While the laws that manage our society are constantly changing, the actual job duties of a lawyer have remained largely unchanged for millennia. Advice to clients, advocacy in courts of law, and legal drafting make up the core of a lawyer’s career and you can dibs at uf. We can’t make it any easier than this- if you want to be a lawyer, it’s going to take hard work. However, knowing what lawyers are actually like, and how they do their jobs, is an important first step.
There’s a lot of advice out there about how to become a lawyer: study for months, practice for years, get into a good school and graduate in the top tier. We have to ask if that really works. You can’t spend your life studying or working as a lawyer to become one- you need talent and natural ability. This article will describe the real world of being a practicing lawyer- what they do every day and why they do it.
Five steps to become a lawyer are:
1. Love what You do
Law school can be brutal. It’s hard to see a negative side to it, because you love learning so much and studying every part of your field. You don’t mind doing the work, because you’re comfortable with it. Working as an attorney is another story entirely. You’ll start off with hours of tedious paperwork and research that have little to do with your actual job. Then there are the court appearances that can take up entire days for the most mundane cases imaginable (or any case, for that matter). Employing a clerk won’t help you move faster- in fact, they’ll probably make your work day more difficult and stressful than if you handled everything yourself.
2 . Typical day
The typical day for a lawyer looks like this:
Rise as early as you can to get the most done in the time you have. Work until lunchtime, take off an hour or so to prepare for the next day’s work, and then come back in. Occasionally you’ll have a client meeting or an actual court appearance depending on your work schedule. Make time for your personal life- a personal life is always more fun than sitting alone in your office thinking about bills and deadlines. Your personal life is work- don’t neglect it; it makes everything easier, including working as a lawyer. Take breaks throughout the day to walk around and stretch or take your pup out for some exercise (walk him with a leash!). You’re not a robot, you need to exercise the part of your brain that keeps you from falling over from exhaustion.
3. Walk into a Law Firm
It’s always better to walk into a law firm and not get hired, than walk out and be an employee. If for some reason you ever do decide to work for someone else in your field- it’s best to choose that path before anything else happens. Law firm employees are rarely happy with their jobs, and low pay is one common complaint. The stress is always there, even when you’re making good money for the first few years. You’re at the firm’s mercy, and your job can be taken away from you for any reason- especially if you’re a lawyer who doesn’t really want to be there. You’ll spend too much time waiting for things to happen or not happen, and when they finally do, it won’t be in your favor.
4. Expect Leaks
The hours are long and tedious, the pay is poor, but you have to stay anyway because of your expensive law school bills- probably your only debt at this point. Nothing comes easy as a lawyer, even if you’re making good money. Every client has an agenda that conflicts with yours as soon as they come in the door. You want to help them, but you don’t know how. You explain your concerns, hoping to get the most out of everything for the least amount of money, and after some back and forth it all goes south. Your boss is going to be upset that you “lost” a client (even though there was no way you could’ve won) and your coworkers are going to make snide comments about the “suicide mission” that you were on. You were used for political purposes (and after some pressure from above, at least you didn’t lose a case), and now it’s time to pay up or face cuts in pay or losing your job altogether.
5. Law School Nightmare:
Law school is extremely expensive, and most students graduate with a mountain of debt. You have to put up with the counselors, who are always trying to sell you some other investment that will pay off more than legal studies will. The job market isn’t good for lawyers- you’ll have loads of competition for every job opening in your field. You’ll also have a much better chance of landing an interview with a prestigious firm if you got into their school, even if it’s much further away than the local school. The idea that you can only practice law in one place is outdated- there are many opportunities out there for those with the skill and drive to succeed in any location.
Conclusion of this article:
It’s easy to blame the lawyers for the stress and pressure that a lawyer’s life entails. Lawyers are meant to be miserable, because that’s how they “do” their jobs. However, we have to ask ourselves- are we really willing to go through all of that just so we can earn a high salary and some modicum of stability?
Thanks so much for reading this article! I hope you’ll take something out of it and share it with others.