How do I Become an Energy Attorney?

Jessica F. Black

The primary basis to become an energy attorney should be a passion for environmental issues. Education requirements may involve up to seven or eight years of higher education, followed by additional courses that inform students or employees on recent industry innovations. Energy law is constantly changing due to the environment, which is evolutionary and demands continuous legal revisions. Some of the areas covered by energy attorneys are mining and sale of natural resources, biofuel, gas, electricity, coal, and agreements, patents, or arguments pertaining to all energy resources.

Some energy attorneys have backgrounds in environmental science.
Some energy attorneys have backgrounds in environmental science.

Students planning to become an energy attorney should begin their undergraduate studies with general sciences in order to fulfill the prerequisites for most environmental courses. After completing the prerequisites, the student should focus his or her coursework on pre-law studies including government policy, economics, political science, and legal management, as well as environmental studies. Some of the most common classes taken are environmental geology, environmental history, environmental ethics and other science courses that study land and energy. A student should receive a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in pre-law studies or environmental studies.

Becoming an attorney typically requires taking the LSAT and gaining entry into a law school program.
Becoming an attorney typically requires taking the LSAT and gaining entry into a law school program.

The student should be ready to take any necessary exams for law school, such as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) in the United States, towards the end of the third year of the undergraduate program. The primary reason to take exams early, if possible, is to get a head start on law school applications or to leave time to retest in case he or she is not able to pass it. He or she should become active in environmental groups on campus or in the community as well as seeking internships in offices that handle energy law. There are many law schools that offer intense energy law programs, which will make it easier for the student to become an energy attorney because his or her expertise will be reflected in the curriculum.

Once he or she has been accepted to law school, the curriculum will follow a general route at first. Courses will address case analysis, legal reasoning, criminal law, contracts, and other basics of law. Gradually the coursework will focus on specific topics that will help become an energy attorney, including components of energy law, environmental law, property, natural resources, land use regulation, and international environmental law. After completing all coursework and obtaining a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree, the student will often need to pass a regional exam, such as the bar exam, to become an energy attorney who is authorized to practice law.

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