Question for all the lawyers/law students...

  1. What motivated you to go into your field? What do you like/dislike the most about it? I'm currently in the third year of my undergrad and am trying to decide if a career in law would be right for me, so any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. The ability to support myself motivated me to become a lawyer (from an undergraduate BFA degree). I dislike dealing with other lawyers most. Many of them are truly unpleasant. I like my job (criminal work) because it presents interesting situations.
     
  3. Not in law school or a lawyer, however, from a family of lawyers. My brother has deferred his admissions so he can work a little in the field of law he wants to study. His upcoming summer job/internship at a firm pays quite well, and it is a great way to get a feel for the field before committing all that money and time to law school. Plus, he found for the more competitive schools he was interviewing at, they really liked their incoming students to have a year or two of work experience.
     
  4. not a lawyer either but I put my 1st husband through law school. he went to school full time i worked full time. it was not a pleasant expereince for me at all. he really changed when he went to law school (he started a month after we got married and was a teacher prior) and we ended up getting divorced after he passed the bar. he and his new girlfriend (also an attorney) totally worked me over. i am not bitter but law school is a tough world.
     
  5. ^ I'm headed into that tough world! I'm really excited about law school though.
     
  6. I wanted to go into law. Interned at a really prestigious law firm in DC and HATED IT!! WITH A PASSION!! Not everything is for everyone.
     
  7. Wow, thanks for all the responses everyone. I 'interned' at a firm last summer--well, 'interned' is a bit of a stretch, since I mostly did research and filled out forms, but by the end of the summer I was able to sit in on a few meetings with clients and actually prepare some affidavits. I really liked the work (or what I saw of it), but I'm still a little bit ambivalent about it because I feel like I'm lacking some driving factor for it. It's really helpful to get other people's perspectives on the field though..please keep them coming.:smile:
     
  8. Well honestly it was law school or film school and then because I had a high LSAT I picked the safe route. I like the law okay, my pay is pretty good and can be pretty intellectually stimulating. I think interning somewhere is a good idea. It also depends on the type of law you want to practice. I'm on the business/banking/securities side and its very different from say a criminal practice. Public interest is interesting but the pay is very low and it seriously can be hard to pay off your loans or support yourself in a major city on the salaries.

    My fiance is also a lawyer, he works for a firm, and he likes it fine. Some people don't like the hours but honestly when you're making that kind of money and more when you're partner you're going to be working alot - its like building your business. I think its a bad deal though if you aren't at a major firm because unless your salary is high the hours worked can be alot.

    Although to tell you the truth I sort of wish I was an investment banker...
     
  9. Honestly for me it was just a kind of grad school that I could go to that didn't require me to have a specific undergrad major, and I could make good money. I'm not looking forward to the 60 hour weeks that are looming ahead of me, though. But once you take out the $175,000 in student loans, you're sortof stuck. I do get a little thrill out of finding cases that support a point I am trying to make and forming a strong argument. Sometimes I have difficulty resisting putting in footnotes saying "take that!"
     
  10. I am in law school now, and I really love the research and writing portion of it the best. I also like the idea that I will be able to work with people and help them solve their problems. My least favorite part is the forced curve - you have a class full of people who are used to making As and only 2.5%-5% can make an A. The curve varies by school, but I believe all schools have a curve. That makes it a competitive and stressful environment.
     
  11. Same here. i have a BFA in Art and art history, and wanted to get a masters and then a Phd to become a curator or a preservationist, but realized that in order to get one of those jobs you have to wait for someone to die. No joke... curators don't retire... they drop dead on the job, usually at a very old age!

    As far as other lawyers being unpleasant, it kind of depends on what kind of law you practice and what your feeling on a particular issue are... When I did plaintiff's PI work, I found that about 50% of the Ins. Defence lawyers were actually nice folks just doing a job... but the other 50% were absolute s*bs who I found to just be deplorable people.

    I do administative law now and work for the government in my state. While I'm not getting rich, the work I do (child advocacy) is incredibly fullfilling.
     
  12. Honestly many of my friends are attorneys and they're a well-traveled, interesting, cultured group of people. I have no idea why everyone is so down on attorneys, esp. those who are attorneys. Also law school debt can be alot but scholarships are available too. Also many great schools are state school and schools often have loan forgiveness programs if you go into public interest. Besides first year salarys are something like 160k in NYC right now, not including bonus.
     
  13. Law school...this is the same question I have been asking myself, and I have already applied. I have been working as a legal assistant for a couple of years at a very prestigious law firm in DC, and have mixed feelings about becoming an attorney. There are times where I can see myself really enjoying it as a career--its never boring, really allows you to use your brain, and you know that somehow you are helping someone or something (a huge company). Other times I feel all of the stress, responsibility and long hours (not to mention some of the people) isn't worth it, but you will find this to be an issue in many careers, not just in law. Something to think about: what would you like to specialize in, how much do you expect or would like to be compensated for this specialization, and how much do you value your free time, because frankly you won't have much of it.

