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Litigation Attorney: Employment Info & Requirements

Discover the education and licensure requirements to work as a litigation attorney. Find out the median salary for attorneys, as well as some alternative career options.

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Career Definition for a Litigation Attorney

Litigation attorneys represent clients who have civil complaints against other people or entities. Civil laws cover a range of issues, including real estate, noise control and human rights. Litigation attorneys handle clients' complaints through all of the steps required by law for litigation to occur. Some of those steps are: filing a complaint with the court, deposing witnesses and delivering summonses. In court, litigation attorneys present their client's case and the legal remedy the client is seeking.

Requirements Bachelor's and law degrees required; state bar exam
Job Skills Excellent written and oral communication skills, interpersonal skills
Median Salary (2017)* $119,250 for all lawyers
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 8% for all lawyers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

All attorneys must complete a bachelor's degree and a law degree from an accredited law school. Aspiring litigation attorneys take general law courses, like constitutional law, courtroom presentation and negotiation procedures. Those specializing in litigation law may also take classes in real estate law, occupational safety, regulatory law and business ethics.

Licensure Requirements

Before practicing law in any state, attorneys must pass the bar exam in the state they wish to practice. Attorneys who meet a state's requirements, including passing the state bar exam, are admitted to that state's bar, and can be called licensed attorneys. Attorneys must complete courses on a regular basis to keep their license.

Skills for Success

Litigation attorneys need excellent written and oral communication skills to present cases in a court of law. Strong interpersonal skills are valuable for working with other legal professionals and clients from diverse backgrounds.

Economic Outlook

The demand for attorneys is expected to continue, with average job growth of 8% in the field between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In particular, civil litigation attorneys will continue to be needed for civil cases against the United States. The BLS reports the 2017 median annual salary for all attorneys, including litigation attorneys, as $119,250.

Alternative Career Options

Listed below are alternative careers for anyone entering the field of law:

Paralegal

Those interested in working in the legal field who don't want to go to law school might explore paralegal careers. Paralegals work in law offices and assist attorneys with legal research and writing tasks. Education requirements for paralegals vary, but many complete an associate's degree. Job growth for this paralegals and legal assistants, according to the BLS, is expected to be above average at 15% from 2016 to 2026. In 2017, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for paralegals and legal assistants was $50,410.

Arbitrator

Arbitrators are typically licensed attorneys, like litigation attorneys, but instead of representing clients in courtrooms, arbitrators judge legal disputes outside of the court. Although many arbitrators are lawyers, some are not, and qualifications for non-lawyer arbitrators vary by jurisdiction. Lawyers must complete a bachelor's degree and a law degree, and they must be admitted to a state bar. Some arbitrators may complete additional education related to arbitration.

The BLS expects the occupational group of arbitrators, mediators and conciliators, who all work to settle disputes out of court, to grow at a faster-than-average pace of 10% from 2016 to 2026. In 2017, this group had a median salary of $60,670, according to the BLS.

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