Should I Become an Injury Lawyer?
An injury lawyer is an attorney who focuses his or her practice on injury cases, which usually involves helping clients resolve personal injury legal disputes resulting from traffic incidents, workplace accidents, product malfunctions or other wrongful acts. The practice of injury law typically includes large amounts of trial work. They may interview witnesses, take depositions, draft legal documents, research laws, represent their clients before judges and engage in settlement negotiations.
Almost all lawyers, including injury lawyers, work full-time, with many working more than 40 hours a week. Generally, lawyers work in office settings; although, travel to clients or courtrooms may be required. The educational path to becoming a lawyer is long, but most have the potential for high income.
|Degree Level||Juris Doctor (J.D.)|
|Experience||Specific experience in injury law not required for entry-level roles|
|Licensure and Certification||All states require licensure; specialty certifications available|
|Key Skills||Critical thinking, analytical reasoning, negotiation, research, writing, problem-solving and customer service skills|
|Salary||$114,970 per year (2014 median salary for all lawyers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop, LawyerEdu.org
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
The majority of law schools require that applicants possess a bachelor's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is no specific field of study required to attend law school. The American Bar Association reports that some common undergraduate majors include English, political science and business.
Step 2: Pass the LSAT
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) evaluates an individual's analytical reasoning skills. This half-day test includes reading and critical thinking questions. This test is normally taken during the junior year of undergraduate study. Law school applicants must include their scores in their applications.
Prepare for the LSAT. Private companies offer LSAT-prep courses that can familiarize students with the test's contents and provide advice on test-taking techniques.
Step 3: Graduate from Law School
Law school requires three years of full-time study. First-year law students complete a curriculum of core law courses in topics like civil procedure, torts, contracts and property law. Second- and third-year students complete elective courses, judicial internships and clinical experiences. An internship with a civil judge may introduce a student to common trial proceedings. Some schools offer law students the opportunity to concentrate their studies in civil trial practice, which is a common area of focus for injury lawyers. Concentrations in advocacy, civil litigation or dispute resolution may provide in-depth knowledge about advocating for clients.
- Take elective courses in personal injury law, health law or advocacy. Completing elective courses related to injury law can provide aspiring lawyers with a solid foundation in the field. Schools may offer classes in health law, pre-trial civil litigation and trial evidence.
Step 4: Pass the Bar Exam
According to the BLS, every state requires that lawyers be admitted to their bar association to practice law. Admission usually requires passing a bar exam and a professional responsibility exam. The format of each state's bar exam differs, but may include several days of testing of both multiple choice and essay questions.
- Prepare for the bar. Many companies offer multi-week bar exam prep courses. These courses provide aspiring lawyers with information about bar exam contents and also provide test taking techniques. Some law schools may also offer bar exam prep courses that include preparation for specific state law questions.
Step 5: Consider Specialized Certification and Education Options
Attorneys wishing to demonstrate their expertise in injury law can obtain specialty certification with their state's law board. In the state of Texas for example, lawyers can obtain certification in personal injury trial. Injury lawyers may also build their expertise by completing a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree program in trial advocacy. These programs include courses in discovery and preliminary hearings, and may provide advanced knowledge about prosecuting injury cases. Some programs also include internships at local courts. Completion of specialized training can lead to better job prospects as an injury lawyer at corporate law departments, liability insurance groups or private law firms.