Are you interested in pursuing a career in law? Do you also happen to enjoy planes or want to help those who have been in plane accidents, then maybe becoming an Aviation Lawyer is for you. Continue reading to find out what exactly an aviation lawyer is, how to become one and the expectant salary one should expect when pursuing this career.
What is an Aviation Lawyer?
An aviation lawyer is a specialized lawyer who specializes in aviation-related law. Aviation lawyers have more experience in this area of law, meaning they can better deal with complex aviation regulations and practices than non-specialized lawyers. Many aviation lawyers are actually licensed pilots themselves and understand the ins and outs of plane operations. As a result, aviation attorneys have extensive understanding in the following areas:
- Flying an airplane
- The process of going through airport security
- Airline and aviation regulation
- Safety regulations and standards set by the government.
A lawyer who specializes in aviation lawyer can help defend you in legal matters related to the Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies. Aviation lawyers are best equipped to deal with aviations claims and issues such as the following:
- Personal injury claims
- Insurance coverage issues
- Wrongful death claims
Aviation-related lawsuits often result in some of the biggest payouts in the United States. The reason why many attorneys work for a few large companies is because failing to win such cases can be costly. It’s possible to make millions from a single case, but loses are also common and could amount to much more than one million dollars. In aviation law, the margin for error is smaller than it tends to be in other areas of law.
Steps on How to Become an Aviation Lawyer
First, you need to get your undergraduate degree from a quality college, this usually takes 3-4 years. Although it doesn’t matter what your undergraduate degree is in, if you are looking to become an aviation lawyer, you may want to get a Bachelors degree in Aviation which is often called Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics (BSA). Getting a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics will allow you to get your pilot license and get you familiar with all things aviation. You will be able to use this knowledge and build on the legal aspect later on in law school. Its important to choose an undergrad degree you enjoy as you need high marks in order to get into a top tier law school.
Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
Before applying to law school you need to pass the LSAT. Getting a good score on this test is important as it will help you (along with your undergrad grades) to get you into a top tier law school.
Once you have completed your undergraduate degree and passed your LSAT, you will be able to to go to law school. There are some programs that offer aviation law but sometimes its worth getting a general law degree in case you choose to change specialties later on in your career.
Obtaining LL.M in Aviation Law
Once you have graduated from law school, you can choose to get your Masters of Laws (LL.M). These programs have specialized degrees in a variety of areas of law. If you want to become and aviation lawyer, there are a variety of schools that offer an LL.M in Aviation Law, for example Ole Miss School of Law has an Air and Space Law Curriculum that allows you to get a Masters of Law specifically in Air and Space Law. At this particular school, you would need to earn 26 credits in order to be awarded your LL.M designation.
There are many other schools that offer this program, you would just need to find one that best suits you. There are also a few international schools that work with the American Bar Association meaning you can go overseas and get your degree and have it transfer into the United States.
Pass The Bar
Once you have passed law school (and graduated from you LL.M if you choose that route), you cannot become a licensed lawyer in the United States until you have passed the standard bar exam. Before you can practice law in any US state or jurisdiction, you must first pass the bar exam and complete that state’s admissions process. To assess a candidate’s capacity to think like a lawyer and establish that they have the “minimum competency” to practice law in that state, each jurisdiction administers a bar exam.
The bar exam is usually a 2-day test held on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July, though there are some states that require a 3-day test.
Average Salary of an Aviation Lawyer
the average salary of an aviation lawyer depends on a few different factors. The main factors on which the salary of an aviation lawyer depends are:
- The size of their law firm
- State or city
This chart below gives a general overview of the average salary of an aviation lawyer based on years of experience.
|More than 3 years||$223,000|
|More than 6 years||$495,000|
Becoming an aviation lawyer is an exciting career, however its not for the faint hearted. The field is highly competitive, the schooling is long but the pay the rewards are high. We suggest doing a tonne of research prior to jumping into the program to ensure its something you want to do. Even taking an undergrad in aviation will give you a good idea if you want to continue your education and get your law degree.