Law Students

What You Need to Know Before Law School
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Summary: Be prepared for all aspects of the legal industry come graduation time and entering the real world of practicing law.

Nowadays, law school students understand much more of what is required of them in law school and after. However, there are likely still some areas that prospective law school students are unsure of or don’t fully understand. These four topics covered by U.S. News are often confusing for those looking to enter law school. Start learning all you can now so you will be even more prepared come graduation time.

  
What
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Bar Exam

In order to practice law, you have to do more than just graduate from law school. You must pass a state bar exam. There are some jobs that allow you to work without passing the bar but it will not involve practicing law.

To make preparing for the bar exam easier, attending a law school with strong bar passage rates is a good start. Each state has its own bar exam so prepare for the one in a state you plan on working in. Some graduates plan on practicing law in more than one state. This may require them to take more than one bar exam if they plan on working for a big law firm or in a region that is close to state lines. However, some states have reciprocity rules that allow you to waive the state bar if you are licensed in specific states, have been practicing for x amount of years, etc. Check the requirements well in advance so you know what you are up against.

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Postgraduate Opportunities

While most of your energy and time is going into your law school application, it doesn’t hurt to have a plan for after law school. There are a number of opportunities beyond just working as an associate at a law firm, as an in-house counsel, in a clerkship or other government positions. Look into positions such as support staff at a law school, teaching, banking and finance, and as law firm professionals. Explore alternative options now so you will know if they are the right fit for you before it is too late. Try networking with those in these positions to get a feel for what the job requires.



Work-Life Balance

Everyone knows that a work-life balance suffers for many with a law degree working in major law firms. If having a rigorous work schedule is what you are willing to have for a job you love doing, then you know what direction to head. If having a balance is more important, then you may need to consider jobs other than as an attorney at a big law firm. Smaller law firms and smaller markets may be a more appropriate option for your wants.

Billable Hour System

Those working in a law firm will quickly learn how the billable hour system works but you should have a general understanding before. Some law firm clients pay a flat fee or an alternative fee arrangement but most pay for legal services by the hour. In order for clients to be willing to pay by the hour, the work must be tracked efficiently and effectively. The way this is done is by lawyers accounting for their billable time in six-minute intervals. This method of accounting for time spent ensure firms are compensated properly for the time spent. New associates must be able to keep pristine records of billable work since it not only affects the fees the firm can collect but the associate’s own bonus for billing hours.

What else can prospective law students do to learn more about the industry? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about how to prepare for a legal career, read these articles:

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