Why I want to be a lawyer – the most common question law students should ask themselves; they should know that the Bar is not about having a profession or a job, but a lifestyle. It doesn’t imply choosing a way to follow in life, but choosing an actual way of life that will reflect over all the aspects – professional life and personal life. It’s true, being a lawyer can be a river of milk and honey, but you’ll have to swim the whole time and the time left to enjoy the treat has to be perfectly organized.
Simply put, being a lawyer means – unfortunately for some people – pure mathematics, which implies solving problems day by day. The problems people need lawyers for are much more complex than math problems and incomparably more complex than the actual laws, hence the necessity to define your goals in the first place.
What it means to be a lawyer
Being a lawyer can mean multiple things, including the necessity to work round the clock for personal growth. In today’s climate of society, when the law dynamics go to incredible limits, studying on a regular basis is extremely important. In fact, this activity takes so many energy resources that lawyers barely have time to unveil their creativity.
On another hand, people who need a lawyer will inevitably have the tendency to minimize their efforts. The tendency is given by people’s idea regarding why they get in touch with the legal system – because they think they’re right, of course. As a direct consequence, the client believes that a lawyer is an auxiliary bad thing in the attempt to express their rights. But apart from the negatives of this profession, there are even more good things associated with it.
The meaning of lawyer implies helping. If you like helping people, this industry is for you. Learning how to be a lawyer will take time, indeed, as well as resources, yet the result is quite satisfactory. It’s a constant struggle to be on top and the harder you work, the better your results will taste. The law always leaves room for interpretation. There’s always a back door to achieve the required result. Finding that back door is the challenge that keeps lawyers motivated and entertained.
Lawyer job duties vary widely. The legal industry is split into multiple sections. For instance, some lawyers are specialized in family matters, like divorces and child custody. Some others deal with properties or business laws only. Finance lawyers are just as popular, not to mention employment and labor lawyers. There are literally dozens of practices in this industry, hence the importance of setting your pathway clearly before choosing one specialization or another.
Benefits of being a lawyer
So why be a lawyer? Is a lawyer a good job? What are the benefits?
The truth is there are plenty of them, starting with the freedom of speech. Don’t get this wrong – it doesn’t mean lawyers can’t express themselves. Instead, it means the lawyer has a specific position to allow expressive arguments in their favor. They expose the problem in a light that favors the client – not just juridical arguments, but also economical and social factors. This is probably the most interesting part of lawyer job duties.
You inevitably have to put yourself in the judge’s shoes and think about it – what kind of verdict would they give if you expose the problem in a certain way? You’ll have to evaluate the chance to win and find all the arguments to help out. A judge might be in the same situation, but the stake is higher for them.
Not having to make any major decisions is yet another advantage. Sure, as a lawyer, you’ll have to make plenty of choices related to the client. But then, none of them will compare to a judge’s responsibility. This aspect clears the pressure off your shoulders and allows you to assess the situation in a more efficient manner.
The time is yet another major consideration. A lawyer’s work may sometimes ask for full days in the office. Some cases will require extra hours on a daily basis. With all these, the time in work will somehow provide some control over your ways and the way you choose to manage activities. Over the past decades, lawyers have gained plenty of independence in term of timing. Despite hard cases that demand extra work, lawyers find more and more time for themselves and their families. It’s all about being flexible.
Disadvantages of being a lawyer
Just like for any other profession, learning how to be a lawyer implies learning how to deal with stress too. There are billing pressures, as well as deadlines you’ll have to meet. Some cases imply long hours, but most importantly, laws keep changing every once in a while. You’re in a constant move, so you have to be flexible. Throw in client demands and evolving legal technologies and it’s no wonder why this industry is not for everyone. However, it works for those who like challenges and flexibility.
A lawyer is a person who’ll deal with people. In a world where access to education is more general than ever, people are more aware of their legal rights, as well as their spendings. Some people choose to represent themselves in court, while others will inevitably shop around in the smallest details. These aspects force lawyers to keep billing rates under a certain level. It’s hard for a good lawyer to raise the price for a good service when similar tasks can be performed by cheaper professionals, like paralegals.
Types of lawyers
So you’ve decided – I want to be a lawyer. Fine, what’s the next step then? Choosing a specialization is mandatory. There is no such thing as a general lawyer. No matter how far you want to get, you’ll never be able to become a professional if you’re just turning into a jack of all trades. The legal field is complex and large. When trying to describe a lawyer, it’s all about the specialization.
