Being a lawyer is one of those high profile jobs that has been popularised by TV and film media throughout the decades. At best society sees lawyers as well-off legal advocates and at worst sees them as morally bankrupt defenders of criminals.
While entrenched societal views on the profession should not affect your decision to pursue it, you should be clear on your reasons for wanting to pursue law. Law is one of the hardest academic subjects to pass and is not exactly a cushy job once you graduate.
Therefore people who wish to study and practise law need to be sure they are ready for the commitment they will need to make. Let’s take a look at whether or not you should pursue a legal career.
Are you a people person?
While lawyers aren’t comedians or talk show hosts, they need to have communication skills in order to interact with their clients. When people come to you seeking legal counsel, they are relying on you as a professional to communicate with them using layman’s terms.
This means you need to be able to disseminate large amounts of legal information and translate it in a way that makes clients feel confident in your abilities. Often your communication skills will be required to help a client understand their legal situation and what their realistic options are.
As a lawyer you may also be required to collaborate with other legal professionals and this will require you to be able to share a workload with someone else.
Are you a good rhetorician?
This skill is especially important in criminal and family law matters where you will advocate on behalf of your client in front of a judge, magistrate or jury. You should be able to persuasively communicate your client’s case in a court of law where it will be heavily scrutinised by the judge and opposition.
Are you a good researcher?
The bread and butter of legal work is studying precedent and jurisdictional rules so that you can create an actionable case. If you don’t have good research skills it can be easy to get bogged down in this line of work.
As you career advances and you become a more bankable lawyer, you will likely hire a team of paralegals who can perform the bulk of research that you need for a case. This is necessary because at high levels you will be dealing with too many complex cases for you to manage without a support team.