Being a lawyer has become one of the most popular and sought-after careers in the past few years. Yes, it does come with perks and a certain prestige, but it is also a demanding profession. What you see on TV and movies are different than in real life.
Before starting a career in the law, it is best to first check out what are you in for. Here are some of the worst things about being a lawyer.
At one point, any type of work can be stressful. It can be even more for lawyers. Imagine dealing with client demands, deadlines, long hours, billing pressures, changing laws and other similar situations. You are always battling the opposition, someone or some group when you’re pursuing a case. Everything can push you to extreme stress.
Practicing law also does not come cheap. Law schools can be costly even before you start your practice, possibly leaving you in debt at the beginning of your career. Suicide and depression rates are high for lawyers because of the high pressure and demands of the job. According to a study from the American Bar Association, 44 percent of the lawyers surveyed would not recommend what they do to young people. Aside from these facts, the industry is also facing disruption because of new legal technologies. Old schools of thought and policies are now undergoing examination and possible change because of evolution coming to existing legal practices. From the internet to the cryptocurrency space, it is a changing time for the law.
As mentioned, one of the contributors to a lawyers’ high stress are long hours. If you want to be a lawyer, you have to be prepared to put in the hours. These days, lawyers must deal with shrinking staff and rising workloads. Global law has become more demanding than ever and clients may require assistance from their attorneys around the clock.
It’s not surprising to find lawyers putting in 50-plus hour work weeks. Just like other industries, the law has become highly competitive in that there is pressure to always know what is happening and to cater to client demands efficiently – often this means working all the time. A career as an attorney does not give the work-life balance that many people strive for.
Law School Cost and The Competitive Job Market
College tuition is rising sharply as well as the money needed for law school. The cost of entering the law has moved past inflation in the last few years. Tuition can exceed $40,000 annually at top schools. You will find lawyers entering practice with a six-figure school debt. When you’re just a new graduate, your salary most likely won’t be enough to settle that debt. If you’re thinking of taking up the law to ensure financial security, you should do your calculations again. Manage your expectations.
Similarly, while lawyers can eventually get the chance to earn enough to be financially secure, you have to first get a job. Presently, the job market for lawyers is its bleakest in history. Salaries have gone down, jobs have been cut, and law schools continue to accept students. You will have to compete in a cut-throat market to get a place. Some lawyers have been forced to take less-than-ideal jobs to make ends meet. You have to consider your decision of becoming a lawyer and whether you want it.
Clients Are Cutting Costs
Clients are becoming mindful of their legal spending. Following years of billing increases that went beyond inflation, clients are growing more critical of the value they get from their money. This changing client behavior has forced lawyers to adjust their billing rates. The market is no longer willing to pay top dollar for lawyers because someone else can be found who can do the work more quickly and more efficiently for a lower price.
Shifting Legal Paradigms
Law as a practice is changing immensely. Lawyers are no longer the only ones on the field. A lot of other players have entered. These days, you can find self-help legal websites, paralegals, Artificial Intelligence on the web, legal document technicians, and virtual law offices among others. The internet has as much information as any lawyer. Lawyers now have to compete with non-lawyer sources. Some sources are reputable, some shady. There is no controlling what people can access and read. This uncertainty may drive clients away from established attorneys, no longer knowing what or whom to trust.
It’s hard to keep up with technology. It is always changing and improving. As mentioned, you have the internet where people can find an unlimited amount of resources. There are also new tools and platforms that provide legal assistance. Lawyers are no longer the only ones who can provide legal support. What is even more challenging is that some of these platforms can be accessed regardless of a person’s geographical location. People don’t need to spend the time to find someone local because they can simply turn to their devices or computer.
Legal support is no longer local. Many companies have outsourced work to more economical regions. The same applies to the legal industry. Low-wage sectors receive more legal work, so traditional lawyer jobs have started eroding or are becoming displaced.
Some lawyers give their fellow professionals a lousy reputation. Not everyone thinks highly of lawyers, and that may also contribute to their declining value in the market.
The prestige of a profession may not be enough basis for you to choose your career. You have to check whether it’s the career you want against the current market situation.