When I started out in law school I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer. My parents had kind of forced me into the matter because my brother was a successful lawyer. They saw that he made good money and always talked a good game about his job. Naturally, they thought this would be the perfect match for me too. My brother even offered to help me get into law school and find a job later. Like any other young, clueless person, I took their advice and went on to study law at a local university. I can say now that I really didn’t know what I was getting into.
The First Year of Law
As I sat in my first class (contracts) I knew that law was not my forte. I had no understanding of what was going on and I felt like I was being taught in an foreign language. Then I talked to some of my classmates and they felt the same way. This helped me feel a little better because I wasn’t the only one trying to swim in a tumultuous ocean. As I got into more classes, I felt more of the same, but I kind of felt like I was on a team. My other classmates talked about difficulties they had in school and we all agreed to stick it out together. My brother told me the first year is the hardest and that it would get better, but I had a hard time accepting advice from someone who had always been at the top of the class. I decided deep down inside that I would keep on trucking and try to make the best of it.
My Second Year
I scraped by my first year with mediocre grades and hoped for better during the second year. My second year is when I really started to like law school because I was allowed to take some elective courses. I settled on some family law classes and also took one in medical malpractice law. These subjects were ones that I could relate to, and they made studying a lot easier. By the end of the year I felt like I was getting into the swing of things and I started making better marks too.
The Last Year
My final year was marked by a lot of stress and anxiety. I still hadn’t found a job, and the state bar was on the horizon. I had a few possible job leads with local non-profit agencies, but the problem is that they didn’t pay well. I had accumulated many years of student loans over the years as well as credit card debt. I was looking at a life of paying back debt instead of enjoying the fruits of my labors if I could even find a job. Not to mention that if I didn’t score well on the bar, I wouldn’t even have a job to pay back all the money! I tried to stay positive and kept on studying while looking for work in the meantime.
When bar time came, I felt I did a good job. I was relieved to find out that I actually passed when the results came in a few years later. I got a job helping a local lawyer for a modest wage, but I was just happy I got anything at all! After a few years I was able to transition into a bigger firm and I got a significant increase in my salary. I was finally able to take some vacations and buy a new car! I felt at this point that the law career was paying off, and I was happy to be involved in the profession. Fast forward to today, I am still practicing as a solo practitioner, which gives me a lot of freedom and allows me to keep more money for myself. In the next few articles I will share some info about how to maximize your profits in the law business and pitfalls to avoid.
Law seems like a dreadful profession at first, but you have to give it time. Law school is just a primer (however painful it is) to help you understand the overall scheme of law. Once you graduate and get out into the field, you can actually work in an area that you enjoy. This makes the practice of law a lot more interesting. Now, I am happy to discuss my job with my family and friends. I hear a lot of lawyer jokes along the way, but it’s all in fun! If you are interested in pursuing a career in law, I say go for it! Just be sure that you have your finances together so you don’t spend your life trapped in debt and despair.