If you’ve been watching Law & Order or any of its franchises and thought you have an idea about how a lawyer’s day typically goes, you may want to think again. That’s not to say that lawyers do not enjoy their jobs as much as the ones you see on TV. There is more to being a lawyer than delivering impassioned speeches to the jury or hunting down suspects or joining the police on a stakeout (the last two are not even part of a lawyer’s job). A lawyer’s day may not be as glamorous as the lawyers on TV, but it is not dull. Simply put, there is no “typical” day for a lawyer.
One of the most important attributes that a lawyer must have is adaptability. Have you ever had a day when you had everything planned out up to the last minute? Thirty minutes for this task, an hour for that task, and then all of a sudden, an urgent duty comes up, and you need to abandon your well-planned schedule completely? That is what a typical day for a lawyer is. As much as lawyers would like to plan all of the things that they need to do for a day at the office, sudden calls from clients, important documents that need reviewing, and sometimes canceled court appearances pop out of nowhere and the day that they’ve planned has gone awry. That’s why being able to adapt to any situation is one of the most important qualities that a lawyer must have.
Although lawyers do appear in front of a judge and jury, it’s not as glamorous as you might think. Sometimes lawyers have to wait for hours inside the courthouse before they meet a judge to hear their case, something that you never see when you watch legal dramas on TV where lawyers go into a courthouse and get an immediate hearing inside the courtroom. There will be times when a judge would issue a continuance, making the lawyer’s trip to the courthouse all for nothing. A postponement of the case would also mean that the lawyer would have to explain to a client why their case is taking longer to finish.
The clients are the number one priority for lawyers. Maintaining a good client relationship is essential for any law firm and the responsibility of taking care of the client and making sure that they are happy with the service they are getting rests on the shoulder of the firm’s lawyers. Taking client calls or attending scheduled client meetings can take a chunk of the lawyer’s time, and unexpected calls from a client is pretty much a staple in a lawyer’s daily routine.
A lawyer’s routine also includes research… lots and lots of research. You barely get to see any research time when you watch legal dramas on TV, what you usually see are “Eureka! moments” and although this may happen from time to time in real life, extensive research about the case, precedents, and statutes is what wins a case. A lawyer, especially one who’s going to trial, spends the majority of their day inside their office reading and taking detailed notes that they can use to help improve their case.
So why do lawyers love doing their jobs? It sounds like it takes a lot of work and it’s not as glamorous as Hollywood would like you to think. Different lawyers will have different answers. Some may say that getting a favorable outcome for a case gives them a great sense of achievement. Some may say that it’s fulfilling because it’s a dynamic profession that requires a different set of skills every day. Some may say that it’s because they were able to change a client’s life for the better. Whatever the reason may be, it’s best to remember that it takes a lot of work to become a good lawyer.
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