Ask A Lawyer: Becoming An Attorney

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Welcome to the monthly “Ask A Lawyer” article. In this segment, Haute Lawyer asks our attorneys your burning questions so that you can receive informed and well-rounded answers from the top attorneys in the nation. This month’s topic is about what it takes to become an attorney.

What advice would you give someone who wants to become a lawyer?

Gavin Tudor Elliot, Business Law & Business Litigation, South Florida

“Choose an area of law that you are passionate about and line your undergrad studies up with that.”

Keith Berglund, Entertainment/ Business Law, Los Angeles, CA

“1. Network network network. Take lawyers out to coffee/tea and ask them about their career and experiences and follow up. See if their work is something that you’re actually interested in. Don’t forget thank you cards. It’s the little details that will make you memorable. Focus on trying to get to know lawyers from the first year of law school. Thus, when you’ve graduated you have an established network that can vouch for you. 

2. If pre-law school, focus on the LSAT. Take appropriate time off if needed to get a higher score. A higher score may result in a bigger scholarship and acceptance to better schools. 

3. Although it sounds basic, improve your English skills (i.e. grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension). Start reading a lot. Take public speaking classes.

4. If you want to go into entertainment law, make it a habit to be up to date on all the trades (e.g. Variety, Deadline, Hollywood Reporter). The topics reported on in these trades are the hot topics over coffee/lunch/dinner that you need to be familiar with for more active participation with persons of interest in the entertainment field. 

5. When in law school, focus on getting a variety of internships to get familiarity with the practice of law to expand upon the “book” knowledge you get from law school. Judicial internships, public defender’s office/district attorney internships/law firm internships/corporate internships all help to develop skills and familiarize yourself with the practice – particularly if you and/or your family do not have a legal background. Moreover, a diversity of experiences may give you a better idea as to the field of law you would like to participate in.

6. Get involved with bar associations. Offer to volunteer at events and join committees. Another great way to network and memberships for students are free.”

Weston Finn, Personal Injury Law, South Florida

“Three pieces of advice:

  1. Think long and hard about that decision;
  2. Work for / Apprentice / Shadow an attorney that emulates the vision you have of your future; and
  3. Understand what your personal passions are and use those passions to formulate your career within the law.

The path in law is not an easy one. Schooling is difficult, all-encompassing, and taxing. Needless to say, becoming an attorney is generally very expensive. On top of the expense to get your foot in the door, pay is often subpar at the entry level. However, sticking with it and finding your passion within the career is pricelessly rewarding.

It is important to join the legal profession with a clear focus on the “Why?” If your “why” is solely for money, you will get burnt out before reaching the monetary levels you dream of. If it is based on passion, you will be able to endure the tough times, focus on the good, and work tirelessly for your clients.”

Robert Elias, Real Estate Law, South Florida

“The legal training can serve you well regardless if you become a practicing lawyer. If you choose to practice law, find an area that you are passionate about and success will follow. Keep in mind however that the legal training can lead to many professional opportunities outside of the day-to-day practice. Many banks and university presidents have a legal background as do many state/federal politicians. Legal backgrounds are great for talent agents (sports/entertainment) as well as real estate developers/investors. The point is that a legal degree can be very versatile and can open many doors.”