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How can I make it as a lawyer?

I am a law student and want to be one of the best lawyers in the world( A judge in the long run) #lawyer

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Subject: Career question for you


3 answers

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DENNIS’s Answer

Hi Simon: First, be true to yourself. Follow your own passions and own ideas. Second, keep up on the law. Law changes constantly so stay on top of it. Third take on cases and causes YOU care about. Always remember, the best advocates are those whose heart is in the fight. It's ok to lose those fight once in a while but take any loss with dignity and grace and be ready to regroup and rethink your position. Being a great lawyer is one where you are always learning, always changing, always challenging yourself. Go for it! Good luck.
Thank you comment icon Thank you very much. I appreciate the enlightenment. Simon
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Desiree’s Answer

Simon, I admire your ambition and your lofty goal. A few traits make for especially good lawyers (in my observation):
(1) the ability to truly listen - you need to understand what the issues are and not jump to any presumptions. To me, this is also linked to good client counseling skills;
(2) have a quick, analytical mind - once you grasp the issues, you need to issue-spot, synthesize the law, and apply it to the situation. If you're looking to be a judge, you need to be able to do that in a way that makes sense for the current situation and consider its broader impact as precedent for future cases, drafting your opinions carefully to avoid unintended consequences. There are lawyers I deeply respect with deep subject matter expertise stored in their brains like a whole law library - not rote memorization, but true understanding. They live and breath their specialties - and not just from a legal prospective, but the real-world/technical/pragmatic issues behind that area of expertise. On the other hand, judges generally have to apply lots of different specialties to their rulings. I am always impressed with those judges who - with the help of their clerks! - dive deep in the various specialties and seem to be a master of all.
(3) wonderful written communication abilities - your written work product will be an everlasting trail. Having a gift for the written word, that allows others to understand you clearly and with impactful is critical. I always enjoy those rulings where the judge injects quotes from literature or pop culture or humor because it reminds us all that the law doesn't happen in a vacuum.
(4) a strong moral compass - there is no way around it, you need to be moral and ethical in all your dealings. Do not sell your soul (or your license to practice law!) to any client, no matter how big/rich the company or how powerful (even presidential!) the person.
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Lené’s Answer

Hi Simon,

That is a lot of ambition you have there. If you indeed want to become a judge in your lifetime you will have to start by pursuing a career as an advocate not an attorney. Over many years you will eventually become a senior advocate, colloquially referred to as a silk and may be asked to become an acting judge. If you perform your duties well as an acting judge you may be asked to join the bench and become a full time judge. This process is not generally that of an attorney so if you start out as an attorney instead, you will have to ultimately join the bar of advocates to become a judge.

Some pointers:

1. Study hard. You are more likely to succeed in your career if you get a lot of opportunities early on and you are more likely to get opportunities if you for example graduate cum laude. Its not everything but it will help. Everyone has a degree, you need to show that you performed exceptionally well at a distinguished university.

2. Read, a lot and not just about law. Being a legal practitioner, especially an advocate involves a lot of both reading and writing. You want to read as much as you can to widen your field of knowledge. Good starting books are Thinking fast and slow and Start with Why.

3. Learn to network and work well with people. Whereas the first key to a successful career is being a good legal practitioner (legal knowledge, strategic and analytical thinking etc) the second is networking. Networking is one of the main ways of finding clients and you will need clients. Advocates are essentially sole practitioners. They work by themselves and pay for all their expenses themselves, unlike attorneys who work for law firms. So in short you need clients who can give you work and pay you for that work. This is true for attorneys too.

4. Find mentors. Find mentors who have accomplished what you want to accomplish or are on their way to that and learn from them how they did it. So a good start would be an esteemed junior advocate, then a silk and then, if you are lucky, perhaps a judge.