Becoming a lawyer means steady employment and a good income. Some attorneys even get to make a positive difference for their clients. Its reasons like these that lead people to consider law school, but they often don’t know what the day-to-day job is like. Here are four things you should know about being an attorney.
Following Your Passion Doesn’t Always Pay
Idealistic people enroll in law school with the hope of saving the environment or accomplishing other altruistic goals. Disappointing reality begins to settle in as they realize that jobs like these are rare, and when they are found they barely pay enough to cover student loan payments. It’s important to understand that you may be forced to work as a corporate attorney just to pay your bills.
Achieving Work/Life Balance is Rare
Regardless of which area of law they practice in attorneys spend most of their time working. Evenings, weekends and holidays may all be spent with your nose to the grindstone. A 40-hour workweek is a rarity, and you may be required to travel.
The Learning Never Stops
New lawyers who just passed the bar exam are only beginning their education. Law school doesn’t really teach individuals how to practice their profession. That process begins with summer internships and first jobs. Most new attorneys are mentored by experienced partners or associates while they learn the ropes. Even after years of practice the learning continues. Laws change frequently, and many of those changes may affect your day-to-day practice. You’ll spend a good portion of your time keeping up to date with these changes. Professionals, like personal injury attorneys, are also required to fulfill certain continuing education courses throughout their career, which helps them keep abreast of these changes as well.
It’s Important to Know Business
Many people enroll in law school with the vision of being able to be their own boss when they start a firm. It’s a wonderful aspiration, but it’s not for everyone. If you are determined to put out your shingle as a solo practitioner or the founder of a firm, you’ll have to know not only the law, but also business. A lack of business acumen has sunk more than one firm. You’ll have to learn how to attract new clients and how to balance the books.
Being an attorney can be exceptionally rewarding. However, it’s important to be prepared for the hard work that goes with making a success of the endeavor. So make sure it is the right vocation for you by becoming acquainted with the ins-and-outs of a lawyer’s everyday life.