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#166 How to become a lawyer (Pt. 3)

mp3 #166  Do You Want to Become a Lawyer? - Part Three (mp3 file)


This message will discuss the following questions:

9-May you practice law in California if you study law in another state?

10-What kinds of jobs are available to lawyers?

11-What are your job prospects?

12-What will be your responsibilities as a lawyer?

First, may you practice law in California if you study law in another state?

You may practice in California, if you graduate from an out-of-state law school approved by the ABA, take and pass the bar examination here, and are found to be of good moral character. If you want to practice law in California, you should discuss the requirements with the Office of the Committee of Bar Examiners, before studying law at an out-of-state school that the ABA has not approved.

You should know that a license to practice law in another state does not allow you to practice law in California. You either must pass the regular California bar examination or, if you qualify, a special examination for attorneys admitted in other states. However, you do not have to live in California or be a United States citizen, to be admitted to law practice here.

What if you study law in California, and want to practice in another state? If you pass the California bar examination and practice law here for a certain number of years, most other states will admit you to practice without requiring you to take their bar examinations. However, if you have not been admitted to practice in California and want to take the bar examination in another state, you generally must be a graduate of an ABA-approved school.

Next, what kinds of jobs are available to lawyers?

A number of lawyers practice with other attorneys in small firms of two to five attorneys, or in large firms that employ dozens of lawyers. Most law firms and lawyers handle many kinds of cases dealing with a variety of legal issues.

Others specialize in certain fields, such as criminal law or family law. Today, in addition to the traditional type of law firm, there are "public interest law firms" and "legal clinics". Public interest law offices specialize in cases involving social issues, or affecting a great number of people. Legal clinics handle typical everyday legal problems, such as adoptions, divorce, bankruptcy, and wills.

Some lawyers prefer to start their careers with law firms, so they can be supervised by and learn from attorneys who have been in practice for some time. However, as more and more lawyers enter the profession, there may be fewer jobs available at established law firms.

Lawyers who go into business for themselves are called "sole practitioners". For a handbook called Opening a Law Office, write to the California Young Lawyers Association, c/o the State Bar of California, 180 Howard Street, San Francisco, California 94105, for the current price of this handbook or visit www.calbar.ca.gov to order a copy online.

A number of lawyers help provide legal assistance to the poor, through groups like the Legal Aid Society. Some are involved in "group and prepaid legal services," which are "legal insurance plans" available to members of various organizations, some company employees, and individuals. Others, find employment as law school professors.

Attorneys work in district attorney and public defender offices. They also act as legal counsel to businesses and corporations, or for a branch or agency of the government. A number use their law school education to qualify for law-related jobs in business and government. Some people who have legal educations also are certified public accountants, or hold master's degrees in business administration, as additional qualifications for tax practice or for business management.

Next, what are your job prospects?

As a career, the law offers interesting and challenging work. It can be an opportunity to be of service to people, to earn a decent living, and to enjoy community respect, in exchange for hard work. Unfortunately, not all law school graduates are successful in finding the work they want. At the beginning of 2006, there were more than 148,000 practicing attorneys in California. The unemployment rate among new lawyers is sometimes close to the general statewide figure.

Some lawyers are working in jobs outside the legal profession, because they cannot find work as lawyers. Other lawyers are "underemployed." ·this means they practice law, but have too little work.

You might look into job prospects in other states, as well as in California. You also might consider the possibility of using the skills you learn in law school in other kinds of work. For example, the ability to analyze, counsel, solve problems, and communicate effectively, can be used in personnel, marketing, public affairs, and many other business and government jobs.

Next, what will be your responsibilities as a lawyer?

In order to practice law in this state, you must become a member of the State Bar of California. As a member, you must live up to the Bar's code of professional ethics, or risk being disciplined. As an arm of the California Supreme Court, the State Bar investigates lawyers who are charged with wrongdoing by their clients, by other lawyers, or by anyone else. What if these lawyers are found guilty of misconduct? They face a "reproval" or reprimand from the bar; they may be suspended from practice for a period of time by the Supreme Court, or they may be "disbarred" by the court.

Since there are new laws and changes in the law every year, it is important that lawyers continue to study, long after being admitted to practice. There are hundreds of legal workshops and seminars available to California lawyers each year in various parts of the state. Unlike some other states, California does not require lawyers to attend formal legal education courses. However, lawyers do have an ethical duty to be competent in the work they do. If a lawyer does not have the experience or skill to handle a particular case, he or she must not accept it.

Lawyers also contribute their time and professional abilities to helping the poor and other disadvantaged people, to causes that are in the public interest, and to other worthwhile volunteer activities.

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