- Job Description:
The duties of lawyers vary based on their specialties and where they work, but the basic responsibilities include providing advice and representation to people or businesses regarding legal issues. People with accounting backgrounds might consider becoming tax lawyers, who help individuals or businesses with complicated tax regulations; keep confidental records and tax information; negotiate with federal, state, and local governments; and research and analyze federal and state tax laws. Another option is to become a securities lawyer, who works with the legal aspects of buying and selling stocks; or corporate counsels, who advise corporations on any legal issues in their business activities.
- The requirements vary based on the lawyer's specialization. Tax attorneys typically need to have an undergraduate degree in accounting or business administration with an accounting specialization, as well as a Master of Laws in Taxation. Meanwhile, lawyer accountants must have an undergraduate degree in accounting, a Juris Doctorate, and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. State boards of accounting may require candidates to complete 150 semester hourse of college classes and have at least two years of professional experience before they sit for the CPA exam. However, the requirements vary by state. Both occuptations require that practicioners pass the BAR exam to be licensed attorneys in the state.
- Median Salary:
- The lowest 10% of lawyers earn less than $54,310, and the top 10% earn more than $168,010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Private or corporate lawyers earn more on average than those who work for the government, and partners in law firms normally have higher salaries than lawyers who own their own practices. The BLS also notes that states with the highest salaries for lawyers include Washington D.C., California, Delaware, and New York.
- Job Outlook:
- Projected to grow 10% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.
Historically, job prospects for lawyers are simply based on the demand of various businesses for lawyers, legal assistants, and accountants to assist with legal matters and/or litigation. As job responsibilities between these occupations sometimes overlap, traditional lawyers may face increased competition for employment especially during downturned economic cycles over the next seven years. With many companies looking to save money by hiring entry-level employees to do a lawyer's job, lawyers with more diverse skills may find enhanced career prospects. Over half of the working populations of lawyers are currently in legal services, with the next-largest percentage working in government, according to the BLS. Though competition is expected to remain high, lawyers should find that corporate and government clients continue to employ the majority of qualified professionals in this occupation in the projected future.
- Continuing Education:
For lawyers, passing the bar exam is a must. After passing the bar and pursuing state licensure, candidates are required to maintain their status by renewing their licensure according to state regulations, through continuing education courses. Among the many online directories for various forms of professional education in this field, the Continuing Legal Education Regulators Association (CLEreg) offers comprehensive resources for each of the 48 U.S. jurisdictions requiring mandatory continuing legal education. Practicing lawyers who enroll in continuing education courses may take the opportunity to supplement their skills in specialty areas relevant to the legal sector, such as ethics, substance abuse prevention, or bias elimination, for example. Continuing education allows lawyers to prove they have met basic industry criteria for licensure, and that they regularly and responsibly maintain these qualifications.