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A blog about law school, the legal profession, the legal industry, legal mentoring, and more...

Basics of the Legal Profession

What is a lawyer? 

We all know that lawyers are a type of legal professional, but so are paralegals, judges, and legislators. What, then, is a lawyer

A lawyer, more precisely known as an attorney, is a professional who is licensed under either state or federal law to give clients legal advice and represent them in legal matters. According to the American Bar Association (the official organization which regulates the legal profession), lawyers have two main duties: first, to uphold the law, and second, to protect the rights of their clients. 

This definition may seem broad, but it is important! Lawyers must be licensed in order to give legal advice, even outside of the courtroom or the boardroom, and bar associations take this rule very seriously. For a person who is not a licensed attorney to give legal advice to a paying client is known as the unauthorized practice of law. In many jurisdictions, the unauthorized practice of law is...

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Law School Basics: Beyond Classes

In our last Law School Basics post, we went over the basics of the Juris Doctor, or J.D. We talked about the process of getting a J.D., typical first-year (i.e., 1L) classes, and other American Bar Association requirements for accredited law schools. But what do students do, outside of their required classes? What kinds of activities do law students participate in?  

Common Law School Activities

There are many voluntary extracurricular activities and programs in which law students may choose to participate. Some schools may require these activities, but they are often optional. The most common activities are Law Review (i.e., working on one of the law school’s student-run legal journals), mock trial, moot court, and legal clinics. 

Although these activities are generally not strictly required by law schools, they are nonetheless extremely popular. This is because, in addition to being rewarding for many students, there are numerous advantages to participation....

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Law School Basics: From Juris Doctor to Attorney

So, you’re thinking about a career as an attorney. Perhaps you dream of standing before a judge and jury, passionately advocating on behalf of your client. Or, maybe you dream of making BigLaw money and closing deals as part of a Mergers and Acquisitions team. While different types of legal careers can vary widely in form and substance, they share one common starting place: law school.

What is a J.D.? 

In the United States, the most common path to working as an attorney begins with obtaining a postgraduate law degree, called a J.D., or Juris Doctor. Most states require a J.D. in order to obtain a legal license. Postgraduate degrees, including the J.D., are earned after a bachelor’s degree. So, to become an attorney, students must generally complete both a four year bachelor’s degree and a three year law degree. [1] 

People with undergraduate degrees in any major can go to law school and earn a J.D., so long as they take the Law School...

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