A legal career is highly demanding. Unlike what we see on many TV series and commercials, a day in the life of a lawyer mainly sees them facing an uphill battle of civil litigation, document review, brainstorming, and meeting deadlines. Sometimes, these experts do not even have the time to catch up with colleagues over a cup of coffee.
Law practice is not as easy as it seems. However, when asked, “What’s it like to be a lawyer?” these professionals may present their daily routine as an adventure, tempting you to tread this career path. This article walks you through a typical day in the life of a lawyer. We’ll also be showing you what is the average salary of a lawyer and how this corresponds to a lawyer’s daily life.
What Is a Lawyer?
A lawyer is a professional licensed for actual law practice. They offer valuable services such as conducting lawsuits on behalf of their clients and offering legal advice about their clients’ rights and obligations. These legal experts shuffle between client meetings, administrative hearings, and time in courtrooms, subjecting them to an ever-busy schedule.
What Does a Lawyer Do on a Daily Basis?
Generally, a lawyer reads and researches daily because the law is not static, but dynamic. They need to be equipped with the provisions of the most current statutes to draw up accurate legal documents. Depending on which type of lawyer you become, you may also be involved in the tasks listed below.
- Drawing up legal documents. Lawyers across every stratum base their dealings on legal documents. These documents serve as tool kits for defense lawyers and the trial counsel to make their oral arguments in a courtroom. Out of court, lawyers can also draw up documents relating to divorce, real estate transactions, wills, and contracts on behalf of their clients.
- Providing legal counsel. Clients depend on legal counsel because they cannot claim ignorance to escape liability for violating the law or evading obligations imposed upon them by statutes. Lawyers aid clients by offering legal advice on these rights and responsibilities. This advice enables clients to both maximize any benefits they could claim through their rights and minimize the chances of any legal flaw in their dealings.
- Gathering evidence: In law, seeing is believing. The lawyers cannot convince the jury or judge unless facts and evidence back up their oral arguments. Hence, legal practitioners, especially trial lawyers, make it a point of duty to gather substantial evidence to secure a conviction or otherwise.
- Representing Clients: Many lawyers, like personal injury lawyers, use their communication skills to defend their clients during legal proceedings. Lawyers represent their clients during negotiations leading to settlements for tortious, or harmful, acts. Clients employ these services because they do not have the legal expertise and professionalism required to carry out these legal transactions.
- Mediating disputes: Lawyers negotiate between conflicting parties during alternative dispute resolution sessions. This out-of-court remedy avoids the rigorous formal litigation process and helps parties arrive at a consensus faster in a more casual manner.
How Can I Become a Lawyer?
You must be passionate about the law before even contemplating delving into legal career opportunities. Being committed to this career path will help you persevere through rigorous training. A law career usually requires legal education ranging from three to five years, and the following are various pathways to becoming a lawyer.
The minimum degree required to become a lawyer is a Bachelor of Law Degree or Juris Doctor. It takes about three to five years to complete this undergraduate degree. More notable firms may, in addition, require a postgraduate degree at the master’s level through a law school. This postgraduate degree takes a shorter time to obtain. However, most schools will need you to have completed a bachelor’s degree first.
Law Online Courses
The emergence of online learning has made it increasingly easy to take courses online and obtain the requisite certifications. There are various apps for lawyers to acquire and improve upon their legal knowledge. Sites such as Study.com also offer free legal classes online where prospective students can get acquainted with legal concepts and law terminologies. Most of these courses, however, do not confer college credit.
Law certifications are professional licenses and badges that you can acquire to narrow your concentration into a particular law field. They require less time to complete and are helpful for individuals who want to work as legal administrative assistants and paralegals. These qualifications include those for general legal studies, a law and technology certification, and a legal assistant certification.
81% of participants stated they felt more confident about their tech job prospects after attending a bootcamp. Get matched to a bootcamp today.
The average bootcamp grad spent less than six months in career transition, from starting a bootcamp to finding their first job.
How Can I Get a Job as a Lawyer?
A lawyer can quickly get a job in an accredited law firm or any other private practice sector to become a practice’s legal representative or in-house legal counsel. They can also work for the government as prosecutors or public defenders.
The ability to work in a representative capacity in any field is perhaps the unique advantage of being a lawyer. Since lawyers must know something about everything, thriving in the labor market shouldn’t be challenging. However, law is a competitive field, so you’ll need to be distinctive to get the best job options.
