Many people dream of growing up to become a lawyer, and some adults even decide to make the career switch and return to school to pursue their dreams. Getting into law school and passing the bar exam might seem like your biggest hurdle, but there's far more to working in law than meets the eye. Exploring the pros and cons with a healthy dose of pragmatism will ensure that you make the best decision for your future. Keep in mind that it's okay to change your dreams; you may discover something completely unexpected that you're passionate about along the way!
A lawyer can provide general representation or choose to specialize in a particular sub-field of law. But in order to become a practicing attorney, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree, complete law school, and pass the bar exam. Lawyers need at least seven years of education, but many attend school for even longer. Once you've acquired a license in your state, you can begin offering services to clients.
Becoming a judge is one of the loftiest legal career ambitions, and it doesn't come easily. All judges start their careers as lawyers, and they spend many years representing different clients before they are eligible for a judgeship. There are many rigid qualifications in order to become a federal judge. Federal judges have first to become state judges, and they hold prestigious reputations in their jurisdiction. All federal judges receive nominations from the U.S. president, and, technically, they aren't even required to have a law degree. However, the likelihood of anyone becoming a federal judge without an extensive education and working experience in the court system is slim to none.
If you dream of a career in law enforcement, then you'll want to start off by completing a degree in criminal justice or forensic psychology. From there, you can apply to a local police academy and become an officer. In order to become a detective, you must first develop relevant work experience as an active duty police officer for three to five years before being promoted to a detective. Detectives, also called investigators, work for local, state and federal law enforcement organizations and use their knowledge of forensics and crime analysis to solve crimes. You should be comfortable dealing with graphic images and crime scenes as well as potentially coming face to face with dangerous suspects.
There are many other careers in law that you may enjoy. Paralegals work as an assistant to lawyers and only need a two-year degree. If you are diligent, detail-oriented and passionate about criminal justice, then this exciting field could be exactly what you're looking for.
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