How To Become a Lawyer in Texas in 6 Steps
Updated September 30, 2022
Becoming a lawyer can lead to a rewarding and lucrative career. If you want to work as a lawyer in Texas, you must meet the state's requirements to practice. In this article, we explain what a lawyer does, discuss the work environment for this profession, share how to become a lawyer in Texas in six steps and offer salary and job outlook data for the area.
What does a lawyer do?
A lawyer is a professional who partners with clients to help them navigate court cases and filings. Many lawyers work for law firms, offering their services to people or organizations in need of legal support. Others may have private practices or work for a government agency, pursuing legal action on behalf of the state. Lawyers can specialize in various types of law and their responsibilities can vary depending on their area of practice.
Here are some duties that lawyers typically perform:
Preparing and filing legal documents like motions, briefs and deeds
Researching cases to understand their context
Requesting discovery documents to aid in their legal strategy
Developing a logical argument on behalf of their client
Advising clients on legal matters to help them stay compliant
Arguing their clients' cases in court
Interviewing witnesses and experts
Reviewing personal documents from their clients
Communicating with clerks and judges
Supervising and delegating tasks to paralegals and legal secretaries
Work environment for a lawyer
Lawyers typically work in an office, though their environment can vary depending on their specialty. If you'd rather argue in court than oversee legal paperwork, you might choose to become a trial attorney. Lawyers often work more than 40 hours per week due to their many responsibilities, and some cases might require you to work on weekends. People who manage work stress well and can set healthy boundaries may thrive in this career.
Related: 10 Jobs You Can Find in Law Offices
How to become a lawyer in Texas
Here are seven steps you might follow to start a career as a lawyer in Texas:
1. Obtain a bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is required so you can qualify for law school. You can pursue your choice of major as long as you attend an accredited institution. Majors that exercise skills like reasoning, problem-solving, analysis, research and communication may strengthen your skills for a career in law. Suitable areas of study might include philosophy, sociology, communications or English.
2. Pass the LSAT
The Law School Admissions Test is a standardized test that candidates take in hopes of earning a spot at a law school. This exam tests your logical reasoning, reading comprehension and writing skills. You can sign up to take this test on selected dates throughout the year at testing sites on university campuses throughout the state in cities like Austin, Houston, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Dallas and Abilene. You can find a location and register for your test on the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website. It's typically beneficial to study for the LSAT using practice materials you can find online or through your undergraduate institution.
3. Graduate from law school
The next step to a law career in Texas is to earn your Juris Doctor (JD) degree from a law school accredited by American Bar Association (ABA). It's not a requirement to attend as law school in Texas, but there are many ABA-accredited options in the state. These programs typically last three years and feature coursework on public speaking, the history and guidelines of the law, substantive law, legal research and problem-solving.
4. Take the Texas bar examination
After you graduate from law school, you can plan to take the bar exam. You can find study guides and resources from professional organizations, your law school or the Texas Board of Law Examiners website. Many people study full time for several months before taking the bar exam. If you plan to continue working or taking classes while preparing for the exam, it might be beneficial to start studying earlier to give you ample time. The version of the exam that Texas administers features four sections:
Multi-state bar exam
Multi-state performance test
Texas essay exam
5. Be sworn into the State Bar of Texas
If you pass the bar exam, you can be sworn into the State Bar of Texas. When you receive your scores in the mail, there's typically information about a ceremony where the association swears in new lawyers. After this ceremony occurs, you're officially able to practice law in Texas.
6. Seek a position as a lawyer
At this point, you can seek an entry-level lawyer position at a law firm, government agency or business. As you plan your job search, reflect on your interests and goals to determine the right environment and specialty for you. Many positions offer opportunities for lawyers to advance their careers and become partners. If you commit yourself to growth, it's possible to enjoy a fruitful career as a lawyer in Texas.
8. Continue your education to stay compliant
As a member of the State Bar of Texas, you must complete at least 15 hours of continuing education each year to keep your status. The state expects three of these hours to be on legal ethics. You can visit the State Bar of Texas website to learn more about compliance requirements. Continuing education can be an effective way to stay informed about updates in the field of law and commit yourself to ongoing improvement.
Salary and job outlook for a lawyer in Texas
Lawyers in Texas make an average salary of $58,386 per year. Income for lawyers can vary significantly depending on the specialty they choose and their level of experience, so remember that your individual salary may differ according to your circumstances. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that jobs for lawyers may grow about 9% over the decade, which is about average across all occupations. They also expect Texas to employ more lawyers than many other states in the country, so it could be a fruitful area in which to pursue a law career.
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.
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