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I work as a solo practicing attorney. As a solo practicing attorney, I specialize in many different industries, including business transactions, personal injury, estate planning and criminal defense. I have four years experience.
Essentially, a lawyer is an agent or a representative of their client; so I act as a vehicle for my clients to use to navigate the legal system. While the client has control over “what” the representation entails (such as it being a contract case or a personal injury matter), I control the “how” and the other gritty details.
My work involves interviewing clients and witnesses, investigating facts, researching the law and relevant case work and drafting documents to file with the court. I also litigate on behalf of my clients, which involves speaking in court and making legal arguments.
A common misconception of attorneys is that they’re conceited and only after the money. I’m not saying it isn’t true in all cases, but from my experience, me and my cohorts are genuinely out there working to do the best we can for our clients.
I would rate my job satisfaction at an eight out of ten. I truly enjoy interacting with my clients and working in the judicial system. However, there are downsides. The hours can be long. Stress is a large concern that affects personal and business life.
Solving problems has always been a pastime of mine and legal work is just that. When a client walks into my office, they have some matter they need me to think about and provide with some answer. Through estate planning, for example, I can ensure the family feels that their property and wealth will be properly distributed and that it will go to the right people.
I was fortunate enough to build a sound network of contacts to help me build and maintain business. Some attorneys are also fortunate to have or know partners in established firms that can help them find a job or a practice.
It took me two years to finish law school; it usually takes three. Bar reviews are expensive and you typically can’t work while studying for a bar. The time, money and devotion you put in is important.
If I did this over again, I’d be more mindful about my loans and the spending while in school and while studying for the bar.
When you’re a solo practicing attorney, the hardest lesson is that there’s no one to really turn to; you have to trust your gut. The first case I handled cemented this lesson; I walked into court with my client overly cocky and ended up having to file a motion for recess to rethink some tactics.
It’s all up to you with regard to your success. In school, you had peers, professors, career services, etc. all looking out for you. But in the end, it’s what you do that decides where you go.
Strange is par for the course in the legal field. I’ve dealt with sun-meditating religious freedom cases and helped defend against baseless claims alleging conspiracy going all the way to the President of the United States.
I get up and go to work everyday knowing there’s a potential to make a difference in someone’s life. Defending a wrongfully accused defendant and being able to argue in his favor is one of my prouder moments.
Determining the truth and assessing credibility is always a struggle and always needs to be in the back of my mind. The worst thing is fighting for a client who ends up recanting everything he told you because he was lying.
Stress is an issue for me, as for most lawyers. The hours can be long and the stakes are often high. I do my best to relax with my family and friends outside of work to help strike a balance.
A rough salary is about $50,000 per year starting out. I set my fees and live within my means.
As a solo practitioner, I set my own hours. I can easily work hard in order to take vacation. It’s all limited by my output.
You must go to law school and pass the bar to practice and I advise people to do their best to go to a reputable law school and partake in many activities, such as law review and moot court.
I would tell a friend that law is not easy. You must be dedicated, willing to take on student loan debt and willing to put in all the time you have to succeed.
I’d be doing the same thing I am now: working for myself, representing the cases I choose and doing the best I can.
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