Many are quite aware of the false images of lawyers and attorneys. Of course it is a common image in people’s minds of spotless suits, crystal clear glasses, and triumphant speeches like those seen in Hollywood movies. Yet countless people do not have an accurate idea of what the life of a lawyer actually looks like on a day to day basis. So not going off what is seen on T.V. and movies, what do lawyers do all day?
On a day to day basis lawyers spend much of their time studying and reviewing case details both inside and outside of their office or law firm. Lawyers also focus much of their time on working with clients as well as devoting much time to working by themselves as well as collaborating with others.
Different Days for Different Lawyers
To start off one thing that needs to be said is that different disciplines and practices of law will require lawyers to have different days.
While most people may not know the nuance between different types of lawyers in the traditional sense and picture one type of lawyer going to court and handling cases in front of a judge, there are different roles and jobs that different lawyers and attorneys do.
For example many businesses and large corporations have lawyers that work for their private business. These lawyers, referred to as, in house counsel, serve as the lawyers of their employing company and serve them only. Their day is structurally very similar to other lawyers but they will also have a set of tasks that differ from lawyers at law firms and other sects of law.
For this article we will go over general tasks that most lawyers do in some regard to convey the day of a lawyer in a general sense. Some key exceptions and explanations will be conveyed as well.
Up Bright and Early
Lawyers begin their day by arriving at their office to get to work. Oftentimes lawyers will arrive early before the law firm or office officially opens in order to take advantage of the quiet time.
During these early hours/start of the day they are planning their day and beginning tasks. This includes things such as:
- Responding to emails
- Planning and scheduling meetings
- Preparing documents and filings
Where Do Lawyers Work During the Day?
The job of a lawyer can be done from home, although most lawyers report to and work from an office. The office type depends on the practice of law that the lawyers serve in. Let’s go back to the example above with in-house private lawyers and public lawyers.
In house lawyers that work for a business may work in their companies building in a law/legal department while public lawyers will work in a law firm. Although their buildings and groups are different, both groups work in offices essentially.
The size of a legal department or law firm differs. This means lawyers can work in small groups with one to ten lawyers or for a large corporate group with hundreds. A lawyer can even work for themselves solo in what is referred to as a solo practitioner and work from home.
What Do Lawyers Do During Business Hours?
The actual work conducted by lawyers during the day is primarily split into two sections. Work done by themselves, or alone and work done with others. The job of a lawyer is both a solitary and collaborative occupation so their job consists of them spending great time working alone as well as collaborating with internal and external parties out of their office/firm.
After starting their day with quick tasks and planning lawyers will then get into the core of their work. During this time lawyers will dive deep into the tasks that they had been planning earlier. This means they will begin to write and edit the docs and correspondence they made note of earlier, and review the documents that they searched for and found earlier as well.
Working With Others
Lawyers will meet with clients that they are representing as well as clients that they may be assisting with other attorneys and lawyers. Lawyers will meet with clients that they have an existing case with to update information and continue with planning while also meeting with new clients to start at the beginning process of whatever case/situation they are in.
Part of meeting with clients for lawyers includes interviewing them as well as briefing them on their overall case. Lawyers will inform clients with any new information and findings present in their case to keep them updated.
Working with clients is a huge part of a lawyer’s day. This looks like meeting clients face to face in person, talking with clients over the phone, and messaging clients through email. Maintaining a good client relationship is vital for lawyers, so most will devote a great deal of their days to making sure they are happy.
In addition to clients, lawyers will also meet with other lawyers and attorneys as well. This calls lawyers to meet with lawyers that they are collaborating on cases and files with as well as meeting with opposing lawyers too. Opposing lawyers and attorneys will meet to discuss details and represent their clients.
Another key party that lawyers will meet with are paralegals and legal assistants. Legal assistants and paralegals will assist lawyers with providing key information, documents, and review details to make notes for lawyers. Lawyers meeting with their assistant and paralegals is helpful as they receive valuable information and insights that they may not have to time search and review for.
What Do Lawyers Do Outside of Business Hours
Life as a lawyer is a demanding and busy profession. This means that work does not always stop when a lawyer leaves their office.
It is not unordinary for lawyers to log hours working at home outside of their business hours. Lawyers will spend this extra time reviewing details of cases more often than not. Remember that for a lawyer, their profession is essentially homework for a living as they review many, many details and write constantly.
Many lawyers, in an attempt to separate their business and professional life, will refuse to bring their work home yet still work after hours. This means they stay at their office for hours after it closes to continue their work.
In the Courtroom
Lawyers, or attorneys that are certified and can practice law in a court, will make appearances in court in the districts where they are certified and recognized by law. The amount of time going to court as an attorney will depend on many factors. The biggest factor is the sect of law they practice in, either civil or criminal.
Other factors that influence the court process and timeline for a lawyer include:
- Individual case circumstances( the more complicated the case, the longer it takes to prepare for trial)
- The number of parties involved in the case
- The availability of witnesses( if witnesses are needed)
When a lawyer is about to enter into their trial/case their days will become much longer. Before a case begins lawyers will have prep time to prepare their case and it is a very long and heavy tasked time.
Essentially, during prep time for a case lawyers will spend hours preparing for direct examination and hours more preparing for cross examination as well. Additionally, during this time lawyers will form a game plan and an outline for interviewing witnesses, and bringing up their findings and evidence as well.
A portion of a lawyer’s day more often than not is filled with them continuing their education. For some Bar administrations lawyers are required to stay up to date with recent changes and new laws as well as have a proper understanding of established laws as well. In some states lawyers are legally required to take a certain amount of hours in legal education to remain in good standing and keep their license to practice law. This means studying during the day for these lawyers.
Not only do lawyers and attorneys represent businesses but for many they help run businesses as well. For lawyers who run their own firms, part of their day will consist of helping to manage their firms day to day operations.
Part of a lawyers day depending on if they own their own firm, is to run their business efficiently and successfully. This includes marking their firm to reach new clients and grow their business. Law firms market themselves in a variety of ways such as:
- Social media
- Print flyers
- Word of mouth marketing
As well as marketing, law firm owners will be tasked with hiring and staffing their firm with other lawyers. This means scouting potential hires and interviewing potential lawyers and attorneys as well.
The day of a lawyer is both long and laborious. Whether it is an attorney for a private company or a lawyer working at a private firm for the public, their days will be full of much studying, reviewing, and working alone and with others.