Steps to Finding a Job as a Lawyer
- Obtain the relevant qualifications
To be qualified for a job as a lawyer, you need to be certified by a bar association. This certification will require you to have met the educational requirements, such as earning a Juris Doctor degree, passing the bar examination, and undergoing a character and fitness certification. You can also go the extra mile by obtaining qualifications that might be specific to your preferred field of law or prospective organization.
- Take on internships
Law internships are great ways to improve your chances of getting employed. Many firms will consider you eligible to apply for an internship if you’ve completed at least one entire semester of legal study. While interning, you’ll support and learn from top professionals through case management, legal research, and attending client meetings. This internship will help meet the experience requirements to compete in the legal arena.
- Update your resume
You should constantly update your resume to demonstrate your knowledge of recent regulatory changes and an understanding of the industry. Avoid irrelevant information and tailor the featured details to the specific legal job you’re applying for. You should include your achievements, interests, and additional skills to highlight your uniqueness.
Lawyers deal with real people and real-life cases. The confidence and communication skills you get from networking can be applied while handling cases. More importantly, networking is an efficient means of discovering opportunities, even before advertising agencies put out these opportunities. Hence, you must value and utilize personal contacts and acquaintances you meet during your legal training or internships.
- Research and apply
A perfect opportunity to put your critical thinking skills and legal research skills to use is finding a job. You should conduct thorough research on the prospective company or industry and ensure that your credentials align with their requirements. If you’re clueless about where to apply in the first place, you can begin by searching on job boards.
- Career Karma matches you with top tech bootcamps
- Get exclusive scholarships and prep courses
What Is the Average Salary of a Lawyer?
Lawyers earn significantly more money than most other professionals. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for lawyers as of May 2020 is $126,930. This figure cuts across all areas of law. However, those who work in law firms and business establishments tend to earn higher than those who own their practice.
Salary for an Entry-level Lawyer
Although average salaries for junior lawyers vary depending on jurisdictions and employers, ZipRecruiter posits that entry-level lawyers in the United States have an average annual pay of $47,318. Regardless, you can earn more with related entry-level roles such as healthcare attorney, attorney partner, counsel attorney, and insurance attorney.
Salary for a Mid-level Lawyer
At the mid-level, a lawyer already has considerable experience and qualifications over and above the junior associates. ZipRecruiter estimates that the average annual salary for mid-level lawyers is $80,743. There will be many opportunities for advancement and increased pay, based on skill level and location.
Salary for a Senior-level Lawyer
These senior associates are at the peak of their careers and can boast of themselves as experts in any legal field they specialize in. According to ZipRecruiter, senior-level lawyers earn $107,722 on average.
As a senior partner, you can always make more by constantly sharpening your skills in the emerging areas of law such as technology. You could also move to higher-paying locations, such as lucrative locations in the state of California, like San Francisco, Fremont, or San Jose.
Job Outlook for a Lawyer
BLS projects the job outlook for lawyers to grow nine percent from 2020 to 2030, similar to that of all other occupations. Law is a profession that will remain in demand because individuals, corporate bodies, and all levels of government continuously require legal services across a variety of areas.
Should I Become a Lawyer?
The prestige and awe that characterize a lawyer are exciting factors to consider when delving into the profession. The rewards are also very appetizing, and lawyers are here to stay, making law a stable and future-proof career. While the challenges involved are limitless and the process of becoming a full-fledged lawyer is rigorous, it is undoubtedly a satisfying career if you are hardworking, love researching and debating, and possess excellent analytical skills.
A Day in the Life of a Lawyer FAQs
If you enjoy reading and researching, the idea of being buried between the pages daily will be fun and exciting to you. Otherwise, you would find it nerve-wracking and monotonous.
Yes, people often use the words “lawyer” and “attorney” interchangeably, just as “medical doctors” and “physicians.” Jurisdictions such as the US commonly use “attorney.” In contrast, the rest of the world often uses the term “lawyer.”
Yes, law is one of the most tasking and stressful professions in the world. The academic exertion imposed upon law students is meant to prepare them for the rigorous life of a lawyer. Lawyers never stop reading and researching due to the ever-changing nature of the law, and they must revel in the idea of debate and challenge.
Yes, you can become a lawyer without being particularly smart. Although the general notion is that lawyers are brilliant, if you’re determined to be diligent and hardworking, you can become a lawyer. However, you should have a retentive memory because you must memorize a lot to pass your bar examinations.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.