    Nonetheless, good luck to you in your decision, and whatever you do, do it because it will make you happy.
     
  14. If you have the time, I highly recommend getting an internship before you apply to law school. It will enable you to see the day to day workings of the law and to determine whether you have enough of an interest to take the plunge.

    I got an internship at a law firm during college and during the year I took off before I went to law school. Looking back, it allowed me to get great advice from the attorneys I worked for and it gave me a realistic perspective on what I should expect from the practice of law.

    Also, talk to as many attorneys as you can to find out about different practice areas, the various environments in which you can work, and ask them what they like and dislike about their decision to pursue law.

    I practice commercial and intellectual property litigation at a NYC firm and am happy with my career choice. I genuinely enjoy the continued opportunites for intellectual growth and the frequent challenges. On the other hand, I also have a very different lifestyle than many of my friends: the weeks at work are long, the people I interact with can be difficult and there is a high stress level. In the end, I am still happy with my decision and that I had an opportunity at my first internship to see what I was getting myself into.
     
  15. I think the experience as attorney in government, at a large law firm, small law firm, solo practice, non-profit organization and a corporation are all totally different experiences. I interned or clerked in all of these environments during law school. I recommend talking to people from all of these areas to get a well-rounded perspective of the practice of law.

    I work at a corporation and love what I do, the other in-house attorneys I negotiate with and work with are pleasant and congenial, I work typically 10am to 6pm no weekends, and I enjoy not just doing legal work but you assist with business advice at companies as well. Corporations are more diverse and are a better place to be for a woman who wants to have a family one day. I knew in law school that I wanted to work at a company and was totally turned off by law firms. I was one of the rare ones who got a job at a company after graduation...that is typically not easy to do because companies tend to hire those with years of experience not new grads but I worked and got a lot of relevant experience while I was in law school.

    I find many just want to do become a lawyer for money and prestige and those tend to end up hating what they do eventually. Intern or job shadow and interview other lawyers like you are doing to find out if this is really the kind of work that you want to do. I studied business in undergrad and I had a natural interest in the growing popularity of the internet while I was in school in the late 90s, I was really into computers and technology and media and entertainment as my personal interests. So I chose to focus on areas of law where I would work in those industries and on those issues. Think about what kind of industry and work you would enjoy doing and try to intern in that field. If you are passionate about the environment, look into environmental law....television?...look into media law. It makes law far more enjoyable if you are interested in the issues you are advising your clients in. Don't just go to law school because you can't think of anything else to do or because of the income potential. If you just want a grad degree to get paid, get an MBA. Do what you love and the money will follow is what I always tell people. You will be miserable in law if you just work for a check. If you have to take out student loans like I did you will likely end up with six figures in loans like many do. That will limit the kind of jobs you will have to take for years afterwards. Some feel stuck in the legal field because they have huge loans to payoff. Many of my colleagues plan to do something totally different like teach school or start a business once they have paid off their student loans and/or mortgage off with the lawyer income. When I looked for my first job in 1999 the federal government, small law firms and companies and non-profits were paying a new graduate anywhere from $30k to $70k. I started at a company making $45k. It took about four years after graduation to hit six figures. So note that not everyone starts off making six figures out the gate. When I was in school the federal government started lawyers in the $45k range. The main people who start off making $125k+ right out of school work at large law firms. Large law firms don't even give you the time of day typically unless you go to a top 20 law school and are ranked in the top 10-15% of your class. So if by chance you do not end up with those stats, you can't count on the fact that you will get hired at a large law firm. The competition is fierce and there are far too many new graduates in law each year...the supply of lawyers far outstrips the demand for them in the market so firms can be ultra picky. At large firms you have a quota of hours you are expected to bill which is why you hear the common complaint about long hours like 14+ hour days. It as intensely competitive environment with all the associates fighting for the best assignments and to become partners. You also are expected to do more than just do your job and bill long hours but will be expected to socialize outside of work with clients and do other things to help drum up new business.

    Nonprofits can be very fulfilling and you can work for an organization that supports a cause you believe in. Nonprofits can pay low wages and high wages....it depends on the organization. Many of the ones I have been interested in paid $70k to $90k tops. Nonprofits may involve work like lobbyin on Congress for an issue or writing legal briefs to support a legal case that will affect your cause. They tend to have very small legal staffs like one to 4 lawyers.

    Government legal work typically involves a lot of policy and regulatory work, interpreting statutes, drafting regulations, enforcing policies etc. This was pretty boring to me so after interning at the Federal Communications Commission I decided it wasn't my thing.

    Well off to work....hope this helps