What is a Lawyer?

Outside of television shows or movies, you may have no knowledge of what lawyers are or what they do. While fictional depictions can be helpful, they are not always accurate. The following are a few commonly asked questions about lawyers.  

What exactly is a lawyer?

A lawyer (also called attorney, counsel, or counselor) is a licensed professional who advises and represents others in legal matters. Today’s lawyer can be young or old, male or female. Nearly one-third of all lawyers are under thirty-five years old. Almost half of the law students today are women, and women may ultimately be as numerous in the profession as men.

  • Have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
  • Complete three years at an ABA-accredited law school.
  • Pass a state bar examination, which usually lasts for two or three days. The exam tests knowledge in selected areas of law. There are also required tests on professional ethics and responsibility.
  • Pass a character and fitness review. Applicants for law licenses must be approved by a committee that investigates character and background.
  • Take an oath, usually swearing to support the laws and the state and federal constitutions.
  • Receive a license from the highest court in the state, usually the state supreme court.