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There are a few people you need to have on speed dial: your doctor, your hair stylist, your mechanic, and, of course, your lawyer. But what if you were the lawyer on speed dial?
Lawyers are always in need, and it’s a good job if you can get it–the median salary in 2017 was $119,250.
But what does it take to become a business attorney? We’re here to help you figure it out, and show you the steps you need to take to pursue your dream of corporate law.
What is a Business Attorney?
But first, let’s lay the foundation. What is a business lawyer?
As the name implies, they’re a type of lawyer specializing in law as it pertains to businesses. But it’s more useful to think of corporations.
A corporation is a complex entity, treated as a person that can be sued and legally separate from its owners and shareholders. Corporate or business law encompasses all the possible legal issues a corporation or other business may face, as well as addressing the numerous rules and regulations governing them.
Want to check out a real business attorney? Read more at Rosenbaum PLLC. They cover everything from antitrust litigation to contracts to joint ventures to corporate governance and more.
Should You Become a Business Attorney?
This brings us to the next question: should you become a business attorney?
That depends on what you’re interested in, what lifestyle you want to lead, and what your talents are.
Most people think that arguers make great lawyers. In reality, good lawyers are excellent communicators with solid judgment, good interpersonal skills, and even better analytical skills.
But you also need to consider your work environment. Corporate attorneys work primarily in business settings and may be employed by a large corporation, a private firm, or a government agency.
Just don’t get too attached to your free time–successful lawyers often work well beyond 40-hour workweeks, especially when they’re preparing for a case.
What Education and Training Do You Need?
To become a lawyer of any kind, you need an advanced degree and a great deal of professional training.
All lawyers who intend to practice law must acquire a juris doctor degree, which is considered the first degree in law (your bachelor’s degree for lawyers, if you like). Some lawyers may also pursue a Masters of Law (LLM) degree or a Ph.D., particularly if they wish to pursue advanced legal studies.
In order to practice law, you’ll also need to pass the bar exam, which is part of the process that certifies you to practice law in your state of choice.
How to Become a Corporate Lawyer
With all of this in mind, let’s talk about the process of becoming a corporate lawyer.
It’s a lengthy and trying process–there’s a reason for the stereotype of a broke, stressed out law student without time to eat lunch.
And if you’re picturing something like Law and Order, get that out of your head. Lawyers do a surprisingly diverse amount of work, and not every lawyer goes to court.
Get Your Degrees
It all starts with getting your degrees.
You’ll need to do well in your college courses (aim for killer grades if possible) and you’ll need to do well on the LSAT. Most law schools will view these scores as indicative of how you’ll perform in their program, so you want to dazzle them.
It doesn’t matter as much what you study in undergrad, as long as you love it and you do well at it, though some majors tend to perform better on the LSAT than others (philosophy majors, for example, tend to do well on the LSAT logic section, and writing majors thrive on the essay and reading comprehension).
From there, you’ll need to get into law school. You want safety schools you’re assured of getting into and dream schools that would work magic for your resume. Do your homework about the best schools for your legal specialty.
But keep in mind–the best law schools in the country want perfect or nearly-perfect LSATs. Dream big, but don’t forget to be reasonable about where your scores can get you.
And whatever you do, do not only apply to your first choice school.
Gain Some Experience and Develop Your Specialty
The work isn’t over once you’re in law school. It’s time to pull out all the stops to impress your future employers.
For starters, talk to professionals in your field, or start with your law professors. Ask them about what they do and any tips, recommendations, and insight they’re willing to provide.
Do your homework about law firms that practice in the city and specialty you’re interested in. Call them for informational interviews, and spend your summers between law school working law internships at the best firm you can find.
You should also join professional networks–this is a great way to get plugged into any news, information, and professional events. It’s also a good way to get involved in debates around the law, which will show employers that you know your stuff.
Pass the Bar
The party’s not over yet! Once you get your J.D., you need to pass the bar exam.
The process for doing this depends on where you’re taking the bar. But in general, it’s not as easy as simply showing up for the test–you have to register for the exam, which will launch a background investigation. If you pass the background check, you’ll receive your ticket of admission to take the bar.
If you’re taking the Florida bar exam, check out this checklist.
Secure Your Career
After you pass the bar, it’s time to secure your law career.
It’s a good idea to interview on-campus with law firms while you’re still in law school. Most law schools offer these on-campus interviews to students in their third or fourth year of study.
To do this, you’ll submit a resume and other application materials for each job you want to interview for. The school will review them before disseminating them to employers. If you’re selected, you can attend the interview.
In the best of all possible worlds, one of these interviews will go well and the job will offer you a position conditional on passing the bar. But you’ll also want to apply to the jobs you find online, and follow up personally with the HR manager.
Furthering Your Career
Now that you know what a business attorney does, are you ready to take your career to the next level?
Check out our blog for all kinds of tips and tricks to make the most of your job interview, like this post on how to impress any hiring manager. Or, if you’re earlier in the process, take a look at our education section to make the most of your college experience.