What are the steps someone needs to take to be a lawyer?Most people will likely say that you need a solid undergraduate degree as a stepping stone for admission to law school. We've found that as long as you were a diligent student and carried those habits over to your law school application and studies, you'll be just fine. As for that law school application, you'll need to take the LSAT, have a good writing sample prepared, and put all of that together in a neat packet for each school you apply to attend. An LSAT prep class and even a writing coach for the writing sample aren't bad ideas. Once in law school it's study, study, study. There are a million things to distract a busy law student but organization and diligence will get you through, as well as a good support network of friends, fellow students, and family. After law school you'll need to take the Bar Exam for whichever state you plan to practice law - this EIGHTEEN HOUR test is no joke. Most students prepare by taking a multi-month prep class and don't even hold a job while studying because it is, in itself, a full-time job. Oh, and don't forget about the Moral Character Application and MPRE, which are essentially a comprehensive background check and test, respectively.
What are startup/education costs?This varies greatly. Each school is different, with private law schools likely being more expensive. If you don't have the money in the bank and/or don't get scholarships, expect to take out loans to the tune of $100,000 or more.
What is the pay like?This is another thing that varies greatly. Due to an influx of law students after the economy started to dip, there are many lawyers and not many lawyer positions available. As with anything, this supply and demand situation has created lower pay for attorneys since there is always another attorney waiting to be hired if one leaves due to the low pay. Many attorneys these days are turning to freelance or part time attorney work and then supplementing their income with other part time jobs. Of course, there are still big firms out there that pay the big bucks, but those jobs are scarce and often very, very competitive.
What are the best parts of being a lawyer?Empowering and educating people and finding creative solutions to their problems. Not all areas of the law are ones that directly help people. Any aspiring lawyer should pay careful consideration to the type of law they want to practice; observe it in action, and talk to attorneys about what it is like for them. It is very common to graduate, pass the bar, and find yourself in a job doing work that you can't see yourself doing for very long.
What are the biggest challenges in being a lawyer?Job scarcity these days, but traditionally and still true today is the fact that almost inevitably you will be in an adversarial position. Obviously your client isn't the one that will think you are the bad guy (most of the time), but they are always dealing with someone else or another business and that side may in fact think you are a bad guy for doing your job. This is especially true in the areas of family law or criminal law - there is always another side that sees you as their problem.
Any other helpful resources or links on this topic?Lawyer blogs. There has been an explosion of lawyer advice, lawyer experience, and lawyer general information blogs in the last few years. If you are interested in practicing law, search the type of law you think you'd like to practice and start reading some blogs on the topic.