According to the American Bar Association (ABA), there are nearly 1.4 million lawyers practicing in the U.S. That number is up 15.2% over the past decade, and the demand for licensed attorneys continues to climb.
While there are plenty of jobs to go around, is becoming a lawyer right for you?
There are many potential reasons why you should become a lawyer. The pay is very good, with the average annual salary being $121,000, the work is intellectually challenging, and your career security and career prospects are solid. If you want to work as a lawyer for your entire professional career, it is more than possible to do so.
Most of all, you will be able to genuinely help people and make a difference in their lives. Learn more about the reasons why you should become a lawyer and the tangible rewards of going into the field.
Help People When They Need It Most: Car Accidents and Injuries
Getting in a car accident can be a traumatic experience, resulting in “anxiety, depression, anguish, fearfulness, issues with sleep, reoccurring nightmares about the crash and more,” according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). Those accidents can be even more upsetting when they result in serious injuries or possibly even life-changing ones. When you become a lawyer, you have the very real potential to help one of the 3 million people injured in a car crash every year.
After car accidents, a shocking number of Americans do not receive the compensation they deserve for their injuries. Their injuries leave them with costly medical bills and the inability to work for days, weeks, and sometimes even months at a time. Feeling the brunt of these costs can be debilitating and unfair. That is where you come in.
Find a job at a personal injury law firm to help drivers and passengers who may not have a clear-cut or simple case. By working as an auto injury lawyer, you can help people with denied or contested insurance claims, people with pre-existing conditions at the time of their accident, or even people who are experiencing delays in their medical treatment due to the slow processing of insurance claims. You could very well be the reason someone gets the care they need without raking up crippling debt.
One of the top reasons why you should become a lawyer is to help people. Auto accident law gives you plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Help The Elderly And Their Families
Unfortunately, the elderly are often the victim of fraud, scams, and lacking healthcare. “Approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as 5 million elders who are abused each year,” the National Council on Aging (NCOA) reveals. Plus, seniors lose nearly $3 billion per year owing to fraudulent financial schemes. These are just some compelling reasons why you should become a lawyer and help.
As a lawyer, you can represent aging clients who may be the victim of fraud. You can represent clients in hospice care or clients who wish to have a hand in their final arrangements and get their affairs in order before they pass away.
Hospice care is a critical field. The quality of a client’s hospice care can easily affect the quality of the last years of their lives. That said, if your client received questionable, subpar, or abusive care, there are actions they can take — with your help — to get help and receive compensation for harm or damages. As an elder law attorney, you will help clients gather appropriate documents and evidence, conduct an investigation, and help clients and/or their families take immediate steps to remove them from abusive situations.
What happens during estate planning? “Planning tasks include making a will, setting up trusts and/or making charitable donations to limit estate taxes, naming an executor and beneficiaries, and setting up funeral arrangements,” Investopedia writes. Working in estate planning law helps aging Americans and their families make some of the most pivotal decisions of their lives — decisions that will play an enormous part in their loved ones’ well-being after they pass.
As an estate planning attorney, you can help your clients with crucial decisions like, choosing an executor of his or her will. Choosing an executor of their will may be one of the most important decisions your client will make. Help them make the right decision. True, an executor of a will is responsible for distributing assets after your client’s death. They are also responsible for many more things, including filing their final tax returns and paying off any remaining taxes and debts.
Estate planning attorneys also accurately pin down family members’ needs. Does your client have enough life insurance? Do they have enough saved in trusts, bonds, stocks, and other assets to pay off their debts after they pass away? As an estate lawyer, you will meet with your client (and sometimes your client’s family) to clearly establish financial needs. That way, there are no unpleasant surprises after your client’s death.
You would also help with assigning a healthcare power of attorney. Like choosing an executor of their will, selecting a power of attorney (POA) is also absolutely critical. We cannot predict the future, and we cannot possibly know if we will be fit to make medical decisions in the future. This individual should be someone your client trusts — as well as someone who thinks clearly even while making difficult decisions.
Finally, you would assist families in taking steps to avoid excessive estate taxes. One of the reasons why you should become a lawyer is that you can help your clients and their families avoid significant and even crippling debts in the event of your client’s death. There are several steps you and your clients can take to mitigate estate taxes. Do that by encouraging clients to set up trusts, 529 plans, and/or make charitable donations while living to reduce taxable income.
Wondering why you should become a lawyer? Some of the most vulnerable populations need your help. Become an elder law attorney to make a true difference in people’s lives.
