CAREERS IN THE LAND OF LAW
You may have seen various lawyers in movies or TV shows, or you might have read about them in books. And more than once, you surely have thought of following their path as your career. Becoming an attorney is surely an exciting and noble goal, and added to that, the profession pays well & comes with a lot of prestige. You can choose from various specialties like corporate law, tax law, entertainment law, cyber law, and criminal law. Should you choose to follow a path in law and justice, let us take a deeper insight into it.
You may have researched a lot & you are interested in pursuing a profession as a lawyer. Congratulations that is one of the best career choices you might have made, but how do you become a lawyer? Well, not unlike in most other professions, you need to be highly qualified and experienced to be a good lawyer. You’d have to do well in school, take the law entrance tests, apply for law schools, work hard, do well in college, pass the Bar Exam, and find a law job. You have the scope to practice in private or work for a government and a private firm.
UNDERSTANDING THE JOB
Before you decide on your job as a lawyer, it would be better if you get to know more about what you are expected to do and the steps you would have to follow. Let’s learn about it in depth.
CAREER FACTORS TO CONSIDER
Usually, a law school is very costly. So you might have to depend on student loans. However, the salary after your school may help you make up for it, depending on where you work. The median compensation increases with your experience and seniority and would help you pay off your loans pretty soon.
Law schools usually have a five-year degree, that you would have to attend full time. You would get internships and be able to work with senior lawyers and attend court tribunals to help you learn. These internships would often overlap with your college hours, and those hours are allowed as study hours or leave.
As an attorney, public speaking would be a part of your day to day life, communicating with different people. You’d have to present information to clients, juries, judges, arbitrators, opposing counsel, witnesses, boards, and colleagues.
Attorneys are expected to be as good as writing as they are good at speaking. Logical reasoning and critical thinking skills are necessary for the practice of law. Systematic analytical skills are necessary for all practice areas, irrespective of whether you are structuring a heavy paying deal, or developing a trial strategy. Sometimes, you’d have to work for long hours, as clients often expect you to be available around the clock for their problems.
Many law firm attorneys are responsible for client and business development, as a lot of their bonuses and compensations depend on their ability to bring in business for the firm, at least in part. Most lawyers have to spend their workdays in suits and business attire. Casual dress is not the norm. As many may call it, their uniform helps command respect, inspires trust, and conveys a polished image.
REASONS TO PRACTICE LAW
Becoming a lawyer is a gigantic undertaking in terms of time, commitment, and financial investment. Law school and passing the bar exam can be very difficult, and you would have to work hard. Being a lawyer can be fun sometimes, but many times not. However, it has its perks.
As a lawyer, you would earn a lot, depending on your skills and experience. For the world’s best lawyers, the income can go as high as a million US dollars annually. However, not all lawyers earn a high amount, and it depends a lot on their employer size, experience levels, and geographic locations. Another thing that comes along the high salary is prestige and respect.
As a lawyer, you are in a unique position to help individuals, groups or companies, and firms with their legal problems in the public good. Sometimes, lawyers also perform pro–bono work for people from low-income groups and the undeserved portion of the population. This helps in providing cheap justice to the needy. Working as a professional lawyer is an intellectually rewarding job as you learn new things and tackle new problems in every case you encounter. You also have a diverse area of practice as a lawyer.
Sometimes lawyers get to travel a lot, to other cities or sometimes even countries, to participate in trials, depositions, arbitration, and business deals. You can also be friends with a lot of people in really high places, and that has its perks.
Lawyers advise and represent clients on l, including animal rights. They can constitute individuals, groups of individuals as a single, litigating party, or even the government.
Lawyers represent either the plaintiff— the party that’s initiating or filing a legal action suit — or the defendant, and the party charged or sued. They advance their clients’ cases through written documents and oral arguments and help their clients understand how their specific case applies to the law. The daily roles and responsibilities can vary considerably, but the outline of their work remains the same.
Perform legal research & determine how the facts of a case interact
Interview new clients & meet with existing clients to render legal advice
Perform research on the case by taking depositions, attending site inspections, & involving in discovery and exchange of data pertinent to a case from both parties to the action
Draft legal documents, including discovery, motions, pleadings, briefs, contracts, and wills to help their clients.
Argue motions in a case & attend other pre-trial court appearances before a judge.
Follow up after a court verdict has been handed down or a settlement has been reached, ensuring that the concerned parties do what they’ve been committed or ordered.
Corporate attorneys structure and negotiate business transactions, perform due diligence, prepare and submit materials to governmental bodies, and supervise closings. Corporate lawyers usually work on “deals” instead of “cases,” They advocate in boardrooms more than courtrooms.
