5 Steps to Becoming a Successful Business Lawyer

From mom and pop shops to multinational corporations, all businesses have to take the law into account before going forward. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines, stiff penalties, and forced closings. These risks warrant the help of a legal professional. Enter the business lawyer.

Also known as corporate lawyers, business lawyers guide companies through the complex world of business law. They raise the alarm when the possibility of litigation appears and prevent legal entanglements that often spell doom for struggling startups. They’re worth every penny, and every sensible business owner knows to have a qualified lawyer on retainer, speed dial, or both.

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If becoming a business lawyer sounds appealing, the next step is to learn what it takes to do so. While by no means comprehensive or definitive, the following is a step-by-step guide to becoming a successful corporate lawyer:

Get into law school

Getting accepted into an accredited law school is your number one priority. To do so, you’ll need a four-year degree and a respectable LSAT score. If you already have a bachelor’s degree under your belt, then it’s time to move onto exam prep. Many aspiring law students prepare for the exam by attending Blueprint LSAT classes, but others find ways to prep on their own. Like all exams, the goal is to get the highest score possible, so whichever study method works for you is the one to use. You’ll also want to research each law school to learn what they like to see in prospective students to submit the best application possible.

Select a specialty

Most law schools allow students to pick a specialty in their final two years of study. Those interested in becoming business lawyers need to focus on courses relevant to that avenue of the law. These courses cover things like accounting, real estate, contracts, intellectual property, and employment. Now is the time to decide if business law is actually what you want to focus on or if you’d rather pursue other areas of the law. While it might be too late to turn back on becoming a lawyer, you at least have the chance to adjust the type of law you want to specialize in after graduation.

Graduate from law school

Nobody wants to rack up thousands of dollars of student loan debt without getting the degree. With this in mind, those in law school need to work diligently to pass the final exams with flying colors. It’s no time for fun and games. This is the moment when you buckle down and get to work. Everything else – at least for the time being – needs to go on the back burner until you’ve graduated. But wait – you haven’t crossed the finish line yet – you need to pass the bar.

Pass the bar exam

It’s possible to graduate from law school but never be able to practice law. That’s because, in order to become a licensed lawyer, you need to pass the state bar exam. The bar examination is meant to ensure all practicing attorneys are qualified experts of the law. Most states hold the bar exam once or twice a year, often syncing up with local law school graduations. The good news is, if you fail, you’ll be able to retake the exam at a later date. With that said, it’s an unwritten rule that you pass the first time around, so do everything you can to make it happen.

Join a law firm or company

If you happen to live in or near a major city, consider looking for law firms that specialize in business law. However, most business lawyers find jobs working directly for companies. The drawback is most companies want to see several years of professional experience before hiring someone as an in-house attorney, so consider a third option out of the gate: growing a list of clients consisting of small business owners. Establish a small practice and manage their affairs for a year or two before moving on to bigger fish. Or, remain where you are and make a career working for small business owners on a case-by-case basis.

Continue your education

Lawyers don’t have much say in the matter; most states require lawyers to participate in a set number of hours of educational sessions per year. It’s a rule designed to ensure attorneys are kept abreast of the latest updates and changes to the law. It’s also an effective means of polishing your skillsets and expanding your expertise, so why not give it a try without being forced?

Businesses big and small need lawyers now and then. If that sounds like an appealing career option, and you’re serious about becoming a lawyer, then now’s the time to make it happen.

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