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To become a contract attorney, you must first become a lawyer and pass the bar in your local area. Since a contract attorney is a temporary attorney who works for a firm for a limited period of time, you then must normally register with a legal staffing agency that places temporary attorneys. The staffing agency will place you with a firm, where you can work as a contract attorney.
To become a contract attorney, you need to obtain a law degree. The requirements for doing this vary depending on where you live. In every country, however, you need to obtain a bachelor's degree or its equivalent and then obtain some type of graduate education in a law school program.
In the United States, for example, you must attend law school for three years to become a contract attorney. After graduating from a US law school, you must pass the bar exam, which is an exam given on a state-specific basis. In the United States, the bar exam is administered by the American Bar Association (ABA).
In England, the Law Society sets forth requirements and administers tests. Each country has its own accrediting body that ensures that anyone who wants to practice law is qualified to do so. Thus, to become a contract attorney, you first must comply with these requirements in your area.
Contract attorneys work in any number of different fields, wherever there is a need for a temporary attorney. Therefore, the specific courses you take in law school are not especially important. Contract attorneys, however, are often brought in to review documents during litigation, so you may want to take classes in which you learn about litigation and discovery.
Upon graduating, you need to register with a legal staffing firm that places contract attorneys. There are many different legal staffing firms depending on where you live. In the United States, for example, Robert Half Legal is one of the largest legal staffing agencies.
The legal staffing agency will place you in a law firm that is in need of a temporary attorney. You will normally be paid on an hourly basis and work for that firm for the period of time that it requires a contract attorney, which could be anywhere from a few days to several weeks or months. You should be aware, when you decide to become a contract attorney, that your specific responsibilities for a case may be limited to assisting full-time attorneys who have a need for litigation support, and that you may not have your own clients as long as you are working as a contract attorney.
@Soulfox -- I am afraid that being a contracts lawyer isn't as easy as it used to be, thanks to the emergence of software that generates legal contracts. Of course, that software might kick out contracts that are not legal in one state or another, but that business has grown enough to cut into the revenue of lawyers who specialize in creating contracts.
If you want to be a contract attorney, a good start is to do well in your initial contracts and then build on those with more advanced courses as you go. The great thing about that career is that it seems people just need contracts from time to time and a lot of attorneys get their start drafting those. After a while, an attorney can build up a great library of legal contracts and can run a bit of a mill churning those things out in a hurry.
It takes some time and effort to built up that library, but once an attorney does that, he or she can make a good living by churning them out. Not bad at all.
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