Lawyers have one of the most well-known and prestigious white-collar jobs. Consequently, many people ponder becoming a lawyer at some point in their lives. The media often portrays lawyers as having a glamorous, exciting, and demanding career. At the same time, lawyers also deal with negative stereotypes and stigmas that come with the profession. While being a lawyer may be exciting at times, it also tends to include a lot of tedious paperwork and writing.
Becoming a lawyer is a big decision and a big commitment. The decision should not be taken lightly, as it requires years of education, hard work, dedication, and patience. That said, what are the pros and cons of being a lawyer?
The pros of being a lawyer include a high salary, lots of career choices, excitement and intellectual stimulation, the ability to make a meaningful difference, and prestige. The cons of being a lawyer include needing a long and expensive education, a highly stressful environment, working with demanding clients, and dealing with negative stigmas.
Are you interested in becoming a lawyer and want to weigh the pros and cons before making such a huge decision? Or maybe you just want to learn more about what goes on in one of the most impressive and high-status professions in the world. Whatever your case may be, read on to explore the role of the lawyer, the main pros and cons of being a lawyer, and which types of lawyers make the most and least money.
- What do lawyers do?
- What are the pros of being a lawyer?
- What are the cons of being a lawyer?
- Which types of lawyers make the most money?
- Is being a lawyer right for you?
What do lawyers do?
Lawyers can wear many hats and work in a variety of fields. In short, lawyers give legal advice to individuals, businesses, and government agencies and represent them in court and legal transactions. They also are responsible for advising their clients of their legal rights. They must use their knowledge of the law to provide their clients with quality advice and services. When lawyers go to court, they present their case to the judge on their client’s behalf and use their logical reasoning and persuasiveness to argue for a desired outcome.
What are the pros of being a lawyer?
Becoming a lawyer comes with several distinct advantages. When deciding whether or not to become a lawyer, it is crucial to be aware of these advantages. Here are some key benefits that come with being a lawyer:
Many career choices
There are many different types of law that one can practice, and lawyers have the freedom to choose what suits them best. Common types of law include immigration, probate, divorce, injury, bankruptcy, environmental, constitutional, and criminal law. Some lawyers choose to be the “jack of all trades” and cover every area of law as a general practitioner.
Lawyers may even decide to move away from practicing law, and they have the benefit of their skills being relevant to many other career options (i.e., legal consulting, publishing, administration, banking, technology, human resource management). Many lawyers can often operate their own business, which is a massive pro for people who don’t like the idea of having a boss.
High paying salary
One of the most significant benefits of being a lawyer is the hefty salary, which certainly draws many people towards this field. Although lawyers are making less on average than they have in the past, the average salary is still $110,000 a year, which is still considered an excellent salary! For reference, the average American brings home around $62,000 a year.
Related: How Do Lawyers Make Money?
Lawyers benefit from working at a job that is exciting, challenging, and intellectually stimulating. Lawyers rarely ever get bored at work because every day is different and requires them to use their knowledge and critical thinking skills. Think about it: lawyers get to argue and
debate for a living! Becoming a lawyer may be a great option for people who crave excitement and variety from their careers.
They get to help others.
Lawyers have a meaningful career that allows them to make a real difference in people’s lives. They get to help people and businesses in need and pursue justice on their behalf. They are also able to empower others to understand their legal rights. For many lawyers, the reward they get from supporting others outweighs the drawbacks of this career and may even be a bigger pro than the high-paying salary.
Lawyers are considered prestigious and respectable by many. With this prestige often comes the ability to work for reputable companies. They are highly educated and tend to have a certain level of authority over others. They regularly get good perks at work as well, such as gym memberships, assistants, and even a decorating budget for their office.
What are the cons of being a lawyer?
Despite the advantages, lawyers face many struggles in their line of work as well. There is a reason that lawyers are consistently ranked among the worst professions in the US. Consider these disadvantages carefully before deciding to become a lawyer:
Expensive and arduous education
Most lawyers are in school for an average of seven years (four years in undergrad and three years in law school). Seven years in school is a significant time commitment, and it also delays people from entering the workforce. On average, law school costs around $150,000, which doesn’t even consider the cost of undergrad. The high price tag often requires students to take on substantial student loans which can take decades to pay back. Typically, the better the law school, the higher the educational expense.
Related: 7 Ways How to Afford Law School
Lawyers are known for having a poor work-life balance. They often work long hours; it is not uncommon for lawyers to work 60-90 hours a week. Lawyers are also often strapped with deadlines and high demands from their clients. Further, lawyers are under a lot of pressure to make good decisions in highly stressful situations. Just one mistake can ruin a lawyer’s reputation. Dealing with the stress and anxiety that comes with being a lawyer is a deal breaker for many.
Lawyers frequently have to represent difficult clients whose morals they may disagree with. They are not always able to pick and choose their clients. Lawyers are required to put their feelings aside and give each client their best.
Competitive job market
Lawyers have to deal with substantial competition, which requires them to work even harder to get ahead and build up a good reputation. Unfortunately for lawyers, more and more legal work is being outsourced to foreign countries with a cheaper labor rate. Outsourcing has made the competition even worse for lawyers. The rise in technology has hurt lawyers as well, as more people utilize online legal services that are much less expensive. As such, lawyers are not guaranteed a good job after finishing law school.
Lawyers are among the most hated jobs in the US, ranking among the top #5 for worst high-paying professions. They also tend to have a bad reputation, often being called liars, thieves, snakes, etc. Lawyers may have to deal with jokes at their expense on a daily basis. The ridicule may be an issue for some, while others can laugh it off and not let the stereotypes get to them.
Which types of lawyers make the most money?
Not all areas of law are created equally! There is a significant variation in income depending on what type of law you practice. Public service lawyers make the least amount of money. Public defenders earn about 50% of the median salary for lawyers, and prosecutors earn about 75% of the median salary. The lower end of the spectrum also includes employment lawyers, real estate attorneys, divorce attorneys, and immigration attorneys. Public defenders make the least out of everyone, with an average salary of $66,000 a year.
On the other hand, medical attorneys make the most money, with an average salary of $250,000 a year. Intellectual-property attorneys, tax lawyers, corporate lawyers, and trial attorneys are also among the highest paying branches of law.
Is being a lawyer right for you?
Despite the negative stereotypes surrounding lawyers, they play an incredibly important role in our society. We need them now more than ever. If you seek a challenging, exciting, and meaningful career where you will have the opportunity to help others and make a difference each day, then being a lawyer might be right for you.
The large salary certainly doesn’t hurt either! However, if long hours, hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition, and working with difficult clients sounds like a nightmare to you, then perhaps you should consider another career trajectory. There is no doubt that lawyers have stressful and demanding careers, but like most challenging things in life, the job can yield very high rewards.
Ultimately, you will have to weigh the pros and cons and make that decision for yourself. Continue researching what it is like to be a lawyer and consider reaching out to a few lawyers and asking them questions about their careers.
Hi! I’m Jensen Skinner. I have my MA in Forensic Psychology and have a passion for writing. My favorite topics to write about include psychology, criminology, police, law, finance, and lifestyle blogging! If you need a writer, please reach out to me on LinkedIn and I’d be happy to see if we can work together.