Making the decision to attend law school is an extremely important decision that will impact the rest of your life. This decision will impact you mentally, emotionally and financially and therefore great care and research must be taken before making your ultimate decision of whether to attend or not. Some people claim that they knew from a very young age that they wanted to be lawyer, however most will say they struggled with the decision up until the time they decided to attend law school. Even throughout law school and post law school many people will wonder if they made the right decision. In order to assist you in your decision of whether law school is the right move for you, I have compiled a series of questions to ask yourself and seriously think about before making your decision in order to help you decide if attending law school is the right decision for you.
Generally, speaking it is impossible to know the true answer to whether you truly want to be a lawyer. Before attending law school there is some value to working with practicing lawyers and attorneys, attending law school classes, attending civil and criminal trials or even working as an assistant at a law firm. The value of these experiences will give you a true insight into what actual lawyer's and attorney's do, however because you are not truly immersed in the profession it will give you a superficial overview and will most likely highlight the excitement and place less stress on the difficulty and demands of the job. This example is best found in television shows where the art of superficiality is perfected. Please do not determine that you want to be an Attorney because of Boston Legal or Allie McBeal.
Your decision making process is often varied on a day by day basis because there is no "typical lawyer." The profession of law in today's world has diversified into many different specializations and types of lawyers. Within each niche, there are significant differences in hours, compensation, quality of life, workload, work environment and quality of life. All of these factors vary depending on whether you are practicing criminal law, trusts and estates law, family law, business law, environmental law, entertainment law, civil rights law, tax law, business transactions and litigation, or any of the other various specialties. Additionally, there are numerous professions within each specific niche of the law.
Therefore, from experience and user comments and remarks, the only meaningful and true way to determine whether you want to be a lawyer is to carefully examine the type of skills that a person necessarily must develop and then become proficient at those skills as a competent lawyer in your chosen area. Despite the significant variation in the diverse practice areas, the basic and essential skills demanded of all lawyers are very similar.
Ask yourself the following questions and take time in order to respond:
The practice of law is and will always be a "people business." Successful attorney's, generally speaking do not simply work on cases or research complex and interesting legal issues. An attorney makes his / her living by assisting people who have sought the attorney for help and advice regarding criminal, personal or business related matters. Once the attorney has been approached by the client, the client has decided that he / she cannot adequately solve this problem on his / her own, therefore he / she seeks your assistance. For nearly all cases the client knows that it will be necessary to state very private and personal facts to the lawyer, therefore created a confidential, personal and fiduciary relationship between lawyer and client. Once the client has contacted you, the lawyer regarding the problem, the client will perceive the problem to be a business or personal crisis. An Attorney must enjoy working day to day with people on the phone and in person. The Lawyer must derive satisfaction and fulfillment from assisting people work through threatening, difficult and significant events in the individual's lives.
The main objective of a lawyer is to solve a client's issue or problem. Individuals of all walks of life seek the lawyer to assist them in solving their problems. An attorney must be able to fully understand and empathize with the client in order to fully and properly understand the concerns and needs of the client. However the lawyer must remain objective and must utilize sound analytical skills to identify all potential legal issues that arise from the interaction and then professionally formulate a plan to reach the end result that is desired by the client. This result however must remain consistent with the requirements of the law as well.
Our society is extremely complex and this complexity has demanded the development of a vast array of diverse laws and civil claims in all fields. With the proliferation of laws, comes the understandable consequence that most clients will be wholly uninformed about the existing laws and / or have drastic misunderstandings of what the law requires and prohibits. A lawyer must be able to effectively educate his or her clients. This teaching requirement is further complicated by the fact that the client or student to you has a direct and sometimes volatile direct interest in the subject area and outcome. The degree of full understanding will also be significantly affected by the client's vested interest, a strong disagreement about the goals of the law, an unwillingness to hear and understand bad news, etc. The constant need to educate is critical, in order to enable a client with the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision on how to proceed. Therefore this task can be extremely tough.
Two necessary skills of a lawyer are the ability to write and speak in an articulate and clear manner. Remember, a lawyer's job is to effectively solve problems. The key to a lawyer's success is the effective ability to persuade or convince others of the correctness of the lawyer's analysis of the factual problem combined with the requirements of the law and ultimately the best result that can be reached for all concerned parties. A lawyer must be able to convince and educate a wide variety of people including his or her clients, other layers, judges, juries, mediators and arbitrators. In order to achieve this task, it is of paramount importance that the lawyer can speak and write clearly and persuasively. You may be a child prodigy, however if others are not effectively convinced and persuaded by your verbal and / or written skills, then you will not be effective. The art and skill of convincing verbal or written communication is essential to becoming a successful lawyer.
A lawyer's individual personal satisfaction must come from assisting others achieve a desired goal, result or effectively avoid the potential consequences of a difficult situation. A lawyer must effectively provide the client with solid information concerning all possible alternatives in order to allow his / her client to make an informed decision. Ultimately, the client makes all final decisions in what is the best interests of the client. YOU WORK FOR YOUR CLIENTS. (Please see my blog on the Top Ten Reasons Not To Go To Law School as well as his is number 1.) Therefore, the lawyer must be able to advance and accept the client's ultimate decision, even if the lawyer would not have made the same decision personally. Of course, an attorney is bound by the ethical parameters of the law and their are protections in place to ensure this. Examining this in practice whether an attorney is negotiating a contract, writing a will, settling a divorce, or litigating a contentions lawsuit, a lawyer is advancing the personal needs, goals and desires of the client. Therefore, the lawyer should not be ostentatious or overreaching, however simply capable of effectively and persuasively articulating concrete arguments.
The daily practice of law is often described as a jungle filled with traps for the lazy and sloppy, less detailed lawyer. The legal process continues to make exceptional advancements in removing unnecessary requirements of form and function in order to allow cases to be resolved on the merits of the issue rather than an individual's poor ability to effectively follow the rules of procedure. Despite this fact, the rules of practice, form and procedure are essential for the customary conduct of business in the legal field. A lawyer must pay meticulous attention to detail and facts, because detailed work is a necessary aspect to the practice of law.
From the moment a future lawyer enters law school until the day an esteemed lawyer retires, he / she will never stop reading the law. The law is an amorphous, constantly changing structure, that a lawyer is required to know. Whether it be agency rules and regulations, statues, court decisions or legal briefs, the law never remains constant or static. Every lawyer must dedicate a significant amount of time on a regular basis to proper education of the law. This extra study time is often added on top of the many hours spent in the law library perfecting legal research on niche and specific issues of law pertaining to your case and line of work.
When you reviewed your questions and my commentary, however many did you enthusiastically respond yes to? How many questions do you think to yourself, "I could do that." In order to be a truly successful lawyer, you must answer the majority of these questions with passion and you must have a majority of the skills mentioned.
Sensationalized television dramas depicting attorneys do have their valid points. This being, the practice of law can be meaningful, exciting and rewarding. It is rare to have a profession that on a daily basis you significantly impact the lives of a wide variety of people. The practice of law continues to be a broadening and educational experience. Therefore, it is not for the lethargic and lazy or the individual who expects set 8 hour days. This profession is demanding, seemingly never ending and constantly changing life experience. Think about your decision deeply and talk about it with family and friends before finalizing your ultimate decision. Then come here and share your stories in the comments so others can learn from you.
Also See The Top Ten (10) Reasons Not To Go To Law School: