Should I Become a Credit Attorney?
Attorneys help individuals involved in a legal dispute resolve their problem. Typical job tasks include writing legal documents, researching laws, representing clients in court or other legal proceedings, making arguments to a court on the client's behalf, and negotiating settlements. A licensed attorney can practice any field of law, and those aspiring to work in the area related to credit could focus their legal practices on consumer law. Lawyers often work long hours, and appearing in court may be stressful for some individuals.
Credit attorneys help individuals resolve disputes involving their credit scores. They represent clients against insurance and collection agencies, companies claiming client's insolvency, and even the IRS.
|Degree Level||Juris Doctor (J.D.)|
|Licensure||All states require that lawyers be licensed and pass the bar exam|
|Key Skills||Critical thinking, analytical reasoning, negotiation, research and writing skills, comfortable with public speaking and interacting with strangers, various software for accounting/billing and document/project management, knowledge of legal research software such as LexisNexis and Westlaw|
|Salary||The median salary for all lawyers was $114,970 in 2014|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop
Step 1: Earn an Undergraduate Degree
Most law schools require that applicants have a bachelor's degree. There is no field of study required to attend law school; however, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many law students complete undergraduate courses in history, economics, or government. In situations where a bachelor's degree isn't required for law school entry, students would usually have to meet a minimum number of completed hours from undergraduate studies and then complete the remainder of the degree requirements in a degree completion program.
- Prepare for the LSAT exam. Due to the highly competitive nature of the law school admission process and the fact that admission to law school often depends on an applicant's Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score, individuals might benefit by completing a LSAT prep course. These courses, which are usually offered by private companies, provide instruction about test taking techniques that may increase an examinee's score. Students contemplating law school should prepare to take the LSAT in their junior year of undergraduate studies. The LSAT is a multiple-choice test offered four times a year and includes five 35-minute sections. Students are measured on their reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning skills. If a student doesn't obtain a desirable score on the exam, there's a limit of three retakes with three years.
Step 2: Complete Law School
Full-time law school programs require three years of study and award graduates a Juris Doctor (J.D.) upon graduation. The curriculum of the first year of these programs includes classes in basic law topics such as criminal and civil law, torts, and property. The majority of the second and third years of study consist of elective classes, but students may also participate in judicial internships or volunteer at clinics.
- Take elective classes about consumer credit law. Some elective classes may cover consumer law and related topics. Completing courses in these topics provides students with in-depth knowledge of the laws and regulations related to consumer credit.
- Volunteer at a consumer credit clinic. Some schools operate legal institutes that focus on consumer credit issues. Volunteering to work at one of these institutes provides students with hands-on experience working with consumer credit law. Law students could represent real clients in court and learn interviewing, negotiation, and trial preparation techniques.
- Prepare for the bar exam. Not passing the state's bar exam means that an individual cannot practice law. Therefore, preparing for the exam is essential. Many private companies offer multi-week prep courses for bar exams.
Step 3: Pass the Bar Exam
The BLS reports that every state requires lawyers to pass a bar exam prior to their practicing law. Although the format of each state's exam differs, multi-day, multi-format exams are common. Usually, these exams test an examinee's knowledge of national and state laws through multiple choice and essay questions.
Step 4: Work as a Consumer Credit Attorney
After passing a state's bar exam, individuals can practice consumer credit law. Private companies and law firms hire consumer law attorneys. Sometimes, available positions with private companies may require several years of experience working in the field.
Meet continuing education requirements. To maintain a law license, individuals should contact their state to learn about the number of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) hours required. For example, some states require new lawyers to complete MCLE after two years of practice, while other states require annual MCLE reporting. Lawyers can typically complete online, classroom, DVD/CD, and webinar courses for credit.