Debt Collection Attorney: Job Description, Information and Requirements

Debt collection attorneys require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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All lawyers must complete a bachelor's degree, graduate from law school with a Juris Doctor degree, and then pass the state bar exam in order to be eligible to practice law. Debt collection attorneys focus on collecting money that is owed to their client.

Essential Information

A debt collection attorney is a type of lawyer that helps a business legally obtain payment from debtors who haven't been cooperative in paying what's owed. To become debt collection attorneys, candidates must complete law school and earn a Juris Doctor; they must then pass the bar examination to be licensed with the state.

Required Education Juris Doctor
Licensure/Certification Admittance to the American Bar Association for state licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for all lawyers
Average Annual Salary (2015)* $136,260 for all lawyers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Contract Attorney Job Description

An attorney interacts with citizens to help them navigate legal matters. Attorneys work to represent parties in civil or criminal cases, or counsel clients on legal matters. What differentiates a contract attorney is their lack of a permanent position in a law firm. A contract attorney may still be involved in the same types of cases as permanent members of law firms, including elder, bankruptcy, environmental or contracts law proceedings. However, contract attorneys are only commissioned and paid on a case-by-case basis. For this reason, they are sometimes also called freelance attorneys.

Contract Attorney Duties

Contract attorneys may be called upon to perform the necessary tasks for any case that they take on. These are the same tasks that any other lawyer would perform, and include researching, preparing legal documents and advising clients. Depending on how involved a particular case is, a contract attorney could work on it for a few days or a few months. Because contract attorneys usually specialize in a particular area of law, they may be called upon to work cases within their specialty in order to ensure that they are well equipped to handle any duties that may arise.

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Contract Attorney Requirements

A contract attorney must follow the same educational path as any other attorney. In total, it takes about seven years after high school to become an attorney. Students first obtain a bachelor's degree in the field of their choice. Even though this undergraduate degree does not have to be in a specific field, it should include classes that encourage proficiency in the skills that lawyers use every day, such as researching and speaking. Once a bachelor's degree is obtained, the student can take the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, and apply for law school. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the LSAT is required by all law schools that are approved by the American Bar Association.

After successful completion of law school, students have to pass a bar exam in order to be licensed in the state in which they plan to practice law. A contract attorney who has been admitted to a state's bar can then begin to take contract assignments.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for attorneys in general were expected to increase by 6% from 2014-2024. Although salaries specifically for contract attorneys aren't published by the BLS, an average annual wage of $136,260 for attorneys in general was reported in 2015.

Debt collection attorneys may work for many clients at a time, and the duration of their service can vary from a few days to several months. Their task is to collect money from people who haven't paid for services that their client provided. They can advise their client on possible courses of action and pursue legal steps to ensure their client is paid.

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