Becoming a great lawyer takes years of practice. To really make a difference in the justice system and become great, you need to be passionate about your job and committed to helping your clients. You have to stay abreast of changes in the law, and be flexible, responsive and resourceful.
While being a lawyer takes dedication and hard work, there are many attributes that you can find in most great lawyers. Every great lawyer needs to be resilient, self-motivated, confident, creative, and have the qualities of a natural-born leader. When a lawyer loses a case, they need to be willing to get back up and fight harder for the next one or for the appeal. Even when a lawyer feels that they may not win a case, they need to be willing to push themselves and find new ways to approach the case so they can do the best job possible for their client. Thinking outside of the box and never giving up can make you an extraordinary lawyer. In addition, having good judgment and the willingness to take risks will allow you to win your cases and outsmart your opponent. Taking care of one’s self and guarding against burnout is important as well.
As a lawyer, you also need to be persuasive and investigative. To win a case, you must be willing to go deep into research to find out as much as you can about the case issues and law, your client, the judge and the defendant. Building a good team will impact your success. In addition, being a lifelong learner and being open to change can make you an outstanding lawyer. Because the justice system and new laws are constantly being added or modified, you need to be able to adapt to a changing society to help your clients. Taking continuing legal education classes and keeping abreast of changes in the law in your field can help in this regard.
Becoming knowledgeable about the law likely will help you the most. In order to become a lawyer, you need to ensure that you have a strong educational foundation. This means that you first must acquire an undergraduate degree and then must perform well on the LSATs in order to get into law school. Once at law school, you will study the law thoroughly and learn all about constitutional law, property law, legal writing and more. Many law schools employ the Socratic method, which arms attorneys with ways to think about legal issues. Finally, you will prepare to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) and, afterwards, you will need to pass the Bar Exam.
Remember that, as a lawyer and officer of the court, it is important to always be fighting for positive and productive change to improve the justice system. All attorneys should do pro bono work to help people gain equal access to the courts and work to make important systemic changes to the law. While having the attributes described above and going through all the schooling won’t guarantee you become a great lawyer, they are a great start on your road to success in law. Ultimately, if you work hard enough and are passionate about the law and helping people, you will make an impactful change in people’s lives. A legal career can be tremendously rewarding and worth the necessary hard work and dedication.
Author and intern, Bella Neal, is a rising senior at Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and hopes to pursue a career in law.