Attorney Career Path

Are you thinking of becoming an Attorney or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become an Attorney, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Attorney job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

How To Become an Attorney

There are many attractive opportunities for seasoned attorneys. You may work your way up to a partnership, become a judge, or even join your law school's faculty. If you're interested in pursuing a career in the legal system and you're not sure where to start, follow these steps:
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1

Assess your soft skills, like persistence and confidence.

It's important to understand the full range of your professional skills. Particularly, your soft skills truly matter in this career field. Attorneys tend to be enterprising individuals who have an investigative mind. Certain traits play a prominent role in preparing you for this challenging yet rewarding career, including:

  • Strong ambition.
  • Assertiveness.
  • High energy.
  • Enthusiasm.
  • Confidence.
  • Curiosity.
  • Optimism.
  • Persistence.
  • Persuasiveness.
  • Motivation.

2

Earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited university.

Before becoming an attorney, it's necessary to earn your bachelor's degree. This career typically requires seven years of full-time study, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and significant continuing education requirements.

It's best to earn your bachelor's degree from an accredited university. While most law schools don't require a specific major, English, politics, or social science are common avenues for students. If you have an interest in a specific legal domain, consider earning your undergraduate degree in that subject. For example, budding family lawyers may benefit from courses in psychology and sociology.

What type of degree should you pursue to become an Attorney?

100% of people working as an Attorney earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be an Attorney?

  • Writing
  • Law Degree
  • Excellent Communication
  • VERBAL Communication
  • IN Spanish
  • Confidence
  • juris Doctorate
  • juris Doctor Preferred
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as an Attorney in the United States.

3

Pass the LSAT exam.

Before you enroll in law school, you must pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This standardized entrance exam measures your affinity for this path's rigorous curriculum. You must score high enough on the LSAT to compete against other capable applicants, so plan to study well for this test. The test is scored on a scale of 120-180.

4

Attend law school.

An aspiring attorney must earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from an American Bar Association (ABA) accredited school to meet most state licensing requirements. Many law schools consider your undergraduate GPA, your LSAT score, and your extracurricular activities to determine if they'll offer a place of admission. After you pass your entrance exam and gain admission to a law school, you'll typically spend the next three years learning how to practice law.

5

Volunteer with local law firms.

Many professors encourage law students to seek part-time internships with local firms while in school. These voluntary positions provide you with practical, real-world experience that complements your studies. You'll want to reach out to institutions like community legal clinics, partner firms, or public law firms for a summer position. Additionally, you could participate in your school's competition and mock trial programs.

6

Pass the MPRE.

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a two-hour ethics assessment consisting of 60 multiple-choice questions. It's a prerequisite to the bar exam, and every U.S. state, except Wisconsin, Maryland, and Puerto Rico, requires it.

7

Sit for the Bar exam.

The next step is to sit for the Bar exam. Your state's Bar Association administers this complicated written exam, and your goal is to get a passing grade. Once accepted by the state board of bar examiners, you'll receive your license and can begin looking for an attorney job in your jurisdiction. Many students spend up to a year studying for the Bar exam.

8. Continue your education annually.

As you continue in your career, you may find that your workplace requires you to continue your education. Many states require attorneys to take various continuing education courses, either annually or every three years. These certifications help keep you current on changing laws that affect your practice.

Seniority Levels

L2

Attorney

2 - 4Years of Experience
$130,000 /yrAvg. Annual Salary
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20% advanced to

L3

Senior Attorney

2 - 4Years of Experience
$169,500 /yrAvg. Annual Salary
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L4

Attorney IV

5 - 7Years of Experience
No Salary Reports
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Salary Trajectory

Attorney Career Path

$550K
$413K
$275K
$138K
$0
L2
L4
L6
L8
Seniority Levels

Related careers in the Legal Industry

Interested in other Legal careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Attorney skills. Discover some of the most common Attorney career transitions, along with skills overlap.