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How Do I Become a Litigator?

Litigators represent either the plaintiff or respondent in civil lawsuits.
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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2014
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To become a litigator, you must become a lawyer and then you must work for a company or client that handles litigation issues. Litigation refers to going to court and arguing a case. Litigators, in other words, are on one side or the other of a lawsuit, either bringing suits for clients or defending clients who have been sued in civil suits. A litigator or litigation attorney commonly handles breach of contracts cases and other business issues such as employment litigation.

The first step to become a litigator is to get the education you need to become a lawyer. First, that means attending college to get your bachelor's degree. While there is no one undergraduate major required to become a litigator, many students major in something business-related if they know they want to become a litigator, since most litigators do work in the business environment. Accounting, statistics or economics are common majors. Others simply major in pre-law, philosophy, or an unrelated major, since law schools do not have class or major requirements to admit students, as long as the student has a good GPA.

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Taking the law school admissions test (LSAT) is also an important step in becoming a litigator, since you can't get into law school without an LSAT score. The LSAT is scored on a range of 180, and higher scores will help you gain admittance to more prestigious law schools. Since much litigation is handled by large firms that only hire students from prestigious law schools, doing well on this test is important.

Going to law school is the next step. If you attend a full-time program, expect to take three years to earn your juris doctorate. You can take courses in litigation and business law, or even attend a school that has a special program that offers a focus in litigation. You should also participate in your school's moot court program and/or join legal clinics that will allow you to get hands-on and practical experience with litigation that will help you get hired by a litigation firm and get clients in your later career.

The next step to become a litigator is to work for a law firm that handles litigation. Many corporate law firms hire litigators who will represent their clients when sued. It is difficult to get clients independently as a litigator without first working in a firm and developing and making connections, since most companies and those suing or being sued want experienced litigators to represent them, so this time in a law firm is necessary to begin a career as a litigator.

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