How Do You Become A Personal Injury Lawyer?

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How Do You Become A Personal Injury Lawyer?

Attorney Ben Schwartz answers a high school viewers’ question: “How do you become a personal injury lawyer?”

Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,

Today, we are going to answer a question from Michael in Dover, Delaware. Michael wrote-in and said, “I am currently in high school and I want to know, how do you become a personal injury lawyer?” That is a really good question. Essentially, you have 4 years of college, 3 years of law school and you take the bar exam in the state where you want to practice. Once you pass the bar exam, you have a license to practice law. In most states, there is no real specialized training that you have to undergo in order to call yourself a personal injury lawyer. The important things that you need to know to be a personal injury lawyer are things that you learn while doing them. These are things that you learn through on-the-job training.

If I were in high school now, and I wanted to be a personal injury lawyer, this is what I would do. First-off, in high school, there are opportunities for you to get skills. One skill that you need is to be able to read and write very proficiently because what a lawyer does is make a living through communication. I would say take any advanced English courses and writing courses through high school and college. That is a good thing because when you get to law school, you’ll find it is mainly reading cases in case books. Reading old cases, a lot of them… they are from the 1800s and the early 1900s and it is hard to read these cases. It is hard to understand.

I noticed when I was in law school, the students who had English Lit backgrounds seemed to have a much easier time with reading and comprehending what was being said in these case books. I would say, right now, what you should do is prepare yourself by reading as much as you can, writing as much as you can, by taking courses in high school and college that have to do with reading and writing. I would also say that a big part of what a personal injury lawyer does is public speaking. If you can find opportunities now to do things in front of audiences so that you do not have cold feet when it comes time to try a personal injury case, that would be a good thing. In high school, get yourself in front of audiences so that you can warm-up to the idea and get rid of stage fright. You could volunteer to be in a drama club, or you could get into speech and debate class. You want to find opportunities to be in front of people so that when you are standing in the courtroom when you graduate from law school down the road, you will be 26 or 27 years old. Hopefully not too long after you graduate from law school, you will be standing in a courtroom, the judge will be on the bench, you will have 12+ jurors and 2 or 4 in the jury box. You have people out in the audience, you have the defense attorney, who is sitting there watching you and taking down every word. You will have your client and their family sitting there at the council table. You will have all these people and you are going to stand up and you are going to perform in front of all these people. You are going to stay focused, calm, cool and collected.

Where do you get that ability to do that? The answer is, you develop it now when you are in high school. By doing things like drama club, or speech and debate, or something that gets you in front of people where you have to think on your feet. You have to be calm, cool and collected, and you get used to appearing in front of people. Those are the things that I think I would be doing now and then you are going to go to college, take college courses that focus on reading and writing, which expand your mind as much as you can. You are going to go to law school and you are going to enjoy three years of law school and then take and pass the bar. You can get into private practice and find a good Mentor and learn from them. This is not a business where everything is written down like taking a doctor’s deposition or doing a direct examination of your client in a jury trial, or picking a jury or doing a closing argument. There are books written about these things, but the honest-to-god truth is, the books you might read about these things do not necessarily give you the skills to actually do them. These are things you learn from doing and so what you want to do is find a good Mentor. Go to work for a personal injury lawyer. Find one who is really interested in his craft and learn from him or her and get the on-the-job training that way.

In the end, I hope I answered your question, “How do you become a personal injury lawyer?” If you are watching this video and have questions for me that you would like me to answer in video format, shoot me an email below. Thanks for watching!

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