Should You Be a Lawyer?
By Marty Nemko
My daughter is a lawyer and likes it, but…
A poll in California Lawyer magazine found that 70 percent of lawyers would choose a different career if starting over. A Johns Hopkins poll found that lawyers have the highest rate of depression among 104 careers.
Yet college graduates, in droves, continue to flock to law school. Why? If you’re not a science person, law appears to offer the most obvious path to money and prestige.
How can you predict if you’ll be a happy lawyer?
· Lawyers are generally happier if working for nonprofits or government rather than corporations. The cause feels better and the hours are shorter. The problem is that most aspiring lawyers know that, so competition for jobs in those sectors is fierce. Most successful applicants for those positions are graduates of designer-label law schools—Harvard, Stanford, etc.
· Most lawyers, especially, during their first years of practice, spend little time meeting with clients or appearing in court. Mainly, they do painstaking research, writing, and review of highly detailed documents. Would you like and be good at that?
· The lawyers who make the big bucks routinely work 60-90 hour weeks, especially during the seven years it takes to make partner. Want to do that?
· Your making partner in a law firm depends not only on your lawyering skills but on your rainmaking potential. Are you the sort who is aggressive and impressive enough to convince a corporate client to hire you over the zillions of other corporate attorneys vying for their business?
· Lawyers complain of considerable unethical behavior by opposing attorneys. Could you withstand the pressure without caving? I truly believe that an unethical life isn’t worth living. Better you should be a dishwasher than a crooked lawyer.
© Marty Nemko 2004-2013. Usage Rights