What does a lawyer do?
Lawyers use their knowledge of the law and fair legal practices to provide quality legal advice to their clients. They advise them on the best course of action in both civil and criminal cases. Lawyers also interpret the law and various regulations for individuals and businesses.
When they have a case, they prepare the necessary documents, gather evidence, analyze probable outcomes and often appear in court to represent their clients. While in court, they present their case to the judge and the jury using logical reasoning and a combination of their persuasiveness and analytical abilities.
Related: Learn About Being a Lawyer
Benefits of being a lawyer
No matter the type of lawyer you are, having this profession comes with several advantages. Understanding the benefits of this job can help you determine whether you want to pursue a career in this field. Here are 11 benefits that come from this profession:
Variety of career options
As a lawyer, you can choose from several career options in the both public and private sectors. Once you pass the bar exam, you can choose the specialty you’re most passionate about. For example, you can represent citizens in your local community as a criminal prosecutor, or protect innocent lives as a criminal defense attorney. From real estate to corporate law, there are many ways for you to find fulfillment in this profession.
Starting your own business
Once you have your law degree and a decent amount of experience, you can start your own business. When you have your own business as a lawyer, you can decide how you want to operate. For example, you can work with multiple clients at a time if you prefer the social aspect of this career, or you can work with a single client for an extended period of time if you want greater consistency and job security.
Lawyers have the ability to earn a generous income. They make a national average salary of $50,979 per year. Though you may not earn this income as a new lawyer, you can work your way toward this salary with enough hard work and experience. However, finding satisfaction in your specific field may be worth more than your annual salary.
Related: How Much Do Lawyers Make?
As a lawyer, your daily duties can provide you with plenty of mental stimulation and challenges. For example, some of your responsibilities may include understanding complex legal theories and determining the possible outcomes for your clients when it comes to a case. To do this, you need to solve problems, form a hypothesis and create a legal strategy to benefit your client in the courtroom.
While some lawyers have unpredictable schedules, for the most part, this career allows you to fit your schedule to your particular needs. If you work for a law firm, they may even allow you to work from home. Having this option lets you spend more time with your family, giving you a greater work-life balance overall. Also, you can hire an assistant to help you with your duties.
As a lawyer, you have the opportunity to gain and grow several skills that can transfer to another career—whether it’s in the legal field or out of this industry completely. For example, you can use your negotiation skills as a lawyer in a real estate profession, your problem-solving skills as a customer service representative or your research skills as a legal consultant.
Ability to help others
As a lawyer, you have the ability to help businesses and people in need. While this profession allows you to seek justice for these parties, it also provides you with emotional rewards. Depending on your perspective, this can be more beneficial than the money you earn in this profession. Winning a case and resolving your client’s problem can prove even more emotionally satisfying.
Many lawyers spend time in a law firm, corporation or government agency during the day. This means they can avoid the traditional office cubicle that most professions provide. If you prefer a more open layout, this is a particularly beneficial perk.
In addition to having a pleasant environment, lawyers can also take advantage of several work perks. For example, some lawyers can also enjoy a decorating budget to help make their work environment more conducive to their productivity. Other work perks they may be able to take advantage of include plush accommodations, gym memberships and support staff to help minimize their workload.
Argue and debate
While not all lawyers argue in court, many trial attorneys do. If you enjoy a challenge and debating with other attorneys, this may be the career for you. During a court case, you not only have the chance to present your findings, but you can also argue legal theories, debate law interpretations and prove your point to the judge, jury and others in the courtroom.
Many people view the lawyer profession as one with a high level of prestige. This typically stems from their impressive degrees and the level of authority they have over others. This profession demands respect and is often viewed as glamorous by the media.
Related: How To Become a Lawyer
Drawbacks of being a lawyer
While being a lawyer comes with several enticing advantages, you also need to consider the drawbacks of this profession. If these drawbacks don’t outweigh the cons, this may be a suitable career for you. Here are the 11 disadvantages that may come from this profession:
When you’re in this profession, it’s important to meet deadlines and the demands of your clients. You may also come in contact with stressful and emotional cases that can have a negative impact on your mental health. Having control of your emotions is of utmost importance to find success in this career.
Even if you have a flexible schedule, there may be some days where you need to put in long hours to help your clients. This is mostly the case for new lawyers barely starting their careers. While a normal workweek consists of 40 hours, some lawyers put in 60 to 90 hours each week depending on the needs of the case they’re working on.
Many law schools come with a large price tag. Typically, the better the law school, the higher the educational expense. Even with a generous salary, new lawyers may not be able to pay off their debt as quickly as they’d hope to.
Not as many client opportunities
If a client seeks legal advice or counsel, they don’t always have to go to a lawyer for help. Recently, there’s been an increase in the number of self-service products, self-help legal websites, legal document technicians and virtual law offices. While these may not always be the most reputable options on legal matters, they still divert prospective clients away from lawyers.
Client’s aren’t spending as much
Clients have become more aware of legal fees and the prices lawyers charge for their services. When they’re more conscious of their legal spending, it forces lawyers to offer more reasonable rates to retain their business. If they’re charged an amount that seems too expensive, they may take their business elsewhere and get the help they need at a cheaper rate. For example, if your legal fees are too high, prospective clients may go to a paralegal or use technology to help answer their questions. This essentially results in a loss of profit and business for lawyers.
Threat of outsourced legal work
Since many foreign countries have a lower cost of living, they also have a lower cost of labor. This means they can complete the same amount of work at a cheaper cost compared to the United States and other developed countries. When this happens, there are fewer traditional positions available since these opportunities go to regional delivery centers or overseas low-wage workforces.
While being a lawyer is a reputable career, there’s always a chance you could earn a poor public image. Even if you win your cases, you may not be able to escape the negative reputation and jokes from the general public.
As a lawyer, you can often choose which clients you want to represent. However, if you want to earn a steady income, you may not be able to afford this luxury. While some of your clients may be friendly and professional, this may not always be the case. There will come a time when you don’t particularly like some of your clients, however, it’s your job to offer them the best representation to maintain your reputation.
Competitive job market
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates an employment growth of 4% in the next decade, there’s expected to be strong competition for this profession when it comes to the job market. This is because the number of recent graduates continues to exceed the job opportunities available. When there are fewer opportunities for lawyers to take advantage of, it can become stressful for legal professionals to find worthwhile positions—or any positions at all for that matter.
Increased reliance on technology
The rise in technology has influenced the legal landscape. To become a successful lawyer, you need to understand a wide range of technological platforms such as management tools, spreadsheets and billing software. Staying up-to-date with these technological advances can be a hassle for individuals who aren’t as technologically savvy. As previously mentioned, the rise in technology can also divert clients to online legal services that can offer help at a cheaper rate.
As a lawyer, it’s important to keep your knowledge of the law up-to-date and follow changes as they occur. This means you need to put in a heavy amount of research on each case to ensure you’re following current legal practices and regulations. While it may not always be the case, staying up-to-date on these changes can feel overwhelming and result in long days at the office.
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