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How often do lawyers get pulled into exciting cases? Like, for example, is it all boring paperwork 364 days a year and fun 1 day? What's the split between boring and exciting work?


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Kim’s Answer

Harry,
A lot of this depends on the type of law that you are practicing. And, on what you consider exciting!! I had filed an Employment Law (discrimination and retaliation)case against my last employer, and, got to spend a lot of time actively working with the attorney. Yes, there was a lot of time spent buried in paperwork. The exciting parts, at least for me, were going through the Discovery Documents provided by the employer, looking for things to help prove my case. I was making my case exclusively on documents, because my former co-workers still needed their jobs, so they were not willing to help me. So, this whole thing was like a game of cat and mouse. There were a few "aha!" moments, but, not many. The other exciting part was in taking the sworn statements (Depositions) of the key players on the Employers side, figuring out how to phrase questions and introduce evidence to trip them up so they would tell the truth .

After finishing this case, I helped the attorney with several other cases, mostly concerning Civil Rights and Criminal Defense. Again, it consisted of a lot of Document Review, trying to show the inaccuracies and inconsistencies in police reports, etc. Many lawyers flat out hate document review! Getting it to all come together is challenging and exciting. But yes, it is a long, slow road in getting there. Also, depending on the type of law, very few cases go to trial. So it is by doing this digging that you will know exactly how strong, or weak, your client's position is, which will allow you to negotiate for the best deal for your client.

There are of course many other types of law, such as Contracts, Probate, etc. This was just an overview of Litigation and Criminal Law. Hope it helps!

Kim

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Jung Hwa’s Answer

Great question. I agree that it really depends on what kind of law you practice and what lights you up. Many people go to law school not thinking about what kind of law they'd want to practice -- and I know you'll ask, how the heck are you supposed to know that before law school, right?! So, I'd suggest making sure you pursue numerous, short-term internships in different types of law offices (e.g., an environmental law nonprofit, a small immigration law office, a big law firm) so that you at least have a few ideas about what gets you interested and excited, what kind of work makes you feel fulfilled, what kind of work environments you enjoy -- conversely, you may figure out early on what you absolutely HATE, which is great to figure out early because it will save you a lot of time/grief later.

At law firms, you typically only get access to "exciting" work by first proving that you're an incredibly hard worker and making yourself indispensable to the supervising attorneys whose work you find interesting. Make sure those supervising attorneys know you will consistently approach every task, no matter how menial, with a great attitude and work ethic. As you build up that goodwill, ask some of those attorneys to coffee or lunch and try to learn about their work and figure out what may be most exciting to you -- let them know that you'd love to help them on something like case X or assignment Y, should the opportunity arise. Finally, be an authentic person that others WANT to be around because you are pleasant, kind, etc. Sometimes, young attorneys think they need to look like they know it all or get really insecure for various reasons -- it's ok not to know all the answers (no one does). You just need to be honest about that and be willing to learn. Sounds so simple, but it goes a long way.

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Richard’s Answer

My wife is a bankruptcy attorney. From what she tells me, it depends what kind of lawyer you wish to be. Some appellate attorneys spend a lot of time researching and writing briefs (arguments to the Court). Others are trial attorneys and enjoy speaking in front of others. There are so many different kinds of specialties of lawyers. If you find your niche, you learn that one area. Choose the field that suits you best so you will be happy going to work every day.

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Ching’s Answer

What is "exciting" is very subjective and depends on what fuels your interest. But whichever law you practice in, there will always be alot of paperwork. Like Jung Hwa suggested, try and seek internships with as many law practices as possible to see what you enjoy. Once you find that, the "excitement" comes naturally. Keep an open mind and good luck!

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Fiona’s Answer

I am a banking and finance lawyer, not a court lawyer, so what I do is not what you see on TV. The work is largely documentation, but is highly challenging and stressful. I don’t find it boring given it is very challenging but it does take patience. If you are studying law, I would suggest you try out some internships in different areas to see if it is for you.

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