Lawyers advise and advocate for people, corporations, and other institutions in a wide variety of legal matters. In
civil and criminal trials, lawyers present evidence on behalf of their client. Non-trial lawyers advise their clients
about their legal rights and obligations related to business and personal matters.
Lawyers interpret the law by studying the outcomes of past cases, legal literature, and other sources found in print
material or by computer. All information shared with a client must remain strictly confidential. Lawyers hold positions
of high responsibility and are obligated to conduct themselves according to a strict code of ethics. It is the
responsibility of lawyers to represent their client's best interests while upholding the law.
Lawyers generally specialize in a particular aspect of law. The majority of lawyers work for private practices that
specialize in civil and criminal law. Criminal cases occur when an individual is charged with breaking a law. Civil
cases may involve disputes related to wills, trusts, contracts, mortgages, titles, leases, and civil rights. Other
lawyers may become expert in legal domains such as tax law, real estate law, bankruptcy law, or corporate law. These
lawyers may work for individuals, companies, or government institutions where much of their work involves providing
legal advice as opposed to trial representation.
Educational and Training
In the U.S., lawyers may need the following education and training:
- a bachelor's degree from a 4-year college which should include courses in English, foreign language, public speaking,
government, philosophy, history, economics, and mathematics
- a graduate degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (this degree usually takes 3 years
- Each state or jurisdiction requires that a person be licensed in order to practice law. In order to obtain licensing,
candidates must possess a law degree (see graduate degree requirement above), pass a written bar exam, and pass a
separate written ethics examination.
Career Path: Employers look for candidates with experience working for school newspapers and internships with news
organizations. Most reporters start their careers at small, local news organizations where they gain experience. With
experience, reporters are given assignments that are more difficult and glamorous.
On the Job
Lawyers may divide their time between the office, law libraries, and the courtroom. Sometimes lawyers meet with
clients in homes, places of business, hospitals, or prisons. They may also travel to the scene of a crime, dispute,
accident, or claim in order to review evidence related to a case. Lawyers may work very long hours.
Math on the Job
Lawyers must be able to organize facts and their relation to relevant laws in order to form a logical argument that
best represents their client's interests. They do this by researching information relevant to a case, and then composing
written or verbal arguments to support their client's interests. Lawyers must pay attention to detail and craft
arguments that are strongly supported by the evidence that is available.
You can get more information about the legal profession from the
American Bar Association (ABA)