A person who wants to become a legal aid attorney and work for clients who do not have the means to pay the usual level of legal fees must start their training by completing the requirements for an undergraduate degree. The next step in the process is for the prospective attorney to get accepted to and complete a law school degree. If he or she knows from the outset that he or she is interested in doing legal aid work, the law student will want to choose courses that will prepare him or her best for this subfield.
Completing a four-year undergraduate degree is a requirement to be accepted into law school. Some universities in the United States offer pre-law as a program major, but students may be accepted into law school from any bachelor's of arts or bachelor's of science program. Canadian universities also consider students from any undergraduate program for law school programs.
Once the person who wants to become a legal aid attorney has completed his or her undergraduate degree, the next step is to go to law school. This portion of the training is a three-year program. During the first year of law school, most universities offer a number of core courses to students.
The courses that a person who wants to become a legal aid attorney will take include instruction in criminal procedure, contract law, civil procedure, and real estate. Constitutional law and torts will also be covered. Law school also includes courses in legal writing, since part of a lawyer's job involves preparing written communication, including correspondence, legal memos and written arguments which are presented to a judge.
During the second and third years of study, the students take more specialized courses. A person who wants to become a legal aid attorney will probably want to make a point of taking family law courses as part of his or her studies, since a number of legal aid lawyers work with clients who are in the midst of a separation or divorce. Another area where someone who wants to become a legal aid attorney will want to focus his or her studies is in the area of criminal law. A person who has been accused of a crime may not have the means to hire a private attorney, and that doesn't mean they are not entitled to adequate representation by qualified legal counsel.