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Lawyer - Immigration Law Specialist: Career Profile

A lawyer specializing in immigration law requires significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and licensure to see if this is the right career for you.

As a lawyer who specializes in immigration law you'll work closely with individuals involved in immigration cases. You'll need to have superb communication skills, an analytic albeit empathetic mindset and concrete knowledge of immigration law in order to be successful in this profession.

Essential Information

Lawyers who specialize in immigration law most commonly represent and advise clients during immigration proceedings. They may work in law firms or on their own. Some work for the federal government, helping to create and enforce immigration laws and representing the government in court cases. Like all attorneys, they hold a law degree and have passed the bar exam in the state where they practice. During law school, students may be able to take courses and gain some experience in immigration law.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in any field, Juris Doctor degree
Licensure Required; candidates must pass their state bar examination
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for all types of attorneys
Median Salary (2015)* $115,820 for all types of attorneys

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Job Description of Immigration Law Specialists

Lawyers in this specialty field represent people in court, as well as advising clients about their rights and other legal concerns. Those specializing in immigration law most often represent individuals in cases involving immigration issues, an increasingly prominent concern in our society. These professionals often work in law firms or have their own private practices.

According to USAJOBS, attorneys specializing in immigration law may be able to find work with government agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security (www.usajobs.gov). Immigration law specialists who work for the federal government may be called upon to offer advice relevant to creating, interpreting or enforcing immigration laws. Further, these attorneys may formally represent the federal government in trial or appellate proceedings.

Becoming an Immigration Law Specialist

Aspiring immigration attorneys usually begin their education by completing bachelor's degree programs. While law schools typically do not require particular undergraduate majors, it is important that future law students develop strong reasoning and communication skills during their undergraduate studies.

After obtaining bachelor's degrees, those who would like to specialize in immigration law must undergo an additional three years of law school. During law school, students learn to analyze, recall and present complicated information in convincing ways to a courtroom full of people. They often take courses in torts, constitutional law and civil procedures, among other topics. Upon graduating, new lawyers must pass a written bar exam in order to become licensed by the state in which they plan to practice law.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median yearly salary of all types of lawyers was $115,820 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also estimated that job opportunities for lawyers in general were projected to grow 6% from 2014-2024, as fast as the national average for other occupations. However, the job field will continue to be competitive due to high law school enrollment rates and fewer employment opportunities.

Attorneys, despite specialization, face similar challenges such as long hours, stressful environments and a highly competitive field. Immigration law is no different, and just like other law specializations, it can be a monetarily and personally enriching profession.

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