Personal injury law has a number of benefits. It can pay well, if you’re successful in landing a steady stream of clients. It can be more exciting than contract law, and you can make a major difference in the lives of your clients. Here are the 10 steps to becoming a personal injury lawyer.
Step 1: Complete a bachelor’s degree.
The first step to becoming an attorney is completing a bachelor’s degree. The most popular bachelor’s degrees for future lawyers include political science, business, history, and psychology. While pre-law is a popular choice, we don’t recommend it because the program doesn’t increase your odds of admittance to law school. A side benefit of earning a degree other than “pre-law” is that it makes it easier to find employment if you don’t go to law school or fail to pass the bar.
Step 2: Take the LSAT.
The LSAT or Law School Admission Test is the standardized test used to verify that someone has the necessary skills to succeed in law school. The highest possible score on the LSAT is 180, while the average is 150. Top law schools restrict admission to those with a score over 160.
Step 3: Attend law school.
You cannot become a licensed personal injury attorney without graduating from an ABA approved law school. In most states, you can’t take the bar exam without graduating from such a school. We’d recommend choosing schools with a high percentage of graduates who pass the bar exam on their first try.
Step 4: Pass the bar.
Passing the bar exam is a requirement to practice law almost everywhere. Only four states allow you to entirely skip law school and still practice law, while three states sometimes allow an apprenticeship to substitute for one or two years of law school. Note that you won’t be allowed to work as an attorney in other states if you skip the bar exam.
Step 5: Network.
Networking should begin in law school, but it must start upon graduation. Connect with current law students and practicing attorneys, so that you can secure a job upon graduation. After all, law school is expensive.
Step 6: Get experience.
The ideal scenario would be working part-time as a clerk in a law office while attending law school. However, not everyone can juggle school and work, much less earn a high GPA. This means you’ll need to get experience as an attorney upon graduation. Ideally, you’ll work for a law firm and gain several years of experience before opening your own firm.
Step 7: Consider taking the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE).
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination or MPRE is an ethics exam. It is required in a number of states. Having this under your belt makes it easier to get approved to practice law in another state.
Step 8: Cultivate your network
Get connected. Talk to doctors and insurance reps that can refer you clients. You may or may not be able to take these clients with you when you start your own firm, but they can refer new clients to you when you’re independent.
Step 9: Win cases.
You’re not going to stay in business if you don’t have an income. And that comes from clients. You’ll see a steady stream of referrals from prior clients if you win their cases.
Step 10: Continue to grow.
Continue learning, because case law is continually evolving. Learn about technologies that can help your business from case management software to digital marketing tools to promote your business.