What Courses to Take to Become a Lawyer

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Undergraduate Degree

Law schools do not require a specific undergraduate degree to be admitted to law school. Instead, law schools look for students with writing, debate, speaking, and English skills. Undergraduate classes that build these skills will help prepare prospective attorneys for law school and their future career.

Writing skills are needed for creating professional legal documents. Debate and speaking classes are beneficial to prepare attorneys to argue cases in court. English skills will assist attorneys in speaking and writing with proper grammar so the attorney's work will be taken seriously by others.

Another suggestion for undergraduate work is to major in a topic that builds the foundation for a particular field of law. If a future law school student wants to be an environmental attorney, choose a major in science, biology or chemistry. If native English speakers want to work with clients that speak a language other than English, it makes sense to major in the language of choice.

Law School Curriculum

Each law school will have its own required and elective classes. Law school usually takes three years. During the first year, students will take law classes that give them a solid understanding of the basics of law.

First year law students will learn about civil procedure, criminal law, legal research and legal writing. Civil procedure courses teach investigative skills and how to present a case in court. Criminal law prepares students to represent clients accused of breaking a local, state or federal crime. Legal research is necessary to discover the laws and cases that that apply to the case at hand. Legal writing courses teach students the legal lingo and proper formats of documents that must be filed with the court or served on witnesses.

Second year law students usually take Constitutional law, rules of evidence, and legal ethics. After taking those basic law courses, second and third year students can choose to specialize in a certain area of law or take general law classes.

Students can specialize in civil litigation, estate planning, business, Constitutional, employment, environmental, real estate or tax law. For example, those who want to specialize in employment or business law will take courses on business organization, employee rights, and business insurance.

Prospective law school students can speak with an advisor who will guide students to the right courses to prepare them for a successful career in their field of choice.

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