Exploring Law as a Career: Edition 1

A career in law can be very versatile. The juris doctor degree provides the tools for law graduates to pursue one of many careers, whether it is in private practice or the public sector. This three-part series will give an overview of the law as a career, focus in on different types of practice, and highlight specific practice areas.

What Lawyers Do. Lawyers are advocates, advisors, and problem solvers. Though lawyers practice in a vast variety of settings, ultimately, there are core skills that lawyers all practice.

Lawyers:

  • Represent clients in courts, before government agencies, and in private legal matters, ensuring their clients have their opportunity to be heard.
  • Communicate with their clients, colleagues, judges, and others involved in the case to work towards a desired outcome.
  • Research and analyze complex legal problems, and apply the law to a client’s case at hand.
  • Interpret laws, rulings, and regulations for their clients.
  • Advise and present facts in writing and verbally to their clients, co-counsel, opposing counsel, and the court.
  • Draft, revise, and file legal documents, such as lawsuits, appeals, wills, contracts, and deeds.

The law can be an incredibly rewarding profession which provides vast opportunities to develop, change, and evolve your career.   At its best, legal practice challenges the intellect and provides rewarding opportunities to exercise leadership, judgement, and advocacy skills.  It provides unique avenues to not only assist clients in significant and impactful ways, but to also help shape legal doctrine and processes.  The ethics of the profession require attorneys to promote justice, fairness, and morality; thus, legal employment can also bring satisfaction to those who seek to work, within the law, to rectify social injustice.

As stated, pursuing a career in law offers vast and diverse career choices, from public interest law and government law to private practice in a firm.   As significant as the rewards in a law career can be, it is also a challenging and highly competitive career.  An important step in exploring legal careers is to distinguish between commonly held expectations (especially based on media portrayals of lawyers) and the reality of legal practice.  Hours can be very long and often include weekends. The differences among starting salaries can exceed $100,000 depending on the type of legal practice. Legal work can require spending considerable time in tedious, painstaking research. Legal practice can be stressful and present challenges for individuals who seek well portioned work-life balance.

The good news is the diversity of career choices available through law can provide many options for individuals to select career paths that are best suited for their individual goals.   Not all pre-law students will know the area of law they want to practice, but it is advisable to explore the various career options of a lawyer as part of your decision-making process.  In the upcoming blog series, we will explore different types of practice settings and different fields of law to help you begin determining if a law career is right for you.

Learn More about the Legal Profession and Careers:

Stay tuned for next week’s blog, discussing the different types of practice lawyers have!

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