Becoming an attorney is an exciting and noble goal. Depending on what area of law you decide to practice, the profession generally pays well and you get to put that cool “esquire” after your name as well. Beyond that, you’ll know at the end of every day’s work that you’ve helped someone, often profoundly.
But do you have what it takes? Here are a few things to consider before you start down the road toward achieving this career.
A typical lawyer’s student loan debt averaged more than $140,000 in 2016, and becoming a lawyer is no longer a surefire path to a life of social and economic privilege. Many lawyers earn a comfortable living and a J.D. certainly has value in today’s marketplace, but you must weigh the cost of law school and three years of lost earnings against the potential returns of a law degree. Some areas of practice pay much more than others. If you take a job in a legal clinic helping low-income residents, you’ll earn much less than if you take a position with a large law firm.
Law school is a three-year program if you attend full time, and you can only qualify for law school after you’ve received your bachelor’s degree. Law school is a full-time proposition with class work, and doesn’t really allow for outside work.
Do you do well on tests under pressure? In addition to the LSAT and the bar exam, law students must take numerous tests throughout law school. Sometimes your grade is determined by only one test given at the end of a year-long course, so performing well is a measure of one’s test-taking ability, at least in part.
You must be comfortable presenting information to others, including clients, juries, judges, arbitrators, opposing counsel, witnesses, boards, and colleagues. Trial lawyers must feel at home advocating to a judge and being center stage in the courtroom. Corporate lawyers must be equally at ease in the boardroom with eyes glued on them down both sides of the conference room table. Even in-house lawyers are required to head committees, lead meetings and make presentations to staff and others.
Logical reasoning and critical thinking skills are essential to the practice of law. Being able to analyze the situation is an important skill for all practice areas, whether you’re structuring a multi-million-dollar deal or developing a trial strategy. If you like logic puzzles, research, and critical thinking, then you may enjoy being an attorney. If you’re looking for a great town to get started, you could become one of the new attorneys in Anderson Indiana and bring justice a town in need.
Most law firm attorneys are responsible for client development. Compensation, bonuses, draws and partnership opportunities are frequently based on an attorney’s ability to bring in business for the firm, at least in part. So, in addition to the demands of practicing law, you must excel at marketing yourself and your organization to prospective clients.
If you’ve been agreeing or nodding yes to any of these questions this could be the job for you, just know it will take lots of work. Good luck.