Class Action Attorney: Job Description and Requirements

Sep 19, 2019

In order to become a class action attorney, you need to attend law school to obtain a JD degree and pass your state's bar exam. This career, after fulfilling its extensive education requirements, could be a good choice if you have strong research and communication skills, in addition to an interest in civil law.

Essential Information

Class action attorneys represent clients in class action lawsuits, cases in which an individual or group sues on behalf of all individuals who share the same grievance. This career requires a law degree (specialization in civil law recommended) as well as state licensure to practice law. This career might appeal to individuals with interests in the legal system, mediation, and communication.

Required Education JD degree (specialization in civil law recommended)
Other Requirements State license to practice law
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% for all lawyers
Mean Wage (2018)* $144,230 for all lawyers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Class action attorneys counsel clients, investigate potential cases, draft complaints and motions, and argue before the court. They often specialize in an area like consumer fraud, employment law or personal injury.

Education Requirements

To become an attorney, one must earn a Juris Doctor (JD) from a law school that's been approved by the American Bar Association. These programs generally include courses in criminal law, civil procedures, property and contractual law, torts, ethics and legal writing. Students learn to integrate theory and practice through simulated court proceedings.

Within their JD programs, aspiring class action attorneys might opt to pursue a concentration in civil law. Students on these tracks typically can choose from classes such as the following:

  • Arbitration
  • Civil procedures
  • Community property
  • Environmental law
  • Donations and trusts
  • Immigrant rights
  • Negotiation and mediation
  • Sales and leases
  • Security rights
  • Trial advocacy

Licensure Requirements

After earning a JD, an aspiring class action attorney must pass the bar exam in the state where he or she would like to practice. These 2- to 3-day exams generally consist of essay questions that gauge an applicant's knowledge of state laws and general legal principals and ethics. Most states also require candidates for licensure to undergo an intensive character and fitness investigation. Once an attorney is licensed, he or she will have to satisfy continuing education requirements.

Experience Requirements

To work as a class action attorney, one should possess strong research and writing skills, as well as a solid academic background. Based on a survey of job postings, law firms hiring class action attorneys sought candidates with 3-5 years' experience. In particular, these firms were looking for attorneys with experience drafting motions for summary judgments, arguing motions at hearings and working tort cases.

Class Action Attorney Salary Information and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that in 2018, the middle half of attorneys in the U.S. earned from $79,160 to $182,490 per year. The BLS also indicates that job growth for lawyers in general is expected to increase by 6% between 2018 and 2028.

In summary, licensing, experience, and educational requirements make the road to becoming a class action attorney fairly long. These lawyers identify and pursue cases for an individual or group suing on behalf of a larger group with the same grievance. The career is considered lucrative, and job growth in the next decade is expected to be as fast as the national average.

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