There is something impressive about being a lawyer. It has an air of power to it, and everybody knows lawyers make a great deal of money. Even if you have never read a John Grisham novel, you know that lawyers are almost a breed apart. Old-fashioned parents want their sons to become lawyers and their daughters to marry one. But why do people choose to study law? It is a dry subject that takes many years to complete, and once you are ready to sit and pass the Bar (if you pass it), you will have to work very hard for a very long time to get anywhere. After all, almost nobody becomes a partner overnight and most lawyers have to spend a long time working pro bono, for very little money.
Not just that, established lawyers like Peter Howe will tell you that studying and practicing law is incredibly stressful and leaves you in a high pressured environment. You hold the responsibility for someone’s life and livelihood in your hands, regardless of the type of law your practice, and that is a significant burden to shoulder. So why do some people decide to become a lawyer, particularly when you consider they don’t know for sure that they will become successful?
Most Common Reasons for Someone to Become a Lawyer
There are a number of reasons for people to become a lawyer, some of which are positive and some not so much. They include:
- The money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a lawyer in this country is $118,160, which is a significant figure. Consider that the top 10% earn $208,000 per year or more, and it becomes clear that the money is indeed very good.
- The snob appeal. Lawyers are prestigious, respected individuals. They instantly have a lot of status and become someone whom others look up to.
- The challenges. Having to use your brain to find old cases, to understand laws, to investigate situations, and to come up with positive resolutions, is a fantastic thing to do. This is particularly true because of the responsibility as well: get it wrong, and someone will stand to lose out on a lot.
- They are pressured into it. It is undeniable that many people become a lawyer because their parents were lawyers before them.
- A genuine desire to change the world. Lawyers are social justice advocates, and that is perhaps the best motivation for this particular profession.
Being a lawyer means earning a lot of money, but it equally means working very hard. Sleepless nights worrying about whether or not you’ve overlooked something and the utter devastation you will feel when you lose a case, are both hard to deal with. The elation when you win, on the other hand, will make it all seem worthwhile again. But you must be realistic about the struggles and challenges before you decide that the profession is for you. Only if you are sure that you want to make a difference to society, regardless of the six figure income and the prestige, should you really go for it.