Civil Rights Lawyer
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A Brief Guide On How To Become A Civil Rights Lawyer

| September 25, 2023

Civil liberties and legal precedents have expanded the rights and liberties of citizens, often beginning as court cases that began involving civil rights lawyers. Presently, civil rights lawyers tend to continue working on cases that aim to protect people from discrimination or harassment. Moreover, these lawyers also defend the rights of the clients they tend to represent in court. 

So, if you are interested in enhancing justice for citizens, then it is crucial that you know about ways to become a civil rights lawyer.

In this article, we will be discussing what a civil rights lawyer is, their job role, and their average salary and job outlook. 

What Is A Civil Rights Lawyer?

A civil rights lawyer is someone who is generally known to work for cases that involve discrimination against someone who is part of a protected group. Civil rights lawyers also take cases that involve personal rights, such as freedom of speech.

Such lawyers are often considered to be passionate about their community and want to ensure that legal protection is provided to every individual within the nation. Many civil rights lawyers have been noted for their ability to take part in activities that benefit the whole community, like fundraising for a new community food bank. 

What Does A Civil Rights Lawyer Do?

Civil rights lawyers prepare documents, consult with clients, appear in court, and negotiate settlements in court. Their daily routine can vary depending on their employment and the population they are aiming to work for. These lawyers tend to receive more responsibility after gaining some experience. 

Civil rights are most often observed, most of their time spent on a case they are aiming to represent in the court. Preparing for a case can include researching cases or legal precedents for their client base. Along with interviewing clients and drafting arguments or legal documents. 

They are also observed to travel to their clients, which includes jail visitation and courts for representing their clients in front of the judge. Presenting a case in court generally involves questioning witnesses, presenting evidence, and explaining the circumstances of a case to the judge and jury if one is present. 

How To Become A Civil Rights Lawyer?

Civil rights lawyers tend to spend years preparing to work in law, as the position requires an extensive understanding of the legal system. If you are willing to become a civil rights lawyer, follow the following steps:

Earn a bachelor’s degree

The first step to becoming a civil rights lawyer is earning a bachelor’s degree. Consider a degree in government or something that is related to human rights. Focus on courses like economics, history, public speaking, and government. 

Use this time to showcase your ability to be passionate about your community or to learn some related skills. You can also volunteer during your summer, join student organizations focusing on advocating for positive change in your university or work for your law firm. 

Any of these activities will make you provide an experience that will enable acquiring experience to aid your career. 

Take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)

Students are generally observed to take their LSATs in their junior year of college. This test is challenging, so make sure you are well-prepared in advance. Your admission to a law school wholly depends on your capacity to pass this test. 

Make sure to make use of your university’s resources or online platforms to improve your chances of getting a high score on the LSAT. 

Finishing your law school 

Law school is generally observed to last for three years, and you will be earning a Juris Doctor degree after graduating from law school. During law school, consider focusing on courses like constitutional law, employment discrimination, race & the law, family law, and civil rights law if they are offering it. 

Networking with your fellow law students can be advantageous as they might become your colleagues, and their connections can help you find a job in the future. 

Passing the bar exam 

Each state has its own bar exam, but most of them have a similar structure. The exam tends to last for two days and the first being a multistate bar examination. While the second one is the bar exam that is specific to the state. 

If you are thinking of relocating to a new state, you will be required to take that state’s bar exam all over again. This will allow you to have the license to practice in various states. 

Begin your employment

Civil rights lawyers typically start their careers as legal associates in law firms. During the initial years of your career, you will be expected to work under an experienced attorney who is known to mentor and train them. 

You might have to work as a legal associate for several years before becoming a partner of a law firm or starting your own practice. 

The Skills To Become A Civil Rights Lawyer In The Us

Depending upon the area of focus, the skills that you will be required shall be the following:

  • Active listening 
  • Analytical reasoning 
  • Communication 
  • Critical thinking
  • Empathy 
  • Negotiation 
  • Networking 
  • Research 
  • Teamwork 
  • Networking 
  • Writing 

Moreover, civil rights lawyers who are aiming to start their own businesses are required to attain the skills of marketing, accounting, and business skills. 

Salary Of A Civil Rights Lawyer In The US

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a civil rights lawyer is estimated at $122,960 annually. This amount can vary in terms of the area you are practicing in or the type of cases you are accepting. 

Places offering the highest salaries include:

  • District of Columbia 
  • California 
  • New York 
  • Massachusetts 
  • Ilinois 

Final Thoughts 

Now, you have a fair idea regarding the process of becoming a civil rights lawyer in the US. It can be a fulfilling career if you think making a change in society is what you are craving to do.

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nilanjana basu
nilanjana basu

Nilanjana is a lawyer with a flair for writing. She has a certification in American Laws from Penn Law (Pennsylvania University). Along with this, she has been known to write legal articles that allow the audience to know about American laws and regulations at ease.


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