Should I Become an Energy Attorney?
Attorneys help individuals resolve legal disputes by researching laws, writing legal documents, representing clients before courts, arguing cases and negotiating settlements. Licensed attorneys can practice in any field of law. These particular lawyers choose to specialize in energy law. This work may become stressful when court appearances are necessary.
|Degree Level||Juris Doctor (J.D.)|
|Certification and Licensure||License required; BAR exam|
|Experience||Gain experience in law school and as first-year associates; related experience beneficial|
|Key Skills||Critical thinking, negotiation, research and writing skills; analytical reasoning|
|Salary||$115,820 (2015 median salary for all lawyers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Job listings from employers (September 2012), Payscale.com (July 2015)
Getting into this career requires the completion of an undergraduate degree, graduate law degree and passing the bar exam. Key skills include critical thinking and analytic reasoning, as well as negotiation, research and writing skills. In 2015, all lawyers earned a median annual salary of $115,820, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now let's check out the career steps for energy attorneys.
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Step 1: Earn an Undergraduate Degree
Prior to attending law school, aspiring energy lawyers must graduate from an undergraduate degree program. There is no specific field of study required to attend law school. However, many students choose to major in an area like English, history or political science. Bachelor's degree programs in energy law, engineering, policy and other related areas can provide students with knowledge about the workings of the energy industry and ways energy is used and developed.
Step 2: Take the LSAT
Admission to law school requires submitting Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores. This test, which students usually take during their junior year of undergraduate study, tests an examinee's logic, critical thinking and reasoning skills.
It's important to prepare for the LSAT. Admission to law school is competitive and usually depends on an applicant's LSAT scores and undergraduate GPA. Preparing to take the LSAT could increase an examinee's test score. LSAT test prep courses that offer tips on taking the exam are available.
Step 3: Graduate from Law School
Law school programs are available on a part- and full-time basis, with full-time programs typically requiring three years of study. During the first year, students in these programs complete courses in basic law topics, such as constitutional, criminal, civil, tort and property law. Over the remaining years, students complete elective courses and an internship or judicial clerkship.
To really concentrate your studies, take energy law classes. Many schools offer courses on energy law. These classes, which are usually electives, may be available during the regular school year or in the summers. Completing these classes can provide students with in-depth knowledge about energy law, contracts and policies.
Step 4: Pass a Bar Exam
According to the BLS, every state requires that lawyers pass an exam to be admitted to its bar association and be eligible to practice law. Each state's exam differs, but may include multiple days of testing in the form of multiple-choice and essay questions.
Remember to prepare for the bar exam. Failing a bar exam prevents a lawyer from practicing law, which makes preparing to take the bar exam essential. Many companies offer multi-week exam prep courses that teach test-taking tips. Completing one of these courses can increase the chances of passing the exam on the first try.
Step 5: Work as an Energy Lawyer
After passing a state's bar exam, attorneys can practice any field of law, including energy law. The government and private law firms hire energy attorneys. Many times, these attorneys must have several years of experience working in the field.
It's important to complete continuing education. Some energy institutes and research centers offer continuing education for energy law for practicing attorneys. Attending these programs can ensure that lawyers possess the most up-to-date information about energy law.
Step 6: Consider Additional Education
A Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Energy Law or a degree program in a related field can provide in-depth instruction in the field. The curriculum for these programs might cover topics like pollution control, natural resource law, land use planning and international environmental law. LL.M. programs are intended for individuals with a J.D.
To recap, with an undergraduate degree, law degree and licensure, energy attorneys can make about $116,000 a year to help individuals resolve legal disputes by researching laws, writing legal documents, representing clients before courts, arguing cases and negotiating settlements, especially those pertaining to energy law.