Hi, I just wanted to know how it is to be a lawyer? When studying and once you've already graduated. How is the whole experience?
I've been thinking a lot about becoming a lawyer since I want to help people get the justice they deserve. I can be very disciplined and dedicated if I actually want to do something and I wanted to know how it would be to actually be a lawyer, and if it would be the right choice.
Law school is expensive, but the financial rewards are there to support the investment. Areas of law like Personal Injury, Corporate, Insurance, Commercial Litigation, Real Estate, and Intellectual Property are all lucrative areas of practice. Public interest law like working for a non-profit or a public defender pay substantially less. Your daily work will be quite different if you pursue criminal law vs. corporate law.
Helping people to get the justice people deserve is very broad, but given the current environment, I infer that you're most likely interested in helping those who do not have the resources to hire better representation. There are a number of ways to go about getting into this line of work; one is that when you obtain your law degree and are licensed to practice, you sign up to be a public defender. Public defenders typically have very heavy work loads so you can expect to work long hours. Moreover, the law can be complex and getting the needed details to defend someone effectively can take time.
Another approach to helping people to get justice is to work for a company that supports their legal team members to do pro bono (i.e. free) work on the company's time. Many--mostly large companies--allow this as this is how they as a company show their commitment to social justice.
My recommendation to you is to ask your teachers if they know of anyone who is in the legal field and then set up time to ask the some questions. By taking in a number of perspectives, you can begin to hone in on the path that you want to take.
Lastly, the time--4+ years undergraduate plus 2 to 3 years of law school--and money to get a law degree is substantial. Before you make an investment in this area of study, you'll certainly want to do as much research as possible. Realize, unless you or your family can pay for this education, you will likely have substantial debt that will take, more than likely, a lot of time to repay. If you aren't rewarded--whether it's satisfaction in the job and/or being paid well--substantially enough to offset the cost, it will be quite a quick path to becoming a bitter and resentful person.
I've included some links below that may give you more information.
Best wishes to you as you progress on your journey through life!
Cindie recommends the following next steps:
The truth is that it takes a lot of time, hard work and probably money to get there. After you finish four years of college and three years of law school, you will sit for a "bar exam" in at least one state. These exams are given in February and July and in most states take two full days to complete (6 hours per day of testing). Some states like NY have a three day exam.
When you pass the bar, you are licensed to practice law in that state. But really, you are now just at the very beginning of what it takes to become a good lawyer.
Law schools teach you the law. Working will teach you to become a lawyer. And it will take many years of doing it until you feel like you really know what you are doing.
The rewards can be great. It is greatly satisfying knowing that you are working to help people.
Regarding the cost of going to law school. I have always believed that the most important investment you can make is in yourself. You can make decent money as a lawyer but the cost of college and law school tuition can feel prohibitive. Do not let this discourage you. Find the scholarships, go to state schools, go at night and work during the day, whatever. Try to finish school with as little debt as you can, but also take the long view. On average, your earning potential will be far greater with a law degree.
Eric recommends the following next steps:
There are many kinds of lawyers and many paths to arrive there.
I would suggest exploring all you can to learn about the kinds of law you're curious about. Civil or criminal? Would you prefer to be an advocate for individuals, businesses, or governments?
Whatever your interest, the common thread for all attorneys is they must pass a bar exam.
There are a variety of skills needed to be a successful attorney.
Writing, editing, organizing, and research skills are key. Preparation of a case can be very involved.
I considered getting a law degree. My high school counselor arranged for me to attend a deposition and to meet an attorney.
At my university, I joined a pre-law club and even took a Practice Law School Admissions Exam.
Good luck with your explorations!
David recommends the following next steps: