T Nation

What's It Like to Be a Lawyer?


#1

I know we got a few of you out there. I probably should have posted this way before, as I am already in the process of applications to law school, but hey, better late than never.

To those of you who are in the legal community, could you give me a little insight into the life of a lawyer? I've heard all sorts of stories, many saying they've had a great time and wouldn't change a thing, many saying its a soul sucking, life crushing mistake. I suppose I'm mostly interested in what you enjoy about your job, what you dislike, your thoughts on the system, and what kind of person you think is suited for law.


#2

You've got to like learninng new things and love a challenge. Law school is really not geared to practice, it's more about teaching you a certain way of thinking about things. They are trying to teach you to think critically and analytically in the hopes that you can teach yourself the law later. My 2 schools did not teach a lot of substantive law.

If the thought of moving to a strange town and learning something new sounds cool you may like it. If you need a comfort zone and familiarity this may not be the place for you.


#3

70% boredom, 28% fun, 2% sheer panic. The first year out of law school is 100% sheer panic.

I used to do general practice, including litigation. I hated litigation - the scorched earth results were never very satisfying. I now do local government and real estate development, which is a lot more constructive and (to me) interesting.

I do a lot of contract drafting, negotiation with cities and counties, and answering general "what the hell am I supposed to do now" kind of questions for clients. I might be in court eight hours out of the year. My practice area is narrow enough that not many people understand what it is that I do, and think I can help them with stuff like DUIs and divorces, hehe. Yeah, no thanks!

I got into law because I wanted to read, write, and edit for a living and didn't want to deal with bad manuscripts (not knowing how awful opposing counsel can be!).

If I had stayed at my first firm, which was a very unhealthy, unethical, evil place, I would hate practicing law and would probably end up being a librarian or a bum. I love my current firm, although the economy is stinking for my practice right now. The quality of a firm and your coworkers directly affects your happiness. Keep a close eye on turnover!

I am at a medium sized firm with 22 attorneys, up from a small firm with four. At a small firm, you get a lot of good solid experience, but you are also the first fat to be cut if times are slow, and if you have trouble with one person, you have trouble with them all. I bill 1800 a year/150 a month which is generally very easy to do with 6 to 10 hour days.

Things that make you a good lawyer:
Diligence
Write well
Self-sufficient

Things that make you a good BIGLAW lawyer:
Team player
Politician

Things that make you a bad lawyer:
Thinking you'll get rich from it


#4

I have 6 friends that have graduated law school recently. 2 love their jobs, 4 are looking at going into a different field.

Check out the Law School: Is It Really What You Want? thread on Max Tucker's forum.

PM me if you can't find it using Google.


#5

Law school teaches you to think and write like other lawyers who have gone before you. It also gives you a grounding in the basics of law.

Just because you have a law degree and passed the bar, doesn't mean you need to practice law. I never have. I've always worked for corporations, sometimes in the legal department, sometimes not. Currently I work in reinsurance analyzing contracts and determining the viability of reinsurance claims. I also negotiate resolutions of disputed claims. I rarely work over 50 hours a week, dress casually and don't have anyone breathing down my neck about client development or billable hours. As far as money, I'm in the top 5% in my area.


#6

I think you meant "Tucker Max"

Also while your there check out his "Tucker Max Tries Butt Sex" thread. Funniest stuff I read in a while


#7

Thanks for the replies. If I am fortunate enough to get into law school, I will keep your advice in mind.


#8

you know , lawyers really get a bad rap . I , unfortubately , have had to use the services of a lawyer several times ; and I can honestly say I've never had a bad experience with them .

actually , most of the time after the issue was over , I felt like I learned something.

I hired an attorney to walk me thru the process of buying my house . most folks would say I was stupid . money well spent in my opinion.

hi-jack over


#9

These threads are always so stupid.

You've applied to law school and have every intention on going, even though you have no idea what it's like to be a lawyer. That's completely moronic.

I would give lots words of caution, but there's no point. Nothing anyone says will change your mind.

Another clueless kid who can't figure out what he wants to do with his life, but doesn't want to work, so he goes to law school without a clue.

Good luck. Because in this legal job market, you're going to need a lot of it.


#10

Having been involved with lawyers and the courts several times, I now agree with Shakespear's statement on the subject: "The first thing we must do is kill all the lawyers."


#11

2 words. Fuck off. You have something constructive to say? I'm listening. If not, there's a donkey show somewhere in Tijuana that misses you.


#12

On second thought, I realize I might have been a little harsh, given that you know nothing about me, and can be expected to make generalizations. However, it's still pretty bogus that you would make such generalizations.

I am an econ major. I had an epiphany 2 years ago when I got knocked out in bjj practice. I had been reading a lot of philosophy for class at the time, and was strongly influenced by Rawls, Aristotle and Epicurus. Upon awakening I realized that I hadn't done much with my life, I'd largely been coasting by on natural talent. Natural talent is like a lottery, how much you get is random, and it is justice to be judged on what we do with that talent (this is Rawls speaking). I overhauled my life at that point, and tried to make the most of my talents by changing my habits (Aristotle).

Anyway, I had a late start in my academic career, and although I am a gifted economist (for an undergrad) by dint of hard work and the aforementioned natural talent, my foundation is shaky. I looked into doing something with my econ degree, and I actually have several options, ranging from grad school (I'm a shoe-in at my current institution, don't need to take any tests, they'll just take me in) to jobs in the government, to the finance industry (although this option is not as viable anymore).

I decided to also explore the option of law school, influenced partly I'll admit because I am an avid Boston Legal fan. After my initial exploration, I thought I would be a decent fit, as I have a knack for understanding the components/implications of an argument, am no stranger to reading large texts, and my econ background. I did a cost/benefit analysis and decided law school was my best bet. I quit my part time job as a waiter/bartender to study for the LSAT, and did phenomenally well, with a 174. I have a good chance at t14, and am positive I have at least t20. I am still in school btw, I graduate after this semester ends.

I have much less knowledge than I would like as to what I am getting into. However, I am pretty sure it is the best bet I have. I am not doing it to avoid work, or the real world as my other options are certainly viable, and attractive. I started this thread in an attempt to remedy the knowledge issue.

So, that is a condensed version of my story. If you still think I'm a complete moron for going and have reasons why, then I will gladly listen. I understand that a lot of people are drawn in by the prestige and glamor, when the reality is that there are very few people who get jobs involving that, and even less who are satisfied with it. Knowing that, I am still willing to bet on myself.


#13

The reason to kill the lawyers was to allow for rebellion, anarchy, the loss of individual rights, and the abuse of due process. Way to quote without thinking about the context, sirrah!


#14

http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/music_movies_girls_life/breathalyzer_test_ruled_inadmissible

It looks like atleast some of your contact with the legal system has been within the context of being a criminal defendant. It also looks like you've gotten a good result atleast twice.

OP,
Please make note. You will have some clients like this, and not just in criminal law. You will get positive results from them, yet they don't appreciate it.


#16

That goes for just about any profession.


#17

Your economics background will do you well. There is a strong economics component to current legal analysis.

http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/LawandEconomics.html


#18

He may be harsh, but he is also a lawyer.

I agree with him that you need to find out more about the profession you are going into as a general premise, but I disagree with Calilaw that not doing so will automatically result in failure. I didn't even know any dentists personally before I went to school for it. I had no clue what to expect and yes, that made it more difficult than those who had family members who were doctors and basically grew up around it.

I know that law isn't like medical professions. I only know it second hand because a girl I used to date was in law school while I was in dental school, so because of the stress of the job, knowing if it is for you in detail before you begin may be paramount to your success.


#19

Damn your education!

Ruin a good quote like that.


#20

Call up 5-10 lawyers from various fields, different age/experience levels, get a good cross section, and ask them to lunch. The law itself is huge, there are a lot of things going on. The guys w/ good grades from the bigger schools are going to have a different reality from someone w/ a 2.5 in the night program at the nearby tier 4 school. A lot of the newer lawers who maybe haven't found their niche are going to have a different perspective than those who have found a good niche.

Most are very busy but generally like to talk. I've just started to hang my shingle. I've found several other solo practicioners who have been willing to help.


#21

Thanks for the link. I've been looking into law and economics as its own field, but I believe that I need at the very least a Master's in Econ before I can specialize in that. However it is good to know that I will be putting my degree to good use.