Career Profile: Lawyer
Video: Lawyer Interview
Lawyer Career Path
Does the law hold a special affinity for you? Do you imagine yourself defending someone in court, convincing judge and jury about your client’s innocence with your persuasive powers? If this sounds like something you want to do, then a career as a lawyer could be something to consider. In this profession, you will have the chance to represent clients in court and before government and private offices. When you’re not in court, you will be analyzing your clients’ situation to determine the best way to defend them. You will also be preparing wills, contracts and other legal documentation.
While exemplary speaking skills are necessary for you to be able to defend your clients well, you need more than this to succeed in this profession. You must genuinely love reading lengthy books and legal documents and performing research in order to form the best defense possible.
Why Become A Lawyer
Being a lawyer is considered one of the more glamorous professions. However, its reputation is not enough reason to become a lawyer. Behind the smooth and suave exterior, lawyers have to do a lot of work, spending long nights reading, researching and writing. Thus, a career as a lawyer is best reserved for those who really love the challenge of defending both the innocent and the guilty using the law. Some enter the profession because they have the passion to ensure that the cause of justice is served. Of course, the high pay that comes with the profession is another reason to become a lawyer.
Lawyer Work Environment
Lawyers work in law offices, both in the private and public sectors. The work schedule is fulltime but overtime is common. Travel is often necessary, especially when they need to meet with clients in the latter’s homes, at the hospital, office or prison. Aside from their office, courtrooms are regular places frequented by lawyers as these are where hearings take place. It is a stressful job, particularly for those who defend high-profile clients in court.
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that lawyers received a mean annual wage of $131,990 or a median wage of $54.95 per hour. The agency reported that in May 2012, lawyers who worked in the finance and insurance industries received the highest pay at $134,940. Those working in the federal government, not including the postal service followed closely with a mean annual wage of $134,690. Those working in the legal services industry earned $116,630. Lawyers working in the local and state governments were paid the least at $87,140 and $79,220.
Lawyer Career Outlook
The employment rate of lawyers is expected to grow 10 percent in the ten-year period from 2012 to 2022. This is as fast as the rate for all job types. People, government and businesses will continue to need lawyers to take care of their legal services. In addition to law firms, financial firms, consulting firms and healthcare providers will also be hiring lawyers since it is more economical for them to have an in-house legal staff rather than hiring a legal firm to do the job.
The academic journey towards becoming a lawyer is a lengthy one. After high school, the aspiring lawyer has to finish an undergraduate degree to gain entry to law school. They will have to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) before they can be admitted to study law. In the J.D. program, students are taught constitutional law, property law, contracts, civil procedure and legal writing.
It will take another three years of formal study in law before one can get a law degree. All states require law graduates who wish to practice the profession to be admitted to the bar. This means they need to be licensed. Although there are different requirements for each state, law graduates typically need to take one or more written bar exams. If they want to practice in other states, they must take the different exams for each state. Continuing legal education is often required by most states for lawyers.