Lawyer is a person whose profession is to represent clients in a court of law or to advise or act for clients in other legal matters. Lawyers serve as both advocates and advisers. As advocates, they speak for their clients in court by presenting supportive evidence. As advisers, they counsel their clients on their legal rights and obligations. Lawyers, also called attorneys and counselors, can interpret laws and apply laws to specific situations, and draft new laws. Much of their work involves researching precedents, which are earlier interpretations of laws and the history of judicial decisions based on that law. Lawyers use precedents to support their cases in court. Many resources from law libraries and public documents to computer databases and the internet are available to lawyers for research. Most lawyers have private practices that handle many kinds of legal problems. Some work for larger law firms, corporations, and government agencies. Others teach law. Some lawyers become district attorneys or judges, while many enter politics. To practice law in the courts of any State or other jurisdiction, a person must be licensed, or admitted to its bar. There are formal requirements to become a lawyer which generally includes a 4-year college degree, 3 years of law school, and passing a written bar examination; however, some requirements may vary by State. Most lawyers obtain bachelor's degrees and law school degrees. Helpful college courses include English, history, political science, economics, and social science. Those who want to be patent attorneys often major in engineering, while future tax lawyers get accounting degrees. Occasionally, students are offered early admission to law school after two or three years of college. But most students complete college before going on to three years of law school. Good scores on the Law School Aptitude Test are required for admission. Law school courses include classes in contracts, property law, criminal law, and...
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