Employment as a lawyer can be stressful and some individuals find themselves burned out after several stressful years.
Most attorneys work on a salary basis and put in far more than 40 hours per week. In many cases attorneys may work double a forty hour work week, or more.
Employment Prospects for Legal Jobs
Attorneys and lawyers may specialize in very specific corners of the law such as:
- Family law
- Criminal defense
- Corporate law
- Criminal prosecution
Places For Employment
The majority of all attorneys work in private practice, either in their own firm, in a firm owned by someone else or in a firm where they are a partner.
Other lawyers find work with public and private organizations and agencies as well as corporations.
Many large corporations typically hire lawyers to fill positions known as ‘house counsel’ in which the attorney works exclusively for the benefit of the corporation.
Individuals who are interested in the segment of law related to criminal prosecution can find work in the political arena as a district attorney or assistant district attorney.
Other similar employment prospects include:
- Public defenders
- Attorneys employed on the Federal level with the U.S. Department of Justice
Finally, some employers may work for non-profit organizations for the benefit of any number of causes and programs.
Many attorneys also frequently perform pro bono work, or work for which they are not paid, for clients who either cannot afford to pay for the services of an attorney or through a non-profit organization.
Job Search for Legal Jobs
Employment with coveted and lucrative firms can be extremely competitive.
Job seekers may begin as early as their high school education to begin laying the foundation for employment in a particularly sought after law firm. This may include extra-curricular activities as well as excelling in classes and clubs.
Building an impressive combined background of education and work experience is critical gaining entry to lucrative positions within the legal field.
The importance of networking in order to obtain job contacts within this context cannot be understated. Open employment positions with law firms are typically not advertised in newspapers or other forms of media.
Most law firms work with recruitment and employment agencies in order to fill open positions. In other cases, positions may not ever be advertised at all but are instead filled through networking and contacts.
Resumes for Legal Jobs
A carefully crafted resume is an absolute necessity in order to obtain a position as a lawyer.
Functional resumes are never used, as a functional resume focuses on skills and not experience.
A chronological resume or curriculum vitae resume is the standard when applying for a position as an attorney. Education, experience and any special skills or impressive experience that would benefit the employer should be focused upon.
Cover Letters for Legal Jobs
Cover letters are as equally important as a finely crafted resume in the search for employment in the legal field. As the employment in the legal field tends to be intensely competitive, a successful cover letter should draw the employer’s eyes to the unique skills and experience of the job seeker; those items which set him or her apart from the masses of other candidates seeking the same position.
Training & Qualifications for Legal Jobs
The training and qualifications required to enter employment in the legal services field depends on the position in which the candidate is interested. Regardless of specialty, all lawyer and attorney positions require the following education, at a minimum:
Graduation from an accredited four year university; after which time the candidate will apply to law school.
Undergraduate Study – Legal Jobs
Many law schools have very stringent requirements for admission such as high grades and good scores on the LSAT; the Law School Admission Test. Many students find it useful to focus on ‘pre-law’ courses during their undergraduate study such as:
- Speech / debate and foreign languages
Students who believe that they may wish to specialize in a particular segment of law may also focus on other specific courses during their undergraduate study which will aid them in the future.
Opportunities for advancement do exist within the field of law such as teaching and lecturing positions, research, administration and of course, judgeships.
Law School – Legal Jobs
Law schools, especially those that are deemed to be the best, typically only accept a limited number of students each year. If a student fails to make good grades in undergraduate school while working toward their Bachelor’s degree they will find it very difficult to gain admission to any law school.
Many undergraduate students compete for admission into the most prestigious law schools, realizing that graduation from an impressive law school can further their chances of finding better employment later in life.
Those students who are accepted have demonstrated excellent grades, exam scores as well as success and excellence in extra-curricular activities.
Most law students find it typically takes about 3 years to complete law school. During law school, most students compete to be awarded coveted internships which will greatly aid the student when it comes time to pursue employment following completion of their jurisprudence degree.
After completion of law school, the student still must pass the Bar exam in order to become licensed to practice law in the US.
The majority of all states require that attorneys and lawyers stay informed on changes in the law by taking continuing education courses.
Should an attorney prove to act dishonorably and in violation of the code of ethics that all lawyers are expected to maintain, that attorney can lose their license to practice law.