An environmental lawyer works with different clients, including individuals, corporations, and government agencies. They specialize in environmental laws and rights and handle projects related to renewable energy, sustainability, and climate change. To succeed, an environmental lawyer must have research, analysis, negotiation, and communication skills, both written and verbal. You can learn more about environmental lawyers on this page from Unity College.
If you are considering a career as an environmental lawyer, here are some things you need to know to ensure your success, especially if you want to obtain a license to practice law in your state.
Work hard to achieve top grades in your undergraduate work
Law school admission is extremely competitive, even if you have a strong academic record. If you want a career in law, then you need to work as hard as possible to achieve a high GPA. It is even more important that you have a good LSAT score, since your score will be the most important factor when getting accepted to law schools. The average GPA for most top law schools is around a 3.9 and the average LSAT score is around 172.
This means taking on only a little outside of school. While plenty of students have a job as they pursue their studies, it is essential to consider how many hours you can reasonably work without your job affecting your grades or resulting in burnout. That being said, it is important to show you are a hard worker.
Make sure you are well-rounded
While grades are important, you must also pursue outside activities that show you have a life outside of school. Volunteering at nonprofits and sports are suitable activities. A part-time job or internship is also something to consider.
If your goal is to be an environmental lawyer, it is a good idea to volunteer at environmental nonprofits. You need to think beyond getting into law school. Your volunteering track record for these organizations will make you a more competitive applicant for a job as an environmental lawyer after you pass the bar.
Even if you do not have a job during the school year, working during the summer at a job or law internship shows a lot of initiative and will help round out your application to law school.
Consider the different ways you can achieve a career in law
There are many different jobs within the judicial system that you should consider. For example, you can get some experience as a legal aid or paralegal before deciding if you want to pursue a Juris Doctor degree, or JD degree, and practice as a fully licensed lawyer.
Some environmental lawyers do paralegal work for some prominent legal nonprofits such as Environmental Defense Fund, Earthjustice, Sierra Club or the Audubon Society. You can get some great experience and have a good idea what will be expected of you after you become an environmental lawyer for one of these institutions down the road.
What can you do with a Juris Doctor degree?
If you’re wondering what can you do with a Juris Doctor degree, a JD degree is the minimum degree that is acceptable to qualify for the bar exam in all but four states you wish to practice as a fully licensed attorney. If you are looking for flexibility in your studies, you can enroll in an online program at Cleveland State University. Once you have graduated with a JD degree and earned a license to practice law in a given area, you can gain employment in many different sectors. Many attorneys choose to specialize in one of the following areas of practice.
- Family and/or general practice
- Non-profit or environmental
As you can see, you have a lot of flexibility if you want to pursue a different track record if you get tired of being an environmental lawyer. But we hope you stay the course, since the planet needs lawyers like you to defend it!
Most attorneys start out working at a law firm that employs multiple lawyers.
Skills required to be a good lawyer
If you want to succeed as a lawyer, there are some skills that are absolutely essential. If you feel that you need to improve in any of these areas, then you should start now. These skills are essential whether you are going to be an environmental lawyer or practice another area of law.
Organization is required at all times
There is no room for disorganization in the world of law. You must keep accurate client records that are easy to access. Lawyers are typically juggling multiple cases at once. This means you need to be able to switch back and forth without struggling to find information, or worse, confusing your cases and making mistakes or revealing confidential information.
Great lawyers always notice the small things that others are inclined to miss
Small details can make or break a case. It is important to notice any inconsistencies in the information that a client gives you. Spotting inconsistencies in the information presented by the other party in the court case can make the difference between success and disaster. Entire cases have been decided based on very small details.
It is essential to develop a good method for keeping track of billable hours that is fair to the client. Lawyers also need to be able to manage their schedule so that they are meeting the needs of the clients they have agreed to represent.
Being efficient with your time means doing whatever it takes to get the most out of every minute spent researching or gathering data that is relevant to a case.
Always be able to account for every minute you spend on a client’s case in case there are any questions regarding billable hours.
Persuasive communication skills
Lawyers must speak with extreme confidence. After all, your job is to persuade others that your client is right or innocent. Speaking in a tone that sounds uncertain or nervous is simply unacceptable. You need to sound like you believe in your client even if you have doubts or lingering uncertainties about some aspects of a case.
Lawyers are writers
Many people do not realize just how much time lawyers spend writing. In fact, lawyers actually write more than a lot of professional authors and content writers! It is essential to have strong and persuasive writing skills. Your writing should be easy to understand while using the correct terminology. While college and university courses provide a lot of writing opportunities, it is a good idea for those wishing to enter the world of law to take additional courses in writing to hone their skills.
In addition to having good writing skills in general, you will want to be familiar with environmental terminology, as well as legal concepts. You are going to need to write for both environmental and legal professionals.
You might be fighting for the planet, but you are going to be spending a lot of time interacting with other people. No matter what branch of law you decide to pursue, you must be able to interact well with people from many different backgrounds. Lawyers need to make a good impression to gain clients and win cases. While some branches of law may require less interaction with others, you will still spend time talking with people who are going through some tough or confusing situations. The ability to empathize with others is essential.
Environmental Lawyers Need to Develop the Right Skills
There is a strong demand for lawyers and paralegals as there are some situations that are impossible for the average person to navigate without legal help. This is especially true in the field of environmental justice. So few people are fighting for the planet, that there is a shortage of environmental lawyers.
Of course, there are plenty of other things that you can do with your law degree before or after becoming an environmental lawyer. From purchasing a first home to divorces and criminal law, there will be a time when people will need at least some minor legal advice.
Pursuing a career in law is a lucrative and rewarding experience, but it takes a very dedicated person who is willing to invest a lot of time into education and research. There are also many paths to a career in law beyond a JD degree. If you feel the calling, be sure to research your options.
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