Courtroom Careers Lawyers

Maybe everyone has some kind of preconception about lawyers, but most attorneys at law really do have fascinating jobs. They accept or are assigned to clients, and then have to use all of their creative and logical skills to come up with a convincing argument on their client’s behalf. Attorneys can defend people in criminal court, they can represent corporations, they can sue corporations on behalf of those who feel wronged by them, they can handle divorces-basically, any dispute that could erupt between two parties is a dispute which lawyers can become involved in.

Being a lawyer isn’t as glamorous as you see on television dramas. Many lawyers work for sixteen or eighteen hours a day, poring through legal records and documents pertaining to a case, searching for anything that might give them an edge in court. Life is especially hard for those who have just passed the bar exam, because competition for positions at many law firms can be incredible. Not only that, but many new lawyers are given the most legwork and the most labor-intensive research to do when they finally do get a job at a firm. Many attorneys jump around from law firm to law firm before they find a place where they really feel happy working. And a good percentage of law school graduates spend ten years or more trying to find a job; some never end up working as an attorney.

To become a lawyer, you have to have a strong work ethic and be able to get along with people; you’ll be collaborating a lot with colleagues and with clients. You also have to be tough, almost fearless. Lawyers have to stand up for their client no matter what popular opinion may believe, and they have to be tough on their opponents. As such, many lawyers make bitter and lasting enemies. In order to be admitted to the bar (that is, pass the bar exam) you pretty much have to go to a law school that the American Bar Association has granted accreditation to. And the only real way to get into law school is to achieve a good academic record as an undergraduate. Not every college or university offers a pre-law major, either. If you can’t major in pre-law it’s often a good idea as an undergraduate to major in a field that requires a lot of reading and writing, and a healthy application of logic, like English or philosophy.

The bar exam is a written test that takes two days to complete. Each state administers its own bar exam, and you’ll have to know the laws of your state inside and out in order to pass. Some states also include an oral section with their bar exam.

Many lawyers remain attorneys for their entire careers. But being a lawyer can also be good training for other professions. Some lawyers serve as judges later in their careers; others run for public office or become professors at law schools.