You may be drawn to a career in law by a passion for justice, a desire to serve or hopes for a political career. However, you'll also need tenacity. The career typically requires four years of undergraduate education and three years of professional school. After that, you'll have to complete state licensing requirements, including passing the bar exam. If you have the necessary skills, you'll have a better chance of success as a lawyer.
Lawyers need strong interpersonal skills to interact with clients of many types. They need empathy, patience and the ability to gain their clients' trust. An outgoing personality is an asset is helping clients become comfortable and willing to disclose personal information.
Observation and Focus
Lawyers must be keen observers to size up clients and opponents. They must have the ability to concentrate completely on the issue at hand and block out distractions. In court, for example, they must listen carefully to testimony and the opposing lawyer's arguments.
Memory and Learning Skills
During the three years of law school, prospective lawyers must memorize a lot of information on laws, cases and precedents. Once they graduate, they must demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter by passing the bar exam. During the entire career, lawyers must keep up with changes in their particular area of practice. In most states, lawyers must complete continuing education to maintain licensing.
Research and Analytical Skills
Research skills are essential for a lawyer to look up the laws and precedents that govern each particular case. Lawyers must also need keen analytical skills to digest large amounts of information and determine what is relevant. They need the ability to put facts and arguments in logical order to develop a convincing case. When they go to court, they must find the flaws in the opposing arguments and refute them.
Public Speaking Skills
Speaking on behalf of clients is a major part of a lawyer's role. Whether meeting with opposing attorneys in a law office or representing clients in court, they must present their client's case clearly. When speaking before a jury, they need the ability to make complicated legal matters plain to lay members of the public.
2016 Salary Information for Lawyers
Lawyers earned a median annual salary of $118,160 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, lawyers earned a 25th percentile salary of $77,580, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $176,580, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 792,500 people were employed in the U.S. as lawyers.