Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

How to Become a Trial Lawyer

It is the job of a trial lawyer to represent their clients in court regarding criminal and civil issues. They take the facts in a case and use them to try to convince a jury in their client’s favor. They follow a complicated set of rules to present or dispute evidence that may or may not support their client’s position. Along with arguing cases, days in court are spent meeting with judges, selecting jurors, and preparing scheduling orders. But preparing for a trial can take a lot of time, so trial lawyers do not spend all of their time in court. Days their cases are not being presented to a judge are spent doing investigative work, such as reading through files, contacting witnesses, taking depositions, and talking to clients.

Anyone who wants to be a trial lawyer must first go to law school. To qualify for admission, applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree. While there is no prelaw degree, those wanting to go to law school commonly pursue undergraduate studies in the areas political science, business, economics, and social sciences. It is important for anyone looking to apply to law school to try to obtain a multidisciplinary educational background, which will help them develop the knowledge and skills necessary for studying law. Acceptance into law school can depend on one’s aptitude for studying law, which is typically determined through undergraduate grades and scores achieved on the LSAT, known as the Law School Admissions Test. The LSAT assesses one’s logical and verbal reasoning skills, and the exam may include sections on logical reasoning, reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and a writing sample.

Law school typically takes three years to complete and begins with courses studying constitutional law, property law, civil procedures legal writing, torts, and contracts. Student may choose to take courses that focus on specific areas of law, such as tax, labor or corporate. Recent law school graduates go through somewhat of a mentoring process, where they spend much of their time assisting experienced lawyers through legal research, fact gathering, record organizing, and document presentation. By doing the grunt work they learn about the case building process and obtain useful experience that will help them to build their own careers. Lawyers just beginning their careers will then begin to sit in on trials, participate in conferences with judges, and prepare arguments. Considering the seriousness of the law, it isn’t until they have proved themselves in the small things that beginning lawyers are given the responsibilities of an entire case. They then can begin independently developing their careers as trial lawyers.

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