Help Innocent People
Speaking of helping people, wrongful convictions are far more common than you might expect. Nearly 200 people have been exonerated of serious crimes since 1964. Among those cases, “54% of those defendants are victimized by official misconduct, with police involved in 34% of cases, prosecutors in 30%, and some cases involving both police and prosecutors,” The Washington Post writes.
These figures show that, however much we would like to think otherwise, innocent people are being accused of and sentenced for crimes every single day. That is where criminal law comes in.
As a criminal defense attorney, you can get to the truth of the matter. As a criminal defense lawyer, your job is to show reasonable doubt. If a jury cannot conclude that your client is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” your client will likely win their case. You may use evidence, alibi witnesses, social media, computer searches, and character witnesses to demonstrate your client’s innocence.
As a criminal lawyer, you may do a good deal more than defend clients in court. Your job may entail helping a client negotiate a lesser sentence or even doling out bail advice should they find themselves in jail.
Practice In a Specialized Field
Another big reason why you should become a lawyer is that it grants you options. Most career paths are fairly straightforward. A firefighter is a firefighter. A radio host may have several different stations to choose from, but, at the end of the day, they are still a radio host doing more or less the same thing. Becoming a lawyer, on the other hand, is very different. There are so many different areas of law to choose from, and each area of law is decidedly unique.
To choose the area of law that best suits you, first consider your passions. Are you passionate about the environment, politics, or spending time with family? Asking what really makes you tick can help you choose a discipline that will inspire you and move you. If you are passionate about the environment, explore opportunities in environmental law. If you are passionate about family, working as a family lawyer and helping people navigate difficult times may move you. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it is something you are passionate about.
Secondly, think about who you want to help. Another way to pick your specialty is to think about who you want to help. Become an insurance attorney to ensure that people seeking necessary medical care do not get ripped off. Enter the healthcare law field to keep doctors and institutions honest, and to protect patients’ rights. Explore patent law if you wish to help endeavoring entrepreneurs and startup businesses.
Next, look to lawyers you admire. “Lawyers who currently work in the field that appeals to you can be great sources. They can tell you about their day-to-day lives and responsibilities, growth opportunities in the field and potentially even market demand for law school grads who specialized in a certain area,” U.S. News advises. If there is a lawyer whose work you admire, try to talk to them about it directly. Get their honest opinion and ask what it takes to break into that particular field.
Also, take advantage of your first years of law school. The majority of students begin their specializations during their third year of law school. That means you have two years to get your footing first. Use them wisely. Use the first two years to take a variety of classes. If you have potential specializations narrowed down to your two or three favorites, take classes in those fields and see which one you like best. If you are completely unsure, take a hodgepodge of classes and use these classes to get a feel for your passions and interests.
Finally, get hands-on experience. If you have an interest in a particular area of law, find a clerkship at a firm that specializes in that interest. For example, if you want to become a real estate attorney, become a clerk at a real estate firm — while you are in school — to earn hands-on experience and to learn the realities of what you can expect on a day-to-day basis.
One of the top reasons why you should become a lawyer is that it gives you a unique and rewarding opportunity to pursue and go after your interests.
Run Your Own Law Firm And Be Your Own Boss
Another compelling reason why you should become a lawyer is to ultimately start your own practice. The New York Post puts it plainly: “Most Americans dream of being their own boss.” More specifically, 62% dream of quitting whatever it is they are doing right now to start their own business. Starting your own private practice combines law with entrepreneurship.
If you wish to start your own practice, plan on a few things.
First, you’ll be doing even more paperwork. Yes, as a lawyer, paperwork may already make up the bulk of your job. As your own boss, expect even more. You will be responsible for completing payroll documents, new hire paperwork, and more.
Secondly, you will need to effectively market your business. When you start your own law practice, treat it like you would any other company — at least when it comes to marketing it. Invest in your advertising strategy. You will need strong advertising to build up a clientele base.
Lastly, you will need to build and maintain your company website. Working as a lawyer requires many different skills. It often does not require direct web design experience, however. If you own your own practice, you will need a company website. Pick up new skills or hire a website design company to do it for you. Remember that customers and clients will judge you based on appearances. For that reason, it may be best to enlist the help of a professional.
There are many compelling reasons as to why you should become a lawyer. Become a lawyer to make a comfortable wage, help people when they need it most, and/or ultimately start your own practice and become your own boss.