Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

The Life of a Lawyer

Lawyers live a life in which they are both advocates and advisors. Lawyers act as advocates by representing their clients during trials, presenting evidence in their favor, and making arguments that support their client’s view. They act as advisors by counseling their clients in regard to their legal rights and making suggestions about what actions they should take concerning complicated matters. What a lawyer does on a day to day basis usually depends on their specialization or field of practice. Common areas of specialization include international, financial, probate, environmental law, intellectual property, and insurance. For example, lawyers working in the field of intellectual property work to protect their client’s copyrights, such as product designs, musical recordings, and computer programs. Lawyers working for insurance agencies counsel them about insurance transactions and insurance policies, and represent them in court when claims are filed against the company.

Most of the time, lawyers can be seen working in courtrooms, offices, and law libraries. They spend a good deal of time meeting with clients either at their homes or businesses. They also conduct research in libraries, meet with authorities, and gather and interpret evidence for their cases. The majority of lawyers work in private practices, dealing with criminal or civil law. Lawyers working in criminal law argue the cases of their clients who have been charged with crimes. Lawyers working in civil law help their clients with legal issues regarding contracts, mortgages, titles, litigation, wills, trusts, and leases. It is not uncommon for these lawyers to work long and irregular hours while meeting with clients, conducting research, or preparing briefs.

Lawyers can also be employed by the government, either State or Federal, where they help to interpret laws and legislation, argue cases on behalf of the government, and establish enforcement procedures. At the State level they work as public defenders, attorneys general, and prosecutors, at the Federal level they work investigating cases for agencies like the U.S. Department of Justice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 27 percent of lawyers are self-employed, and work either in solo practice or as a partner in a law firm. Of the lawyers who work full time, about 33 percent work 50 or more hours each week. The growth of this occupation is average and between the year of 2008 and 2018 is expected to grow by 13 percent. Contributing to this growth is increases in population and business activities, which create more civil disputes, criminal cases, and legal transactions.

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