Working as a lawyer can offer diverse career opportunities that allow you to help others, work in a high-paying field and defend the law. If you’re considering a career as a lawyer, it’s helpful to review what their daily duties, activities and skills to be an exceptional lawyer. Learning how lawyers spend their time and careers can help you determine if the position is a good fit for your personal and professional goals.
In this article, we explain what a day in the life of a lawyer is like, list their daily responsibilities and provide other helpful information about lawyers, like the skills they need, their average salary, the job’s requirements and the benefits of the position.
What is a day in the life of a lawyer like?
An average day in the life of a lawyer can depend on the type of law they practice, where they work and what their experience level is. For established professionals, days can require long hours with lots of careful research and client meetings. While lawyers often perform important work in courtrooms, their daily job expectations typically have more to do with preparatory and administrative processes.
Many lawyers exceed the typical 40-hour work week and might have many requirements to fulfill throughout their days. Junior lawyers might assist others within their firms by helping them to research cases and prepare for important trials.
Daily job duties of an exceptional lawyer
While a lawyer’s exact duties can depend heavily on the type of law they practice, here are some of a lawyer’s typical daily job duties:
Catch up on missed calls, emails or communications
Assist individuals and businesses as a guardian, executor or advisor
Make court appearances to represent clients or gather important case information
Review legal data, laws and evidence
Prepare, draft and review legal documents
Host meetings with plaintiffs, defendants and opposing legal counselors
Review settlement agreements and negotiate terms
Supervise legal assistants
Prepare court arguments, defense or prosecution statements
Here are some skills that can help you in your role as an exceptional lawyer:
Not all lawyers appear in court, but those that do can benefit from public speaking skills that allow them to address judges, juries and court audiences with confidence. Delivering effective arguments can depend on a lawyer’s ability to communicate logical and sound defenses and prosecutions. Speaking confidently, articulately and slow enough for others to understand can take careful practice and a comfort in formal settings.
Research skills can also be incredibly beneficial for lawyers. Many cases depend on convincing arguments involving relevant precedents. Lawyers can use past verdicts and interpretations as evidence for their specific case. Careful research can also help them design effective arguments, ask insightful questions and prepare for counterpoints or arguments effectively.
Lawyers need critical thinking skills to interpret specific cases and determine the best approach to the case. They might design settlement agreements with another party involved, or they might advise a client on the best course of action for a specific situation. Critical thinking skills can help them foresee the consequences of certain choices or approaches so they can create reliable action plans that work well for their clients.
Attention to detail
Often, lawyers can notice seemingly insignificant details that can change the direction of a case or legal proceeding. Having all the information ensures they’re able to make informed arguments and decisions. Attention to detail can also help lawyers get relevant information from their clients and witnesses, allowing them to connect important pieces of information and create reliable narratives.
Communication skills are also very important for lawyers. Communication skills can help them communicate expectations to their client, deliver powerful arguments, work on settlements and communicate results to clients. Lawyers with strong intrapersonal skills can often offer better support to their clients because they can communicate with them so clients can understand court procedures and expectations.
A lawyer’s salary can depend on how much experience they have, their geographic location and the type of law they practice. In the United States, Lawyers can expect to make an average base salary of $73,544 per year. Many can expect to make more, however, especially if they work in fields like patent law, intellectual property law or corporate law. Lawyers can often grow their practice and increase their reputations by winning high-profile cases and gaining success in a particular specialty.
Job requirements for lawyers
To become a lawyer, there are a few requirements you may have to meet, including:
The educational requirements for lawyers can be extensive depending on the type of law they want to practice and how they hope to qualify for their desired position. All lawyers need at least a bachelor’s degree in law to qualify for the more advanced professional development and graduate opportunities specific to their area of practice. Most lawyers pursue an additional three years of law school after completing their undergraduate programs. Typically, lawyers need to get a Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school and pass the bar exam to practice law legally.
While not a specific requirement, lawyers often work long hours and can sometimes work in high-stress environments. While some lawyers can manage part-time or 40-hour workweeks, many work nights and weekends to fulfill all their responsibilities and commitments. For those who have other responsibilities or who place a higher priority on work-life balance, the time requirements of working as a lawyer may not be realistic for their schedules.
Before you can work as a full-time lawyer, you may have to secure a clerkship or internship. Many firms won’t hire full-time lawyers unless they have previous experience working in a law firm. Some lawyers choose to fulfill their experience requirements during their degree, but others might work in a firm before pursuing law school or work as an intern while preparing to pass the bar exam.
Benefits of working as a lawyer
If you’re considering a career as a lawyer, here are some benefits of the position that may appeal to you:
Lawyers have high earning potentials
While not all lawyers work in lucrative industries, some lawyers can expect to earn relatively high salaries for their roles. If you aspire to make a lot of money as a lawyer, pursuing an education from a respected university and gaining experience can help you increase your earning potential. Lawyers often also qualify for benefits like health insurance, 401(k) plans, paid time off and parental leave.
You get to help people
Depending on the specialty of law you pursue, you can provide valuable services as a lawyer. Helping defend individuals against unfair attacks or helping them prosecute others who have harmed them can be very beneficial to individuals, families and communities. Lawyers provide valuable services to those in need of their help and many can positively change the lives of their clients.
It’s a respected position
Because the educational and experience requirements for the profession are so extensive, many people have a positive view of lawyers and their intelligence. You can garner a lot of respect for a position as a lawyer. Many communities and families are proud of those who practice law and help represent deserving individuals in court.