17 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Lawyer

Movies have distorted reality a bit when it comes to legal drama. I mean, who wouldn’t want to become a lawyer after seeing Elle Woods completely trash her speech at trial to prove the defendant’s innocence (while she was showing off her ex in the process)?

Practicing irl law is a lot less juicy and a lot more nuanced (and first-year law students would never be allowed to cross-examine a witness on the stand). Some attorneys may never see the inside of a courtroom in the first place, and discerning what type of law suits you is a more complex process.

Whether you’re applying to law school, trying to pass the bar exam, or just getting a job at a law firm, you need to know what’s coming your way. attorneys amanda devereux, rachel rodgers and jamie* share what life has been like after law school and how it differs from their original expectations.

1. She may have recently graduated from law school, but she hasn’t seen anything yet.

Law school doesn’t really teach you how to practice law,” Devereux says. Turns out you have a lot to learn. “At first, it can seem like almost every time you’re given a task, it’s something you’ve never done before,” she adds. But don’t worry, eventually, with more practice (pun intended), you’ll master the skill set and type of law you’re practicing. “Anxiety should subside after a couple of years when you’ve developed a decent skill base,” Devereux says.

2. cannot pass the bar on the first try.

The bar exam wasn’t exactly designed with everyone in mind. “Here’s the thing. The bar exam, like most academic exams in our country, was first developed by powerful, wealthy white men (also known as the patriarchy) who wanted to retain their power,” he says. rodgers. Although the exam and its policies have changed slightly over the years, it will still be a challenge to pass.

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“If you don’t pass the bar exam on your first try, you’re in good company. So did Michelle Obama. So did Hilary Clinton,” says Rodgers. “you can persist”. His best tips for studying include using flash cards and taping them around the house so the information sticks.

3. If you don’t attend an Ivy League law school, you can still be a great lawyer.

“You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room,” Jamie says. Sure, it’s great if you graduated from Harvard or Yale. But even if you don’t attend a top-tier school and are going to enter a competitive field like corporate law, it’s all about motivation and being a team player, she says.

4. You will get very bored if you don’t choose a practice field that suits your personality.

“I do complex commercial litigation and white collar crime defense, which I enjoy because it’s challenging and exciting when you get great results for the client,” says devereux. however, that won’t be the right move for everyone. “If public interest environmental law is your passion, you may be bored to tears practicing bankruptcy law instead,” Devereux adds. Be sure to look into different types of law (internships are great opportunities for that!) before deciding on a field.

5. certain types of law will be more flexible than others.

If you’re prone to wanderlust or just don’t want to be tied to one city, one option is intellectual property law, such as the rodgers practices. You’ll be up against trademarks, patents, copyrights, and the like to protect creative works, like songs, books, or technology, he explains. and can allow you to move or work remotely. “Because trademarks and copyrights are regulated by a federal agency, you can work with trademark and copyright clients from any state. This gives you a lot of flexibility if you don’t want to be stuck in the state you’re in.” it’s forbidden,” says rodgers

6. You probably won’t spend much time in court.

All the movies that show lawyers working only when they’re in court aren’t entirely accurate.In fact, you may never see a courtroom,” Devereux says. You’ll probably spend a lot of time alone, in an office, investigating cases and processing paperwork. “Most lawyers aren’t in court making towering speeches in front of juries every week,” says Devereux.

7. Being a lawyer means being a writer.

Just when you thought your law school papers were done, that’s not the case. “I’m a litigator, which can be a bit like writing a term paper every night for the rest of your life,” Devereux says. but no matter what area you practice in, writing will definitely be part of the job. that could include summaries, memos, contracts, letters and even emails, she adds. “So brush up on your writing skills, especially after law school, because communicating clearly and effectively is the biggest part of the job,” Devereux says.

8. don’t expect to become a partner early in your career.

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It’s not easy to become a partner (or become a co-owner of a business instead of an employee), even if you’re a top performer. “In my experience, most of the people I worked with didn’t become partners,” Jamie says. Often, it’s worth leaving and going to another company to get to that level, she admits.

