends among your law school cohort as well. One day, the people you went to law school with will mature into valuable professional connections.
Set the Bar Exam
You will need to pass the bar exam to practice law. The bar exam is usually offered once during the winter and once during the summer and consists of both multiple-choice and essay questions. Many law school graduates need to take the bar exam more than one time to pass, so don’t despair if you fail on your first attempt.
Get Work as a Lawyer
Once you have been admitted to the bar, you can begin working as a lawyer. Your law school should help place you in a job with a local firm or government office, but if you can’t find a job, contact your professional connections. You may be able to find piecemeal overflow work with local firms, which is better than nothing.
Becoming a personal injury lawyer is a lot of work, but it can be very rewarding to help injured and grieving people. Put in the time to prepare for this career, and you’ll find that personal injury law is a great way to earn a living and make a difference.