“If you are trying to take a difficult decision and you’re weighing up the pros and cons, you have frank conversations. Everybody knows this in their walk of life.”Tony Blair.
Even though the journey to becoming a lawyer is a long and hard one, and even though they are often an integral part of the economic and social (and obviously legal) fabric of society, they aren’t generally liked or recognised by the public in the same way. Lawyers have an image problem. In fact, a 2014 Pew survey found lawyers last among ten professional categories in “contributions to society.” That’s a tough fact to swallow and a tough act to follow when it comes to changing how lawyers are perceived in future.
However, it’s somewhat ironic that perceptions change sharply when a person needs one. As soon as you need a lawyer and you need one fast, opinion changes. When you are in trouble and you are sat at your computer, with the words “how much will it cost to hire a lawyer” typed into the Google search bar, lawyers will become your saviors.
So, is being a lawyer a blessing? Or a curse? This article explores a few sides of each argument.
- Flexibility – there are a huge amount of career options available to you in the legal field. With a broad variety of practice areas – from criminal to corporate, or prosecutor or defence lawyer, there’s a huge swathe of variety when it comes to the work lawyers do.
- Who employs who – lawyers have the freedom to either work for themselves, set up their own firm, or join a multinational organisation to name a few!
- Opportunity – lawyers have some of the best opportunities when it comes to secondments, both domestically and abroad, remuneration and the ability to work with a huge variety of different industries.
- You get to talk, a lot – if you love a debate or an argument, you literally get to do this for a living! I can’t confirm or deny if this was one of my main reasons…(hint: it was).
- Intellectual challenge – it is a job that demands and promotes intellectual growth. Lawyers are expected to find creative solutions to problems and remain up to date regarding changes in the law.
- Stress – lawyers have to contend with a lot of their stress in their day-to-day practice. High-pressure deadlines, high-expectation clients and the intellectual challenge outlined above are just a few of the reasons why the legal profession can be so demanding.
- Expectation – at times, you will be expected to work long hours and have slightly unpredictable hours for particularly busy weeks involving deadlines.
- Qualification – law school is very expensive, regardless of where you study. In the UK, you can expect to pay tens of thousands of pounds to ensure you meet each step of qualification in order to practice.
- Restricted choice – for some areas of law, you may have little choice on who to take on as a client.
At the end of the day, as with any career, you ultimately need to balance the pros and cons of pursuing a certain career to decide if it’s for you. This article touched on just a few of those – no doubt there are many more!