So you’ve decided that you want to become a personal injury lawyer. Maybe you were the victim of an accident, experienced the unexpected and tragic loss of a family member, or simply enjoy the complex world of personal injury law. Whatever the reason, there are a few things you can do to help you achieve your goal of becoming a personal injury attorney. Keep the following suggestions in mind as you work your way through law school and search for your first job(s) in the legal field.
Focus on Torts
One of your first classes in law school will be Torts, which will focus on civil litigation. An in-depth and concrete understanding of the law of Torts is essential for every great personal injury attorney. This class is where you will learn the basics for most of the cases you will handle as a personal injury lawyer, including:
- Assault and battery,
- Product liability,
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress, and more.
You’ll not only learn about the basics of civil Torts, but also gain an important understanding about each of the elements of these crimes. Learning about these elements – and how to establish them in a case – will prove to be one of the most important takeaways from your law school education. Many of the personal injury cases you handle will be based on negligence, so you will find yourself reciting “duty, breach, causation, injury” over and over again for years to come.
If you are truly interested in personal injury law be sure to take advantage of any Torts class your law school offers. If you’re not certain about what other courses you should take, speak with your counselor or a trusted professor. Asking for help from individuals who have been in your shoes can provide a great wealth of information.
Intern With a Local Personal Injury Attorney
While law school will provide an important foundation for your career as a personal injury attorney, there is no replacement for quality on-the-job experience. Apply for internships with local personal injury firms during your summers. If you know the specific types of personal injury cases you want to handle, search for firms who specialize in that area of law. For example, if you’re interested in helping car and motorcycle accident victims, you’ll want to find law firms that handle a lot of traffic accident cases. On the other hand, if you’re interested in helping injured workers, you may want to find a firm that specializes in worker’s compensation claims. If you’re not sure what you want to focus on, or if you want to experience a little bit of everything, look for a firm that handles a wide variety of cases.
Working as a clerk in a personal injury law firm will provide invaluable experience and allow you to apply the things you have learned in the classroom to real-life cases. You will learn by trial and error and see how personal injury attorneys operate. You can take the things you learn during your internship and apply them to future classes and future career experiences.
Speak With Current Personal Injury Attorneys
If you are interested in becoming a personal injury lawyer the best thing you can do is speak with someone who is currently practicing. Ask them about their job. What do they like? What do they dislike? Ask them what they wish they would have done before entering the field. Would they have taken a specific class? Would they have searched for a different type of internship?
The answers practicing attorneys provide – and the advice they give – can really help to give you a better understanding of what to expect when you start applying for your first job after law school. Take the information you are given, think about it in terms of your own life, and apply it to your journey.