The most popular types of lawyers include:
- Personal injury
- Estate planning
- Intellectual property
- Medical malpractice
- Workers compensation
- Social security disability
- Civil litigation
- General practice
How to tell if being a lawyer is for you
Most people question their decisions before making them. You’re probably the same – you know why I want to be a lawyer and you know the meaning of lawyer. But what if this isn’t for you? Ask yourself a few questions before enrolling.
Can you speak in public? You must feel comfortable exposing a case to the court. You’ll do it in front of witnesses, boards, juries, judges and so on. At some point, you might have to lead meetings or head committees, make presentations and use your charisma. If you feel comfortable with that, you can go on.
Can you handle the finances? Unless you sit on a decent load of money, you’ll need to get a college loan. Consider the repayment as well. You’ll spend quite some years educating and specializing yourself, then you’ll start earning. It depends on your specialization, as well as the job.
Can you perform under pressure? Pressure can tackle you from multiple directions. There are multiple tests you’ll have to take before becoming a lawyer. Sometimes, your final grade is determined by just one test, but usually, there will be more throughout your schooling years. Pressure also comes in court. Each case is different and pressure is inevitable. Performing well is a matter of self-control
Do you like words? Words make the difference in court. If you’re not good with words and you don’t have a strong convincing power over people, this career may not be for you. After all, what is the work of a lawyer? What about the purpose of a lawyer? Exactly – convincing people. It’s about exposing a problem in a favorable way. Sure, no one is born an oral master, but it’s trainable. If you like words, it’s going to be part of the game.
How to become a lawyer
The definition of a lawyer is highly related to the specialization. No matter what specialization you choose, there are certain steps to become a lawyer – law school is the main one. Aspiring solicitors will have to complete a course. Deciding on the specialization must be done at an early stage. There are numerous law schools out there. Obviously, the more reputable the school is, the better you’ll become, yet this isn’t a general rule. There is some unofficial snobbery around though.
Training contracts are part of the game too. Some students start before they graduate, while others wait until they get a diploma. These contracts vary in length, but they usually take one or two years. Meanwhile, you’ll be an assistant, so you’ll hang around with lawyers and learn from them.
Keep in mind that firm companies will not only look at the academically able graduates. After all, there’s no point in hiring someone with top degrees if their tongue turns to jelly when they talk to clients. You need additional qualities, such as proper communication and interpersonal skills. Fortunately, these things can be trained.
The lawyer salary 2018 – is it worth?
Lawyer jobs are expected to grow by 9% by 2026. Most other legal occupations will go up by 10%. It’s still a good career for the future.
The median salary earned by a lawyer in 2017 was around $120,000. Some lawyers earned up to $180,000 based on specialization and location, while the lower spectrum of the scale brought in salaries of $80,000. Given the constant growth of this industry, the salary is expected to be higher in 2017. Some states or cities have a higher budget, as well as higher living costs, so wages are obviously higher too. For example, California is one of the top-rated states for well-paid lawyers, as well as Connecticut.
The specialization is just as important, as well as the actual job. When working for a small company dealing with low-income clients, you’ll obviously earn less than if you worked for a big law firm.
Absolute truths in becoming a lawyer
There are a series of myths related to the legal field – many of them nothing but rumors. However, some truths are absolute and worth some attention.
- Law firms would rather hire graduates from “redbrick” universities, so start planning early.
- Research different types of specializations before committing to one, as well as the job opportunities.
- Law companies are most commonly structured in partnerships, so they’re not necessarily companies.
- The costs associated with becoming a lawyer are high, yet there are certain law firms that will provide financial help. Study loans are also available.
- Strong academics is the main necessity. Going with the basics will not take you too far.
- Hours in the legal field are always unpredictable – sometimes long and exhausting, other times you have nothing to do.
As a short final conclusion, becoming a lawyer is certainly a challenge. There are multiple motivational factors in the process, as well as some drawbacks that might discourage you. The actual victory is the main advantage of being a lawyer – the victory of graduation and the victory of winning a case. Few jobs are so special from this point of view. As your experience keeps growing, you gain more and more good memories to keep the levels of serotonin high.
Believe it or not, winning a trial is such a big victory that you will not even care if the client paid all the money. You won’t care whether the client even thanks you or not. The more victories you get, the more exciting your life becomes.
It’s also worth noting that lots of lawyers will never retire. They spend their whole lives working until their last day, only for this feeling of victory.