Any attorneys here? Starting law school and have a question!

I have heard from multiple places that law is an inherently high paying, high stress, high hours-per-week profession. Is this the case? I ask because while I am interested greatly in law as a profession, I have never been the kind of person who wants to spend too much more than 40hours a week in the office. Now, don’t get me wrong - I am a very hard worker, I do good work, and I don’t mess around. But I don’t want to spend 60 hours a week working. I want to have plenty of time to spend with my friends and family. Now I realize that I will have to work a heavy week SOMETIMES, such as when there is a big case going down - I’m just talking about the “average week” here.

I was hoping that the area of law I’m interested in (prosecution), being that it is a government position, would pay less but also be less stressful - but it seems perhaps this is not the case?

Can someone shed some light on this for me, because I increasingly worry I may have made the wrong choice here if all these people and articles are right…

My brother is a commonwealth attorney (similar to a DA; county felony prosecutor).

I’ll be happy to shed some info. That is, when I get back from the beach! :slight_smile:

Drop me a pm and I’ll re: in a couple of weeks.

BTW, future blood sucker here too.

Go for it. I like being a lawyer. There are plenty of legal jobs out there that won’t kill you with hours - they just don’t pay as much as the larger firms. I’m not sure about the lifestyle of a prosecutor though. I’m on the corporate side.

im not saying its impossible - but i dont know any attorneys who work 40hr weeks, come to think of it i dont know anybody in New York city who works less than 60 hrs per week…if you plan on being a prosecutor, plan on working long hours and making little money…oh yeah, and plan on working wknds, holidays and night shifts your first few years…if you really dont want to work long hours, consider maybe working in the legal dept for a large corporation or maybe a non-profit

Not an attorney yet, just got done taking the bar exam, but I went to law school and will be starting at a big firm in the fall. Here’s my take on the whole working hard as a lawyer thing for what it’s worth.

I too went into law school with the idea that I didn’t want to work hard, that 40 hours a week, maybe 50 would be my absolute max. Now I’m hoping that my weeks average out at 60 hours or so. For some reason, most law jobs require a lot of hours – even those in government positions. I don’t know personally, but I imagine that prosecutors that are in a big trial work pretty much around the clock. When they’re not, they’re schedules are probably more relaxed. A buddy of mine worked for the San Jose DA’s office over the summer and he said that some attorneys there worked very hard and some not so much. In some respects, it really depends on what you make out of it.

Another thing to consider is that you won’t be just making a little less money, you’ll be making a lot less money. Biglaw starts new associates at 125k, most assistant DAs probably make about 40-45k at best. Graduating from college 40-45k sounded like a lot of money. Three years and lots of loans later, it doens’t sound like a whole lot. Especially since you’re giving up the opportunity cost of money that you would be making and career advancement in the three years that you’d spend in law school.

On top of that, applications to law schools are at an all-high because the economy sucks. Many of my friends, at a top 15 school, who did okay are unemployed right now. They’ll probably find jobs but it may not be doing what they want. Debt and no job, even one at 45k, is not a good combination.

With all that said, if law is something that you really want to do, go for it. Despite everything that I know now I would probably still go to law school if I had it to do all over again. But then again, I was one of the lucky ones that did well and landed a job that will allow me to pay my loans and still live comfortably. Unfortunately, I will have to work pretty hard for that salary (too bad the world works that way, isn’t it).

Ultimately, the profession is whatever you make out of it and even if you end up working very hard in a DA’s office the work will be pretty interesting – certainly more so than the document review that I’ll surely be doing.

Thanks everyone for all the replies. I talked to my father who is a lawyer for a long while on this subject, and he shed some light on it. He said that while it is common to have to work long hours and that everyone will have to from time to time, there are career paths (government offices other than the DAs, such as federal attorneys dealing with environmental issues or corporate in-house counsel) which are less stressful.

He also said the decision to go to law school is not life or death, and if I decide in the end I dont want to be a lawyer, the degree is still highly useful and even if I end up hating it and stop early, the experience is still useful. So given those thoughts my plan is to go the first semester / year at least and see how I like it.

where are you going to law school?

As a criminal defense lawyer I would have a heart attack if I was able to reach one of the DAs after 5:00.

Go be a DA or a Public Defender. The hours are good and the work is easy but the pay reflects that. If you want cases and issues that are a little more complex go for a US Attorney’s job or the federal public defender’s office. If you want to make a difference and can handle the pressure, go for a job with the death penalty unit of the public defender’s office.

All of those will assure you a 40 hour week with the occaisional 50 hour week and, very rarely, a 60 hour week. You’ll also get 4 weeks vacation, automatic pay raises, free office space, a free secretary, office supplies, etc… You’ll also get in on a good health plan and your retirement benefits won’t be too shabby.