The job market for lawyers is growing due to increased demand for legal services fueled by population growth. To bring down the costs associated with legal processes, people might shift towards accounting firms, paralegals, and overseas legal vendors. This would negatively affect the business of lawyers.
Many lawyers prefer working in private practice, either in a law firm or a solo practice. Those working in large firms often start as associates and have to work their way up to partner. However, the workplace of a lawyer rarely changes from either their office or the courtroom.
CHALLENGES OF BEING A LAWYER
As a lawyer, you would have to face a lot of challenges in your path. With every case comes a lot of stress in deadlines, billing pressures, client demands, long hours, changing laws, and other demands. Such insurmountable stress and a rising workload often make you work long hours, sometimes even on weekends and evenings. For cases, you might even have to relocate temporarily, sometimes even for long stretches for a long drawn case.
There are always chances of losing a client to the lawyer next door in a competitive job market, just because his billing rate is lower than yours by a few rupees. More lawyers graduate every year than there are jobs. Clients have grown conscious of their legal spending and want every penny’s worth of service, and there is no stopping them from choosing a cheaper lawyer.
Sometimes, you might not like your clients for various reasons. They might be rude or arrogant. Some might not be able to afford you at your full rate, but you have to work with them to beat the market inflation. However, to survive in the constant rising competitive waves, you cannot pick and choose your client. You would have to give your best possible representation for each one of them. You would have to give higher priority to your profession over your personal feelings towards them and be tolerant of all of them.
To become a lawyer, you must undergo extensive educational training and testing before getting a license to practice it. The exact requirements may be different for different states, and of course, it differs in different countries. However, educational qualifications always include certain degrees and exams.
As a working professional, it is highly recommended to be in a continuous learning loop, as it may be required to give tests to renew your license. While attorneys are a diverse group of people with different and varied backgrounds, there are many common skills to most successful lawyers. If you feel that you already have these skills, then it is good for you; however, if not, then you must try to inculcate them as soon as possible to be successful in your career.
Exceptional oral & written communication skills:Many cases are won or lost based on the written submissions before the judge even before a lawyer appears in front of a judge. They must have great communication skills for court appearances.
Analytical skills:Lawyers have to get the idea of whether they can manage to win the case from the start and advise their clients accordingly.
Empathy and compassion:Clients come to lawyers because they have problems that need to be sorted out. They do not usually come to you at the best of times, and you are expected to be warm and friendly towards them and understand their problems.
Honesty and trustworthiness:Lawyers must follow strict ethical guidelines and client confidentiality rules.
It is not just the educational qualifications that make you a good lawyer, but also your experience and behavior. You must keep yourself updated about cases that are currently going on, as you might have to cite them in the future for your cases. No two cases are completely identical, but they may not be much different either.
Although not mandatory, it is always better to work as an intern while studying in law college. This would help you learn, and it adds immeasurable value to your resume, and make a huge difference in a competitive employment climate.
WORKING AS A LAWYER
WORKING FOR PRIVATE PRACTICE
Many lawyers work in private law firms, they wither practice on their own or might work as partners in a firm and share its profits and risks, or as associates – attorneys who haven’t reached full partnership status yet. They offer legal services in a broad range of practice areas.
In some cases, firm professionals’ time demands limit their ability to pursue outside interests and family life. Many respondents exchange lower compensation for fewer hours at the office and in court, even if it affects their potential for advancement.
WORKING FOR A BIG LAW FIRM
Large law firms are typically the most competitive when it comes to hiring. As such, these firms are also known to offer some of the greatest perks. They pay their attorneys a lot, and you get to work with well-credentialed colleagues. The client base is large & diverse, and they have extensive firm resources for study and reference whenever required. Big firms offer luxurious offices in good geographical locations, which attract more clients, and you have significant advancement opportunities. To conclude, working in a big company gives you a lot of attention in the legal industry, and the company names are associated with a certain level of prestige.
SHOULD YOU WORK PRO BONO?
Pro bono usually refers to donating professional work for the public good, & it’s often linked with legal work. It usually describes legal services provided free of charge or at a much-reduced fee for those who need it. Pro bono cases and services leverage the skills of legal professionals to help those unable to afford lawyers. Every professional lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those that are unable to pay. Many lawyers believe that pro bono work is important.
Attorney-client privilege is the provision which states that the lawyer cannot talk about anything that is discussed between him/her and the client. As an attorney, you will never be forced to testify as to what the client told you. Lawyer-client confidentiality is an offshoot to this provision.
Lawyer-client confidentiality refers to the lawyer’s legal obligation not to divulge what his client tells him. Doing so is an ethics violation and might cause disciplinary sanctions against the lawyer unless the client gives his lawyer his informed consent to go ahead and speak. The client might waive his right to lawyer-client privilege as well.