Have you ever dreamed about becoming an attorney? Almost every kid wanted to become one at some point. Undoubtedly, one of the main reasons that practicing law has become more popular over the last few decades is legal television series.
On television, lawyers are energetic individuals who work on their client’s case and defend them in court. Without a doubt, attorney jobs are exciting and rewarding. Still, there is much more to it than just a lavish lifestyle and a big salary. To achieve such a level, a person needs years of education and practice before becoming eligible to apply for attorney jobs.
In legal practice, each case is unique and requires special attention to details. Each case will have similarities and differences, but you most probably won’t encounter two identical ones. Here’s everything you need to know about the job of an attorney in the United States.
- Criminal defense attorney
- Work-from-home attorney
- Associate attorney
- Document review attorney
Attorney Job Description
The education path of an attorney is long and time-consuming but highly rewarding. Entry-level attorney jobs usually require a degree in law and a few years of practice. Although education is the same for all aspiring attorneys, the day-to-day duties and responsibilities may vary depending on the area of law.
Nevertheless, the attorney position means that some tasks are common for all attorneys, irrespective of their job description. One of those tasks, which also tends to be the most common, is client advising.
Giving sound legal advice to a client about a matter that concerns them is a big part of the job. Most of the time, attorney law jobs include consulting clients about legal issues they might be facing.
It’s no secret that sometimes legal practice can have gray areas, especially when it comes to criminal defense attorney jobs. Understanding the situation someone is in and giving the best possible advice according to applicable laws and legislation makes an attorney stand out.
Another critical daily task attorney jobs in the USA have is research. While working on a case, you will be responsible for researching all the evidence relevant to the case. In addition to physical evidence, attorneys will also search for accident reports, other documentation from the police, and pleadings related to the specific case.
Interpretation of law is another example of daily jobs for an attorney. This involves the direct reading and analysis of statutes and past decisions in similar cases. Many people come to legal professionals having general attorney jobs after a verdict, looking for an appeal and a second opinion.
In this case, the attorney has to evaluate the decision by considering all factors. Factors in question are taken from that specific case and from others that may apply to the situation.
After evaluating all the factors, the attorney can give their final opinion—an agreement with the court’s decision or disagreement with supporting arguments. Then the client can decide to make an appeal at the court and present new evidence or arguments. Usually, performing these tasks can occur in the law firm, but some attorneys with work-from-home attorney jobs provide the same service.
In addition to being knowledgeable about law, those pursuing an attorney career have to be great strategists. Sometimes clients are in a situation where they don’t have resources and want to close the case as soon as possible. This situation usually means that the client wants to avoid taking the case to court.
Taking a case to court inevitably means that it will be time-consuming, not to mention expensive. That’s why sometimes it’s up to an attorney to find a way to settle the case. The reason for such a strategy is to avoid having the case reach a higher authority and save the client’s time and money.
Even though such jobs seem exciting, dealing with bureaucracy is sometimes inevitable. Clients are often unable to prepare wills, deeds, and contracts on their own because creating such formal documents requires meeting specific standards. This is another example of why even associate attorney jobs play a crucial role in such situations.
In other words, any type of legal document that inexperienced individuals draft requires a lawyer’s expert scrutiny. While certainly not among the best jobs for attorneys, such work is still necessary.
Things that lawyers usually thoroughly examine include the contents and accordance with the law. Sometimes the parties come up with a rough draft, and then the attorney takes over to finalize the official document.
On other occasions, attorneys create documents from scratch. Document review attorney jobs require individuals with proper training and years of experience due to the need for an error-free document.
Lastly, the part that seems the most fun and glamorous involves attorneys who make their appearance at court, where they defend their clients’ best interests. Entry-level attorney jobs will usually not include this task until the individual gains sufficient experience. At the same time, appearing in court is why lawyers need to be great communicators.
These legal professionals must present the case adequately and convince the jury with the right arguments. Put simply, being knowledgeable and having all the evidence is not enough if individuals doing contract attorney jobs don’t have the necessary soft skills.
Depending on their expertise and years of practice, attorneys can earn between $80,000 and $180,000 per year. The average that individuals doing attorney jobs in the USA make is around $120,000. Of course, an attorney job salary is flexible, meaning that they can also get commissions from various projects.
Job opportunities for lawyers are so diverse that sometimes attorneys work for companies that do business in various industries, rather than seeking employment in traditional law firms. That means that the company in question is large enough to have a separate, in-house law department advising on various matters.
Individuals applying for such attorney job postings earn significantly different amounts of money depending on the industry in which they operate.
Some of the highest-paying attorney jobs are in cable and other subscription programming industries. The transportation of crude oil and vehicle manufacturing industries come in second. In these industries, attorneys can earn between $205,000 and $235,000 per year.
Additionally, other lucrative industries include computer equipment and petroleum manufacturing, where salaries for attorney jobs typically range from $200,000 to $205,000. In general, federal and civil attorney jobs provide higher income than freelance attorney jobs and remote attorney jobs.
If you happen to be an aspiring attorney, opening your private practice may sound like an ideal option at first glance. However, bear in mind that self-employed lawyers boast salaries that are usually lower than remuneration in private companies and consulting agencies.