9. you won’t always be able to find a clear answer for every case.

Often, cases are much more than “right vs. wrong” as seen in legal shows. “Legal problems can be very complex, and the solutions are not always simple. Finding an answer can require a great deal of analysis, research, discussion, and deep thought,” says Devereux. it’s up to you to flex your critical-thinking muscles, he adds, and embrace uncertainty.

10. you should definitely be taking notes.

Your memory isn’t infallible. I didn’t take a lot of notes in college or law school, but as a lawyer, I take notes on everything, whether it’s a five-minute conference call or a one-day meeting,” says devereux. and you’ll have to multitask between cases and come back to them even months later, so take notes on your phone, at the very least. “It’s hard to remember every important detail when juggling multiple issues, and sometimes an issue resurfaces months or even years after it last seemed relevant,” Devereux adds.

11. you’ll probably be on your phone a lot.

Attorneys work long hours and clients can have issues that need their attention at any time, whether it’s a weekend, holiday or vacation. And thanks to technology, you can and are expected to respond and get work done from anywhere as quickly as humanly possible,” Devereux says. this is just a kind of reality for some types of laws. Plus, certain seasons are especially busy (for example, if you’re a tax attorney).

12. but work-life balance is what you make of it.

Corporate law involves some long nights at the office at times, like during big closings or deadlines, says Jamie, but it’s not like that all the time. “It was up to you as an associate to do your job, unless there was a reason to be late or a deadline to meet,” she says. If you decide to work in-house at a company, you may have a more flexible schedule, 9 to 5, she says, Jamie.

13. think of your work wardrobe as a uniform.

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The type of law you practice influences what you will wear to the office. however, clothing may not necessarily be your choice if you’re going on a date or other fun function. “After years of struggling with work clothes, I’ve reduced my work wardrobe to mostly black and gray skirt suits and a rotation of neutral blouses,” Devereux says. “They’re always appropriate, pretty much everything goes together, and it makes getting dressed for work pretty easy.”

14. taking care of your mental health is key.

An inside secret is that most lawyers are overworked, burnt out, and don’t make as much as they could,” Rodgers says. burnout, stress, and depression are incredibly common among lawyers. make sure you take advantage of mental health days, vacation days, and sick days, and if you’re really struggling (or your colleagues are), see a mental health professional.

15. you probably won’t be rich.

“Sure, there are a lot of very wealthy lawyers, but that’s really just the top layer of the profession. Most lawyers make more solid middle-class incomes,” Devereux says. You’ll probably have a lot of student loan debt from law school, which isn’t entirely ideal when you’re just starting out in your career. “Make sure you only become a lawyer if you really want to work as a lawyer. If you become a lawyer because you think it will make you rich, you may be very disappointed, especially if you could have earned an equivalent salary in a job you would have enjoyed more,” Devereux says. .

16. you won’t have 100 percent job security.

There is unpredictability with some law firms and corporate environments, which does not guarantee you a job. “I was fired from a company right after I found out she was pregnant, as part of a big round of layoffs,” she tells Jamie. Then bad luck struck again when she was laid off again from another firm during her maternity leave due to covid-19 cutbacks. You never know what will happen, but it’s important to maintain good relationships within the industry for future opportunities.

17. it pays to start your own practice and make your own rules.

Especially if you have a ton of student loan debt and a family to support, forging your own career path can be a big career move, Rodgers says. she was ahead of the coronavirus wfh curve when she started her own virtual law practice 10 years ago, working. Without the overhead of an office building and with the help of a few fellow attorneys, she was able to fill a niche and grow her practice by operating through virtual meetings, phone calls and emails. “dare to do things differently,” says rodgers.

*last name withheld to protect privacy.

Content Creator Zaid Butt joined Silsala-e-Azeemia in 2004 as student of spirituality. Mr. Zahid Butt is an IT professional, his expertise include “Web/Graphic Designer, GUI, Visualizer and Web Developer” PH: +92-3217244554

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