Boston Legal: The Legal Profession in Boston

Boston Legal: The Legal Profession in Boston

John Adams is arguably the most famous lawyer to have worked in Boston. He did, after all, successfully defend the British soldiers accused during the Boston Massacre, and went on to use his legal mind as a delegate to the Continental Congress, and later as Vice President and President of the new United States.

Other early patriots were also lawyers from Boston, including James Otis, Samuel Adams, and Robert Treat Paine. Another famous Boston lawyer was Joseph Welch, who graduated from Harvard law and was lead counsel for the U.S. Army during the Army-McCarthy hearings in the 1950s. U.S. Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown are both alumni of Boston College Law School. And we can't forget Boston Legal , the TV show that aired between 2004-08.

If the law is your passion, then Boston is your oyster. And if you want to pursue politics, studying law in or around Boston could give you a leg up.

Work of Lawyers and Paralegals

Lawyers perform essential functions in our society, and their expertise is highly valued. Lawyers (or advocates) advocate and advise. As advocates, they support one client (side) of a criminal or civil argument in a trial. As advisors, lawyers provide counsel to clients concerning their rights and obligations in a legal matter, and may help the client choose a good course of action. In either capacity, lawyers research laws, the intent of laws, and judicial decisions relevant to the client's circumstances in order to make an informed decision.

Trial lawyers are perhaps the most visible of all lawyers; they argue a clients case before the courts. However, most of their time is still spent outside the courtroom. They must research the case and compile arguments; meet with clients and stakeholders; interview witnesses; and more.

Other lawyers specialize in a specific area, such as tax law, intellectual property law, or probate law. These lawyers may also argue cases before the courts, but they are more likely to work behind the scenes, often in the advisory capacity.

Working as a paralegal could be the first step to a career as a lawyer.

Paralegals are the bridge between the law office and the courtroom. They perform a great deal of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into preparing and presenting cases, including research, fact-checking, preparing arguments, interviewing witnesses, and helping to manage the office.

Paralegal graduates have a lot of the same knowledge and skills as law school graduates, but they can't sit for the bar exam. They are not lawyers, and as such cannot give legal advice or defend cases in the courtroom. However, they are in all other ways equal to lawyers, and lawyers depend a great deal on their paralegal and legal secretary teams.

Education & Training

Law schools in the Boston area include the well-known and highly-regard Harvard Law School, Boston College Law School, and Boston University School of Law, and many others.

After taking the LSAT, gaining admission to law school, undergoing an intense 3-year training, you'll need to pass the bar exam in Massahcusetts before you can practice law legally in Boston.

Most paralegals have an associate's degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree in another field and a certificate in paralegal studies. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs usually combine paralegal training with courses in other academic subjects. Certificate programs vary significantly, with some taking only a few months to complete. Most certificate programs provide intensive paralegal training for those who already hold college degrees.

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