How To Become An Employment Lawyer

Explore diverse legal sectors as a lawyer, specializing in areas like employment law.

This field involves offering crucial guidance to both employers and employees dealing with workplace legal matters.

If you’re interested in a rewarding career in employment law, learn the basics and follow eight key steps outlined in this article.

How to become an employment lawyer
An employment lawyer advises on labor issues, representing both employers and employees for fair treatment in the workplace. They may specialize in advocating for one party: Photo source (Lawyers.com)

What is an employment lawyer?

An employment lawyer guides clients through workplace issues, representing both employers and employees.

They ensure fair treatment and uphold labor laws.

Distinct from labor lawyers, who focus on unionized relationships, employment lawyers have a broader role in maintaining legal standards in the workplace.

What does an employment lawyer do?

Employment lawyers advise clients on various issues such as workplace safety, privacy, contracts, negotiation, and more.

They represent both employers and employees, addressing matters like discrimination and termination.

Responsibilities include reviewing contracts, guiding clients on rights, mediating solutions, and representing in court if needed.

When representing employers, they offer preventative counsel to ensure a legally compliant workplace, drafting policies to minimize conflicts and legal issues.

How to become an employment lawyer

While everyone’s legal journey will look different depending on their specific experiences, there are a few foundational moves you can make to become an employment lawyer.

Here’s how you can become an employment lawyer in eight steps:

1. Earn your undergraduate degree

To become an employment lawyer, start by earning an undergraduate degree in any discipline.

A bachelor’s degree is a basic requirement for law school admission.

While there’s no specific major needed, choosing one related to the legal field can be beneficial.

During undergrad, pursue extracurricular opportunities like internships for legal experience, which can enhance your law school application.

Look for such opportunities at law firms, legal clinics, or government offices.

2. Take the LSAT

In your final college year, apply to law school by taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), offered four times a year.

To qualify for the next school year, consider taking the LSAT in June or September before your last year.

Study diligently as your LSAT score is crucial for admissions.

Many schools have minimum score requirements, so set score-related goals before the test.

Many applicants use LSAT-specific prep courses or study groups to excel.

If you don’t meet your goal initially, you can retake the LSAT for a higher score.

3. Apply to law school

After achieving your LSAT score goal, gather application materials and register with the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), widely used by law schools.

Compile letters of recommendation, a personal statement, addendum, transcript, LSAT scores, resume or CV, and, for international candidates, an English proficiency exam.

Upload these materials to CAS and apply to multiple schools simultaneously to increase admission chances.

Consider factors like cost and location when selecting schools that align with your goal of becoming an employment lawyer.

4. Take your goals seriously

After admission to law school, plan strategically for your three-year journey.

Focus on becoming a top student by joining study groups, excelling in exams, and seeking real-world experience.

In the first year, build foundational knowledge through core classes.

Use the second and third years to explore elective classes, including those related to employment law.

Consider taking the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) in the third year, a requirement for most practicing lawyers, allowing you to focus on the bar exam post-graduation.

5. Build your network and resume

While in law school, build a network with colleagues, professors, and peers for future collaboration in the legal field.

Seek practical experience in employment law through student clubs, professional associations, law journals, and internships.

Internships, often offering course credit, provide hands-on experience in law clinics, judicial clerkships, and practical courses, enhancing your resume, expanding your network, and honing your skills.

These experiences can open doors to potential employment opportunities post-graduation.

6. Graduate from law school

After three years of study, internships, and networking, you can graduate from law school.

While many students aim to secure job opportunities before graduation, most positions may be contingent on passing the bar exam, a qualification for state practice.

Therefore, it’s crucial to focus on meticulous bar exam preparation as you approach and navigate graduation.

7. Pass the bar exam

Passing the bar exam is crucial to becoming an employment lawyer.

This two to three-day test assesses your qualifications for practicing law in your state, irrespective of your specialization.

Like the LSAT, you can take test preparation courses or join a study group for bar exam practice.

Many candidates dedicate full-time study between graduation and the exam date.

It’s common for some to retake the exam if they don’t pass on their first attempt in their pursuit of becoming a certified lawyer.

8. Find an opportunity to practice employment law

After passing the bar exam, you’re certified to practice law in your state.

If you haven’t secured an employment law job post-graduation, tap into resources provided by your alma mater.

Join professional organizations for job listings, explore on-campus interviews facilitated by law schools, and leverage online searches or informational interviews at local firms to navigate the job market effectively.

What is the average salary for employment lawyers?

Employment lawyers’ salaries vary based on factors like location and position.

The national average is $118,948 annually, with common benefits.

While some earn more, this is the typical figure.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a stable job outlook for lawyers, with a 4% increase over the next decade.

What skills do employment lawyers need?

To excel in their field, employment lawyers require specific skills and a solid knowledge base.

Some key skills include communication, analysis, research, creativity, judgment, persistence, flexibility, personal responsibility, time management, and business acumen.