Law school is expensive and most people leave with a lot of debt. You will have to pass the Bar exam to become a lawyer. You will have to specialize in an area of law and build your reputation in that area. Most lawyers work long hours, often nights and weekends. Lawyers sometimes deal with clients and cases that are unpleasant or even horrifying. Going out on your own means doing all of the work yourself, whether you’re ready or not. There are ways to maximize your income as a lawyer, reduce your debt load, and ensure that you can have a satisfying legal career.
Law School is Expensive and You’ll Probably Get Into a lot of Debt
Law school is expensive. The average law school tuition in the U.S. is around $50,000 per year, which means that your education degree may cost you upwards of $200,000 if you don’t get any financial aid or scholarships. If you do decide to go to law school and take on a lot of debt, it’s important to understand what that will look like after you graduate. Many legal professionals choose to get dual degrees in their undergraduate programs to give them more options later on. They also choose to invest in LSAT prep courses when they are getting ready to apply to law school because good scores can offer some opportunities for scholarships and fellowships that help alleviate tuition costs.
You Need to Pass the Bar
You will have to pass the Bar exam to become a lawyer. The Bar exam is a tough test that even the best students need to study hard for. The exams must be taken in your state as well, and if you don’t pass, you cannot become a lawyer. Fortunately, you get a certain number of tries that vary by state, but if you fail it once, you at least get a second try.
You’ll Need a Specialty
You will have to specialize in an area of law and build your reputation in that area. Whether it’s criminal defense, business law, or family law, lawyers choose a specialty and focus on that. Once you have a specialty, you’ll need to build your reputation in that area to build a good client base so you can make money as a lawyer.
The Hours are Long
Most lawyers work long hours, often nights and weekends. You’re going to be busy. Law firms and government agencies are open during the day Monday through Friday, but that doesn’t mean your work week is actually 40 hours long. It simply means that research, paperwork, preparing arguments, and more tasks take place at any hour of the day, and that you’ll need to put in long hours to get everything done. Just because you don’t have to go into an office every day doesn’t mean that you’re not working.
Not All Cases Give You Good Vibes
Lawyers have to deal with clients and cases that are often unpleasant or even horrifying. Lawyers have to deal with people who are in crisis, often in great pain, and sometimes angry about it. This can be especially difficult for someone who isn’t accustomed to dealing with emotionally distressed people on a regular basis. Plus, if you’re on a criminal case, the details of the crime can sometimes be stomach-churning. It’s important to be mentally prepared for these cases not just so you can win them, but so that your mental health doesn’t take a dive. Some lawyers see a therapist regularly to help them keep a healthy mind when they often work with tricky cases.
Going Solo is Hard
Most lawyers start their careers working with a law firm. This gives them experience and support when they are just getting started. Going out on your own means doing all of the work yourself, whether you’re ready or not. While this can be very exciting, it’s also a lot of pressure. You’ll be in charge of making sure that your clients’ needs are always met and their deadlines are met on time. You will almost certainly have to work late nights and weekends at some point during your career—and that’s just one more thing you have to be prepared for when starting as an attorney without an established practice.
People go into law often because they believe in the legal system and want to be a part of it. They want to make an impact by helping clients. Law is a rewarding and fulfilling career for many. If you’re interested in becoming a lawyer, make sure you understand what lies ahead before plunging into law school or taking the Bar exam.
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