“Suits,” “Better Call Saul,” and many other TV series portray the cool side of those who practice law — calm, collected, and composed. It shows how noble and exciting a profession it is to become a lawyer. There are many reasons why one would want to consider this line of work. Perhaps it is the high paychecks attorneys cash each month or the satisfyingly unique esquire you get to put in front of your name.
Whatever the reason may be, there are many fields of law to choose from, such as constitutional law, employment law, criminal law, intellectual property law, corporate law, and many more. Our team of attorneys helps injured victims and others secure the financial compensation they need to continue with their lives and also helps with legal questions. We’ve helped improve so many lives over the last decade through our profession, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But should you consider becoming a lawyer?
Let’s review some important factors you should consider before deciding to become a lawyer.
Law School is Expensive
Student debt has become a huge problem for many in the United States, and going to law school does not come cheap. According to the most recent statistics available, the loan debt for those pursuing law school in the years 2015–2016 stood at a staggering $142,900. Private law schools require you to take out a huge student loan as it can set you back just under $50,000 per year, while the cost of a public law school can average about $21,300 per year.
Once graduated, there is an opportunity to cover all those study expenses since the salaries are typically good. However, that all depends on where you are working, which location the law firm is in, and other factors.
Is the Salary Worth the Cost of Schooling?
In 2018, the average salary for entry-level attorneys in the United States stood at $75,000 per year, while those with considerable experience averaged a salary of $122,960 annually. The paychecks are enough to repay your law student debt easily, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for attorneys is rising at a 6% pace. Weigh in the costs of law school and the potential for earnings after receiving your law degree to help you decide.
It Is a 3-year Intensive Study Program
After receiving your bachelor’s degree, you can apply to law school to pursue a legal education. Law school will be an intensive 3-year program if you’re studying full time. That’s a total of 7 years of study experience considering that your bachelor’s took you four years to complete. However, you do have the opportunity to pursue a legal career without going to law school.
Some individuals wanting to join law school might already have a job and may not want to take three years off from their work. In such situations, joining the part-time law school program to cope with work and the law school curriculum is best.
It Might be Best to Take Your Time
There are law schools that offer accelerated programs, allowing aspiring young lawyers to complete their law school in just two years. However, you may want to think twice about such programs, as they can become really hectic.
The Law School Admission Test Is Challenging
To receive admission to a law school, prospective law students must take the law school admissions test or the LSAT and secure a high score before sending in their law school application. Law school experts suggest that students should strive for a minimum score of 150 to be able to apply to accredited law schools in the country.
Those with perfect or near-perfect LSAT scores have an increased chance of receiving admission to the most prestigious law schools in America. Most law schools in America will require a score of 150 for acceptance, but to secure admission to the top 25 US law schools, you must score 160 or higher on your LSAT. Those with scores above 170 can aim for the top 10 law programs in the United States.
We recommend checking out the 25th and 75th percentiles of the LSAT scores for the law schools you want to apply to. Also, check their median score, as this information will help you determine the required LSAT score for that particular law school.
Besides the LSAT, the law school will continuously test you on their course material through their frequent testing. After receiving a law degree, you will have to pass your state bar exam if you wish to practice law.
You Must Embrace Public Speaking
Many attorneys you may come across will be extroverts in the way they talk and present themselves. They will be highly approachable yet fierce. This is a trait that is notorious in the legal industry and is important in presenting facts, evidence, and more to the relevant legal parties clearly.
Yes, You Need to Talk a Lot
Corporate attorneys must be able to read the room, remain calm during stressful times, and be present in the board room confidently. However, that does not mean that there is no space for introverts in this field. Introverts can read and listen to other people much better than extroverts, and that is also a highly appreciated trait. It’s a matter of embracing public speaking so that you’re able to represent your clients when the need arises.
There Is a Lot of Writing Involved
A lawyer’s tool is their words. They can craft arguments, take depositions, and draft important legal documents. When you start law school, if you’re not good at writing, you’ll find yourself struggling. Writing is a skill required in this profession, and it is best to start practicing early before joining a law school.
You Also Might Need to Write a Lot
As a lawyer, no matter how much you progress in your career, you can not escape from writing. Throughout your career, you’ll find yourself drafting legal contracts, typing out case briefs, and doing other tasks. If you’re not good with words and don’t want to pursue a career that involves writing, perhaps pursuing law school is not for you.
You Must Have Analytical Skills for Critical Thinking
Analytical skills are an important skill that lawyers must have. Whether you’re structuring a multi-million dollar deal, drafting legal contracts, or creating a strategy for trial, analytical skills will help you view all perspectives before you proceed with the task at hand.
First-year law students go through a lot of legal cases to help with their critical thinking. Studying at a law school helps law students think like a lawyer before they become trial lawyers, personal injury lawyers, or in any other legal profession.
If you don’t have any analytical skills, don’t worry. It’s one of those skills that you can practice and learn over time. But if you’re not into critical thinking, it is best to reconsider your passion for the law.
Be Ready to Work Long Hours
Unlike many fields where individuals graduate and start a 9 to 5 job, a profession in the legal field is completely the opposite of that. Not only are you required to stay up-to-date with the latest changes in the law, but also put in more than 40 hours a week. Many law firms will state 40 working hours, but as you start working on cases, the caseload will start to pile up and you may find yourself sitting late at night in the office working.
It’s not that all lawyers work 40 hours a week, but if you’re looking for a work-life balance, you may find yourself compromising on the salary.
You Have to Market Yourself
If you want to work at a law firm, you must be really good at marketing yourself and the firm you work at. From compensation to bonuses, partnership opportunities, and more, your career progression at a law firm will depend on how many clients or the amount of business you bring to the firm.
There are some fields of law that do not require a high level of marketing, but you will still need to go above and beyond to impress your clients and your supervisors if you wish to succeed at the firm.
You Must Be Presentable at All Times
Casual clothing is a big NO for lawyers. Attorneys must be presentable at all times to inspire trust, command respect, and portray a confident image. This professional attire, suits, and dress shoes tell the client and relevant parties that you mean business.
No matter what the time of day, if you receive a call for a meeting, you must be there in business attire. So if the thought of wearing business attire all day long does not sit well with you, avoid becoming a trial lawyer. There are other fields of law that offer a bit more latitude when it comes to business attire.
The General Perception of a Lawyer
Lawyers have to go through an undergraduate degree, a three-year law school, and the state bar examination before practicing in the United States. Such requirements make the law a noble, respectable profession that also pays very well. That said, it is our responsibility to let young aspiring lawyers know that the perception is not always that.
When working with clients, anything could go wrong, causing the client to distrust the lawyer and blame them for their loss. This can often take a mental toll, especially if an innocent client ends up in jail just because of her errors. There are also situations where attorneys help criminals avoid punishment for crimes they actually committed.
In such situations, lawyers are not portrayed as heroes but villains. We are not implying that all lawyers accept such jobs, as there are many with high moral standards. However, young lawyers who are financially struggling may take on the case, especially if the pay is really good.
Not all lawyers are after money, but some really want to do good before they leave this world. You’ll come across lawyers offering legal services for free because of their good hearts.
Going over these factors will help you understand where you stand and whether applying to a law school is a good opportunity for you. Not everyone is cut out to become a lawyer, but if you’re really interested in working in the legal sector, there are other nonlawyer professions out there that you should consider.