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Bankruptcy Lawyer: Job Duties & Requirements

Find out what a bankruptcy lawyer does. Learn about the education and skills requirements, in addition to the salary and employment outlook, to decide if this career is for you.

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Career Definition for a Bankruptcy Lawyer

Bankruptcy lawyers help clients navigate through business or consumer bankruptcy courts. Bankruptcy lawyers must understand the intricacies of their clients' cases in order to file legal documents, advise clients about appropriate actions, and present cases in court.

Education Law degree, passing score on the written bar examination
Job Skills Mathematics, negotiation, research, writing
Median Salary (2015)* $115,820 (all lawyers)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (all lawyers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Prospective bankruptcy lawyers first must earn a bachelor's degree and be accepted to law school. Then, they must pursue a law degree, which can take two to four years to complete. Aspiring lawyers may practice law only after passing the written bar examination for his or her state.

Law schools often offer night and weekend courses that allow professionals to complete their degrees on a part-time basis. Courses bankruptcy law professionals might take include negotiation and mediation, commercial law, and intellectual property law.

Skills Needed

Bankruptcy lawyers must have both litigation and transaction skills. They also must be skilled in analysis, negotiation, writing, and math. Because bankruptcy law can be confusing, it's important that bankruptcy lawyers have the communication skills necessary to explain procedures to their clients.

Economic Outlook

Lawyers in general can expect average growth of 6% in their industry over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for all lawyers was $115,820 in May 2015, according to BLS figures.

Alternate Career Options

An education in law can prepare you for a variety of similar occupations, including legal support and presiding over court hearings and trials.

Paralegal and Legal Assistant

Most of these professionals earn an associate's degree in paralegal studies, or a certificate, if they already have a bachelor's degree in another field. They provide a support function to lawyers, often organizing files, drafting documents and conducting research. From 2014-2024, an above-average growth rate of 8% was predicted by the BLS, and median salary of $48,810 per year was reported in 2015.

Judges and Hearing Officers

Many of these professionals, particularly judges, normally have already earned law degrees and have gained experience working as lawyers. They supervise the legal process in action in the courts, applying the laws to court cases. Job growth for judges and hearing officers is expected to decline 1% from 2014-2024, the BLS said, partly due to governmental budgetary limitations. In 2015, the BLS reported a median wage of $90,600 for administrative law judges, adjudicators and hearing officers.

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