Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak, of Law and Order: SVU, is a character that highlights many of the challenges–and rewards–of being a lawyer.

Law is one of the world’s oldest professions. It’s also a very demanding, and very rewarding, one. My father was a lawyer for over 20 years, and I remember that there were nights when he worked late or weekends when he couldn’t play with us. But I also remember that he supported our family and always found the work he did for clients to be rewarding.

So while being a lawyer may sound dull and dreary at first, the key is to remember that the field of law is very diverse and very integral to our daily lives. Whether it’s drafting someone’s will, taking a company to court over violations of environmental laws, or helping refugees claim asylum (and potentially saving their lives), being a lawyer is a very rewarding profession.

So what does it take to be a lawyer?

First, it takes public speaking, analyzing, and writing. You’ll be interacting with a variety of people every day, so being able to communicate well is key. Gain skills in reading, writing, analyzing, and debating. Join the debate club. Join an activist club at your school, supporting a cause that you believe in. Watch news channels. And develop good study skills and get good grades. Law school is going to be tough; plus, doing all this can help you gain a lot of scholarships and grants for your first 4 years of college.

Second, go to college. You can major in just about any subject, but Pre-Law, History, Government, and Sociology will be very helpful. Also take classes in public speaking, English, economics, and philosophy. Join clubs. Do volunteer work. Get involved with campus politics, or intern/volunteer for a local political campaign. Consider a part-time job, saving up a portion of your earnings in a high-interest savings account. (Most law schools prefer you not to work during your first year of study, so having a nice cushion of cash to help get you through tough spots is great!)

Most importantly, study and get good grades. A high GPA is required for nearly every law school. This will also show professors how dedicated you are to your studies, and help you get recommendations that you’ll need to get into law school. During your junior and senior years, begin preparing to take the LSAT (the entrance exam for law schools) and apply to American Bar Association-accredited law schools that match your interests, financial situation, and other needs. Also apply for all the scholarships, grants, and other financial aid you can. Student loans are a huge burden, so getting as much of your education for “free” as you can is key!

-Tiffany Piotti
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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