How to become a Successful Lawyer in the United States

In the United States the demand for legal services continues ,the demand  increases or decreases  depending on the  prevailing economic factors. There is no doubt that there is a high level of competition in the legal job market and there is also an increasing number of law students waiting to enter the market. In such a competitive world, before deciding to study law it is important to decide future career options in the US carefully.

Becoming a lawyer usually takes 7 years after high school of full-time study , 4 years of undergraduate study, followed by 3 years of law school. Most states and jurisdictions require lawyers to complete a Juris Doctor (JD)  degree from a law school. It  is accredited by the American Bar Association. The specific requirements for becoming a lawyer in the United States vary depending on the state or territory where you decide to practice law. However, the basics are the same throughout the country.

becoming a lawyer in the united states

Skills Needed to Become a Lawyer

According to the  American Bar Association  to become a lawyer you must possess the following skills:

  • There must be ability to orally communicate well
  • A skill in applying applicable law to the facts of each case
  • must have good Vocabulary
  • must be good in reasoning skills
  • The ability to understand complex written material as well as to write clearly and concisely
  • Good memory is equally important
  • Clear listening skills

To become a lawyer in the US as a foreigner, foreign lawyers have to sit for the bar exam and pass it to be eligible to practice in the state’s jurisdiction. But be minded that merely possessing a law degree from a foreign country doesn’t make you eligible to take the bar exam.

4 main stages in becoming a lawyer in the United States

1. Completing a Bachelor’s Degree

Choosing from several subjects will help you prepare for law school. It is usually advised that courses in English, political science, history, and economics can be completed within a variety of majors. It  can give students an idea of the area of law they want to pursue. It has been observed that to gain entry into the right law school  it is very important to perform well in your undergraduate degree.

Although an LLM is not a necessary qualification to have when you want to become a lawyer in the United States, many of the skills needed can be learnt or at least enhanced by studying an LLM program. Essential skills such as reasoning, presentation, research and communication skills are all an intrinsic part of studying an LLM program.

2. Pass the Law School Admission Test

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a core component of the law school In the admissions process along with an undergraduate degree. An objective measure to assess the knowledge and quality of applicants, admissions officers generally use scores from the LSAT . The examination includes five multiple-choice question sections and an unscored writing sample. The LSAT measures candidates’ skills in critical areas of future legal work,information management, including reading comprehension, reasoning, analysis and critical thinking,and argumentation.

3. Enrolling into Law School

All the Lawyers are required to pursue  a degree called Juris Doctor (JD) degree from a law school. It is accredited by the ABA. Students are shortlisted based on several criteria including GPAs, LSAT scores, statement of reason, etc.

4. Sitting for the Bar Exam

In order to practice law every state takes the bar exam from law graduates and only after that you can be a lawyer. While each state is offering their own exam, some states adopted the general Uniform Bar Exam.  This exam allows lawyers to practice in any other state that accepts this exam. The board that conducts this exam is the National Conference of Bar Examiners . It is  composed of questions from the Multistate Essay Examination, Multistate Bar Examination and Multistate Performance Test.

Some states allow the interested students to take the bar exam before  graduating from  law school. For helping students in the exam preparation, students enroll in bar review courses. It will assist them in substantive law, reviewing tests, drafting, and training in multiple choice questions.

5. Earn a Juris Doctor Degree

The Juris Doctor, abbreviated as JD, is the nationally recognized degree for practicing law in the United States. This degree is offered by 205 ABA-accredited law schools currently. Prospective students should have knowledge of the   areas of study, faculty, tuition, and curriculum before applying it as a course. There are numerous specialties within legal practice.  The  students must go for a program that offers a focused curriculum in their area of interest.

6. Advance Your Career

There are lots of  opportunities for lawyers to advance their careers. Freshman lawyers generally start out as associates. He closely worked  with seasoned lawyers to hone their craft. After doing several years of successful practice, the attorneys may rise to become partners in a firm. Some others may choose to open their own law office. Others also  move beyond practicing law , they become a judge or may shift into public positions.

Lawyers may also pursue further education at both the master’s and doctoral levels. The Master of Law and Doctor of Philosophy are two common choices for lawyers interested in careers involving research and academic scholarship.

What majors do lawyers most?

The most popular major of law school candidates is political science. There is a reason that  many successful politicians have first done law in terms of  lawyers. The link between law and political theory is very strong. Political science is the study of political behavior, government systems, and how the judicial system works.

lawyer career

Cost of Law

According to the U.S. News and World Report annual survey the average cost of attending a private law school is 43,020 dollars. If the aspirant attends a public law school it costs an average of $26,264 for in-state residents and 39,612 dollars for out-of-state students.

Salary in Law career

Law careers have always been some of the most lucrative in the United States. Depending on their location and specialty, lawyers can make as much as 200,000 dollars a year, which is considerably more than people make in most other professions. In 2020, the average salary of a lawyer was approximately 12,410 dollar a month, which amounts to about $148,910 a year.


Given all these details about how to become a successful lawyer in the United States, I am sure you’ll get proper structure about how to approach law if you are serious about pursuing this career. Lawyers are in high demand and so, if you’re really passionate about pursuing law, you can be sure that a bright future is waiting for you so, even if you have to take a small students debt to complete your education, it will be paid off within a year or two when you start earning by becoming lawyer.

Lana Martinez is a freelance technical writer living in the Santa Clara. She's a gadget and tech geek who loves to write how-to articles about a wide range of topics. When she's not writing about technology, Lana loves watching and reading mysteries, cross stitching, and attending musical theatre. She's also an avid Doctor Who fan.