Before making the final decision, make sure to consider all of the factors, including the investment you have to make. Also, bear in mind that employment opportunities for lawyers may become a priority for you if you end up closing your practice for whatever reason in the future.
However, the overall demand for attorneys is on the rise, and projections show that attorney job listings will grow by 8% by 2026. Alongside the rising demand, there are more and more graduates to fill these positions. This competitiveness is why it’s crucial to stay focused and ensure a stellar academic record that allows you to stand out.
Becoming an Attorney (Education)
Before working on their own, applicants for US attorney’s office jobs have to go through a long education and training process. The specific education path may vary from state to state. Still, you’ll need at least four years of undergraduate studies, three years of law school, and a JD (Juris Doctor) degree to start applying for USA attorney jobs.
After obtaining your bachelor’s degree, you should apply for an accredited law school, where you need to choose your field of study. Undergraduate studies are usually general, and the main goal is to teach you the basics and varieties of law. After obtaining your degree, you should go to a law school to specialize in a field that particularly interests you.
If tax attorney jobs are your goal, you may choose to major in accounting. If your goal is to work in the business sector, you should go for a business law major. These are only a few examples of majors because there are many different fields in which you can specialize. However, this is the moment in which you can determine your future career as an attorney.
Additional examples of your future career may be patent attorney jobs, immigration attorney jobs, federal attorney jobs, environmental attorney jobs, civil rights attorney jobs, department of justice attorney jobs, state attorney jobs, and others.
Although a bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for attending law school, it’s a tall order. Before securing your enrollment, you will need to take the Law School Admission Test or LSAT. Your results must satisfy the rigorous entry requirements.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to take the test, you must know that your school choice will be limited. At the same time, there’s a chance your school of choice may not accept your application, making your attorney resume look less desirable.
Finishing your formal education doesn’t mean you’re finished learning altogether. After getting your degree, you’ll need to secure an internship, which will be your first contact with the legal world. Internships for US attorney jobs typically occur in law firms and organizations for a predetermined period, usually during the summer. Acceptance rates are relatively low, and you’ll have to stand out from the crowd to succeed.
After completing your internship, part-time attorney jobs are sometimes the first order of business for candidates. By gaining experience here, the company gets young talent and works with you to teach you the specifics of the job you’ll be performing. Part-time jobs as an attorney are often the very first step in a career.
On the other hand, if you don’t manage to secure an internship, externships may be an option. The entry process and requirements are the same, except that externships happen in agreement with non-profit and government entities. In other words, externships also provide a way to secure non-profit attorney jobs.
No matter what type of practice you choose, it will be an opportunity to hone your skills. What you want to focus on is improving your writing, critical thinking skills, oral skills, and time management. At the same time, you may already want to start searching for “lawyer jobs near me” at that point.
After graduating from law school, gaining entry to your state bar should also be a top priority while searching for entry-level associate attorney jobs. Achieving this goal means you’ll need to undergo an examination that will take two days and test your general knowledge about the law and legal principles. This examination is in the form of essay questions on the first day, and state law specific problems on the second day.
Other areas that you’ll need to cover in this test may include measuring your understanding of professional conduct or an ethics examination. Successfully passing this test doesn’t mean you’ll gain entry to the state bar, but it most certainly increases your chances. In other words, this test is a form of reviewing your character for future attorney job openings.
Lastly, most attorney office jobs in the US will require you to continue taking courses that can further develop your professional skills. Continuous education is a mindset every attorney needs to adopt because learning is an ongoing process.
Skills and Requirements
Keep in mind that while a formal education gives you an excellent basis to become a reliable attorney, it’s the soft skills that help you become a great one. Each of these skills is equally important, even when it comes to alternative jobs for attorneys.
Communication. Being a great communicator is essential in the legal world. An attorney should be able to express thoughts clearly and understandably, both in writing and orally. Since communication is a two-way street, those aiming for a legal career also need to learn to be good listeners and pay attention to details.
Research. To reach a valuable conclusion and build a good case, the attorney needs to have research skills. Jobs for attorneys always include ample research, meaning you have to achieve results using available resources.
Patience. Whether you’re searching “attorney jobs near me” or job positions in other states, patience is the quintessential trait to have as a legal professional. As part of the job description, at some point, things will almost certainly go south. No matter what happens, attorneys need to stay calm and not lose their nerves in front of their clients or juries.
Problem-solving. An attorney has to be able to solve problems quickly because that is what being an attorney means. Sometimes this skill is useful because it will help you solve the problem and determine if there was one in the first place.
Interpersonal skills. The law industry is a service industry, and attorneys are in everyday contact with different people. Being able to show compassion and support their clients is highly beneficial. This skill is always great to have, even in non-law jobs for attorneys.
Attorney jobs have various advantages, but the most appealing ones include a prestigious status, lavish lifestyle, and a good salary. However, observing from a distance, it’s easy to believe that attorneys live a glamorous and stress-free life, as you see on TV. What you don’t see on TV are the downsides of the job—long hours, often working outside the office, challenging clients, and dealing with a lot of pressure.
Before you decide to go down this road, consider all these factors. Job as an attorney can be gratifying, but there are many investments and personal sacrifices you have to make at the same time. However, should you decide you’re willing to pay the price, give your 110%, and success will follow. Good luck!