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What should I do if I want to become a lawyer?

QUESTION: I'm a high school sophomore who is interested in becoming a lawyer. I was wondering if there are special courses I should take in high school that might help. Also, I don't really know all the different fields in law, but I do know that I would like to make a good living and not defend cases that deal with criminals. Signed, Future Attorney

Dear Future Attorney: While there are perhaps more jokes about lawyers than all other subject matters combined, don't let that stop you from pursuing a career in the field.

One of the great things about the career is that it welcomes students from a variety of backgrounds and fields of study. In fact, the American Bar Association (ABA) does not recommend specific majors for students. The ABA does identify skills that are required for becoming a lawyer which include problem-solving, critical reading, writing, oral communication and research skills.

Some classes in which you can develop these abilities include honors or Advanced Placement (AP) English for critical reading and writing, math for problem-solving, speech or debate for oral communication and social studies for research.

Within law there are many options for specific fields including corporate, criminal, contract, intellectual property and patent. The best thing that you can do to learn more about these fields is to speak with lawyers and ask about their specialties and recommendations for which will fit you best. There are also guides for students offered on the Web sites of the ABA at and at

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.