Many people hesitate to enter the law area either because of the extensive education or because they find what lawyers do nasty.
But in reality, society needs trustworthy and reliable people in the law field.
Lawyers do so much more than just going to court.
They spend long nights researching, drive around a lot and communicate with multiple people every day.
If you think that you can get a grip on this profession, you may want to consider becoming a lawyer.
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Also, this profession comes with a nice paycheck.
Job Overview of a Lawyer
The specific responsibilities of every lawyer depend on the type of practiced law and the types of clients they represent.
You may be representing individuals, businesses, or even government entities.
The tasks common for lawyers of all specialties include the following:
- Providing legal advice to clients about current and future court cases.
- Communicating with judges, clients, witnesses, and attorneys.
- Researching and analyzing laws and interpreting and applying them to cases of the clients.
- Arguing on behalf of clients in a court by presenting the researched and communicated facts.
- Organizing and filing legal documents with specific entities including deeds, contracts, lawsuits, wills, and appeal.
In various work environments, lawyers may have paralegals and assistants helping them around the office.
However, as you only start, most of the routine work will be delegated to you, so you can gain experience.
The Four Responsibilities of Lawyers
According to Harvard Law School, there are four key ethical responsibilities of a lawyer.
Lawyers are the ones responsible for the integrity and justice of the legal system.
Similar to the Hippocratic oath to do no harm that doctors have, lawyers have certain responsibilities to uphold as wise leaders and counselors.
- Responsibilities to uphold the legal system.
- Responsibilities to uphold the rights of clients and stakeholders.
- Responsibilities to various institutions.
- Responsibilities to uphold the well-being of society at large.
Types of Lawyers
The career in law has multiple possibilities.
The work environment, duties, salary, and hours, all depends on the type of clients you represent and the type of law you practice.
Here are some of the most common types of practices that lawyers choose:
- Prosecuting attorneys.
- Public or private defense attorneys.
- Tax lawyers.
- Intellectual property attorneys (a growing industry thanks to the internet with plenty of uncharted territories).
- Family lawyers (custody, divorce, prenuptial agreements, etc.).
- Securities lawyers (managing stocks and initial public offerings).
- Civil liberty attorneys.
Skills and Education
Becoming a lawyer is not easy.
First off, aspiring lawyers have to complete about seven years of school.
The first step includes going through four years of undergraduate school to earn a Bachelor’s degree.
At this point, you could choose something in public speaking or criminal justice.
Next, you’ll have to complete three years of law school.
These three years at law school will be extremely hard.
Many law students are advised against having a job or much of a social life during this time.
You can earn your degree in nearly any law school you can find.
To be sure that your education will be accepted by the American Bar Association, you need to check with them which schools are accredited and valid.
Before you can apply to a law school, you need to take an intense test called LSAT.
It stands for Law School Admission Test, and it ensures that you are competent to make it through the education at a law school.
You shouldn’t be discouraged by this.
Multiple aspiring law students take the LSAT exam several times before applying to the chosen school.
Any prospective lawyer should have a good character and a clean criminal record.
If you have any history of poor academic performance or substance abuse, it can disrupt your career plans greatly.
Upon completion of a law school, you will have to pass the bar examination, after which you will receive a license to practice law.
The rules and regulations of this test are different in every jurisdiction, so you need to take the test in the area where you plan to practice law.
You might need to take this test a few times, but if you made it that far, you shouldn’t give up on this.
The job of a lawyer is challenging and takes long hours, but the compensation for the effort is more than fair.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median salary of a lawyer to be at $119,250 in 2017.
However, this is the amount you can make after a while of work.
Lawyers who just graduated from a law school can make between $50,000 and $60,000 at the start.
As you gain experience and work in the field for several years and prove your worth, your wage will increase.
On the downside, it might take a while for you to pay off your student loan.
You have to remember that your salary will be determined by multiple factors, including the types of clients you represent and the law you practice.
Lawyers who represent large corporations as a part of the team can make up to $160,000 per year.
The salary of public defenders representing people who can’t afford attorney services will be significantly lower.
Regardless of the specialty and practice, lawyers work long hours.
On the bright side, you will be prepared for this at law school.
The schedule is full-time, and most lawyers work more than 40 hours per week.
During the day, you may have to travel between the courthouses to meet judges, attorneys, and government workers.
You may also have to meet with clients and provide them with advice concerning their cases.
Alternatively, you may spend the entire day at the courtroom representing your clients.
Lawyers face a lot of high stakes situations and work under pressure.
It’s helpful having a personality that allows you to go with the flow.
After standard business hours, you may find yourself in your office researching the upcoming cases, conducting interviews, or studying figures.
You’ll have to get used to the feeling that there’s never enough hours in the day to get everything done.
Even though lawyers have their offices, they don’t spend much time there.
Mostly, only to meet with the clients.
Typically, you’ll work on the go on whatever task you have at the moment.
During business hours, you can expect to travel around to meet attorneys and other people working in the justice system.
Until 5 pm, you will unlikely return to your office.
And after that, you may have some time to deal with paperwork and research.
Many people enter this field for prestige and money, which is a big mistake.
Law is an industry of high pressure with constant face-to-face interaction.
Not everyone is carved for it.
There are certain personality traits the lawyers need to have to succeed in the law field.
Lawyers interact with multiple people of all classes, personalities, and backgrounds.
You need them to work in your favor.
Moreover, you need to earn your client’s trust.
Therefore, interpersonal skills are highly important for lawyers.
Research and analytical skills:
It’s not easy to understand the laws, even for lawyers.
Attorneys have to be able to analyze and process a lot of information to figure out what can be useful and winning in a case.
You should get comfortable and ready for disappointment because this is something every lawyer experiences every day.
Besides having an objective and realistic attitude to life, you need excellent problem-solving skills to bounce back quickly.
Writing and verbal skills:
When you’re not speaking in court or communicating to other attorneys or judges, you will be writing.
It should be on point.
Being a natural public speaker or having a charismatic personality can greatly help you.
If you like the job description of a lawyer so far and think this may be a good fit for you, you’re lucky because the prospects of the career are great.
According to the BLS, the employment rate should increase by 8% through 2026.
First of all, you should be ready to spend a long time on education and face the challenges ahead.
To know what you should live up to in your state to become a lawyer, check out the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
Through them, you can also find a handful of useful resources that will prepare you for the future career.