Reasons to become a lawyer (with skills to succeed in law)
Updated 30 September 2022
A career as a lawyer can be a rewarding choice of profession that offers great earning potential and career progression. It's a prestigious and intellectually challenging profession with great scope for specialisation. As a lawyer, you have a thorough knowledge of the law and use a range of skills to succeed in the legal sector. In this article, we outline some reasons why you might consider this career choice and list key skills for success.
Reasons to become a lawyer
A career in law is a promising career path and a popular choice for aspiring graduates, and there are valid reasons to becoming a lawyer. To answer the question 'Is law a good career?', we outline the reasons for this choice below:
The base salary for a lawyer is well above the national average. The salary usually increases according to a lawyer's experience and the location, size and specialism of the employer. Lawyers in large companies or legal practices in city locations usually earn the highest salaries. Lawyers tend to receive excellent benefit packages, including private healthcare, pension schemes, life insurance and corporate gym memberships.
Lawyers are in a great position to make a real difference in society and people's lives. They can offer legal advice and services to a range of individuals and groups, including vulnerable individuals on low incomes. They share their expertise in a range of settings and can lead legal causes to benefit society. Lawyers often engage in research to find solutions to complex legal issues.
The employment outlook for lawyers is good, and demand is growing fast, especially for in-house lawyers. As companies seek ongoing and immediate advice for new legislation that might affect them, in-house lawyers have become increasingly valuable. The digitisation of businesses means cybersecurity, and online privacy concerns have prompted the need for legal counsel on emerging technology issues and employment law. Family lawyers are also in demand as higher divorce rates and rising trends for prenuptial agreements require legal advice.
There is an interesting range of specialisms available. While lawyers may practise general law, they might choose a niche area in which to specialise. While family law, civil criminal law, employment law and corporate law are core specialisms, the acceleration of digitisation in recent years has entailed the need for updates in all specialisms and a greater demand for entertainment law and technology experts.
Another reason to become a layer is that there are great opportunities for career advancement in the legal field. Lawyers often progress into more senior positions within a practice or company. Solicitors might consider qualifying for advocacy roles and representing clients in court. Lawyers might aspire to become Queen's Counsel (QC) experts or take on judiciary roles, with experience. They might also opt to start their own private practice, go into research or take on a lecturing role.
Related: How to become a judge
While there has always been great potential for lawyers to build up their own practices, the recent increase in remote working has brought about unprecedented changes in the legal profession. Lawyers have provided alternative, remote services to clients, and courts have conducted proceedings online. An online presence has become a priority for lawyers and legal firms, while new technologies and digital management platforms have boosted virtual law firms and facilitated flexible working patterns for solicitors. Many lawyers have opted to work freelance to sustain flexibility and a better work-life balance.
Lawyers might find themselves working in various environments, depending on their professional interests and specialisms. Traditionally, lawyers work in legal practices, companies, government offices and non-profit organisations. They often spend time in courts and legal libraries. While some companies and organisations are formal and hierarchical, there has been an increase in legal workplaces that have a more relaxed attitude to dress code and flexible working.
Working as a lawyer is an influential role that can gain respect and status within communities. Success within the career can earn high professional recognition. Lawyers act as intermediaries for their clients, explain the law and protect clients' legal rights. With their impressive levels of education, lawyers have an authority that can promote social change and are often key policymakers.
Lawyers often develop a diverse range of skills easily transferable to other careers if they seek an alternative profession. Their years of study, research and experience may lead to successful careers in research, academia, managerial and consultancy roles. Lawyers gain a lifetime of listening and social interaction skills, which they can use in any profession where building relationships is important. Their analytical and problem-solving skills are essential in any business.
What skills does a lawyer need?
While a career as a lawyer is enriching, it can be a fast-paced, demanding role that presents unique challenges. Successful lawyers require core skills that they can develop throughout their careers. Here are some essential lawyer skills:
Verbal communication skills
This is likely the most important skill for lawyers to master. Barristers present credible arguments in court to convince a judge or jury of the strengths of their case. Their role entails a lot of public speaking. Solicitors constantly engage with clients, communicate with paralegals and team members and organise appointments, so clear and open communication skills are a priority. A high level of accuracy is essential in the legal field, and clear communication reduces misunderstandings.
Written communication skills
Lawyers write letters, draft documents and compile reports and contracts daily. Impeccable grammar and a fluent style gain confidence and credibility from clients and associates. Clear, accurate writing is also an effective way to keep records intact and easily accessible. An online presence is important, and writing good-quality content is an effective way to attract business.
This is an essential skill in most jobs today, and lawyers often work in legal teams and collaborate with others. Listening to the contributions of others and delegating work where possible can lead to more efficient working. Lawyers who work for themselves communicate with secretaries, barristers and court attendants and rely on input from other specialists. Building good relationships can be key to successful working. Positive relationships with team members and legal experts help to make networking easier and may assist a lawyer in gaining more work.
Integrity is at the heart of the legal system and a successful lawyer demonstrates professional integrity at work, at all times. Lawyers are under scrutiny, which means that this skill is highly important for lawyers who wish to build and maintain a good reputation. Trust is essential for clients, and a good legal practice demonstrates a consistent commitment to upholding the law and acting in clients' best interests.
A lawyer often encounters complex issues to solve to achieve positive results for clients. Lawyers identify the problems, evaluate them and offer solutions that are not always obvious. Negotiating with other parties and presenting an argument clearly are all key elements of problem-solving. A solicitor requires patience to create an effective solution to a problem and often requires a few alternatives if it's a complex issue.
Attention to detail
This is a key skill in the legal profession. Attention to detail can detect inconsistencies in client accounts and witness reports. A lawyer is responsible for reading or writing clauses and contracts, and a word out of context can change the entire meaning. When talking to clients, knowing every detail of the case helps lawyers understand the situation thoroughly and get the best possible outcome for the client.
Lawyers use their judgement and knowledge of the law to generate creative ways to overcome obstacles that impact their clients. Evaluating dilemmas and looking critically at solutions are tasks that lawyers complete on a daily basis.
Willingness to update existing skills
While lawyers' core skills and competencies are constant, updating their skills means they can stay up to date regarding technological developments and remain competitive, given the ever-increasing digitisation of business. Technology has brought positive changes to the legal industry, facilitating smoother, more efficient ways of working and benefiting all companies and legal practices. To succeed in the digital age, mastering tools and techniques like video conferencing, database software, electronic research and filing systems is advantageous for lawyers today.
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