When someone introduces himself or herself as a lawyer, many pictures come to mind. One might envision a glamorous career and many hours spent in court making witty comments and earning lots of money. TV shows and movies give people the wrong idea about legal life which involves a lot of paperwork, waiting months and years for resolution, and regular changes to the system in which one works. Moreover, no one is just a “lawyer.” Professionals choose precise areas in which to practice law.
Areas in Which to Practice
Are you pursuing a legal career? If so, the field is vast. Participants select specialized subject areas such as corporate law, personal injury, or criminal law. Even within these fields, there are numerous options. Family lawyers handle the estates of deceased individuals and are called in when a “Last Will and Testament” is contested. They might handle cases of legal custody in which two parents are fighting against each other, or a mother wants her kids to come home after many months in foster care. Corporate lawyers deal with take-overs and taxes. Criminal law might involve rape, murder, theft, or DUI. Some are retained to oversee the writing of complex documents and are actually employed by a single, large corporation. Most professionals, however, work for law firms specifically and defend or prosecute cases involving traffic violations or theft.
There are two types of crime in a general sense: felonies and misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are minor crimes. Felonies are major incidents. Some DUI arrests are considered minor because there were no injuries or damages caused. Others become crimes when a person is injured or killed.
Violence involving weapons will be classified as a felony, but in a situation like this, there are mitigating factors such as use of drugs, the age of a defendant, and self-defense arguments. Crime is rarely clear-cut. That’s why the law states that one is innocent until he or she is found guilty in a court of law. Attorneys must not become emotionally involved either; a difficult but necessary feature of the profession when one is handling emotionally-charged cases.
Society and Complications
Public opinion is often a curse to lawyers who would rather a case not be tried by soapbox judges. They always are; society weighs in on every case and pronounces judgment without the benefit of every fact. That’s a part of life, but this can still hinder the chances that one will receive a fair trial. Innocent men and women go to jail all the time, sometimes because of bias, but also because lawyers lack experience. The system isn’t perfect, which is why professors and professionals continue to study their field and to discuss changes as they become necessary.
One will always be asked to provide evidence of experience in order to obtain work in any professional field. On-the-job training isn’t acceptable where legal cases are concerned, and clients expect their attorneys to be prepared. After passing the bar, new graduates do not tackle cases alone. They work in legal offices where they do much of the leg work and all of the jobs that are relatively low-skill. Their supervisor, the lawyer in charge, teaches them a great deal along the way and then gain experience before eventually hanging out a shingle and operating independently or becoming partners in large firms with those firms’ reputation to back them. One’s earliest days aren’t highly-paid, and glamor is rarely a part of legal life.
Unless you find a lawyer sympathetic to your case, he is unlikely to reduce fees because your case is strong. Cases involving the pursuit of a financial outcome, such as payment of medical expenses following personal injury, usually start out with an agreement that the lawyer will only take payment if he wins. This individual, however, will not bet his mortgage on a case that can’t be won or which is shaky at best. One chooses a representative, but there is no guarantee he will see validity in a client’s case. Also, there will always be extra fees not covered even in the case of a win. Expect to pay something, and be prepared to pay by the hour. Don’t waste a lawyer’s time. He is working hard to keep your case out of court if he can. It’s cheaper and tidier to reach an agreement over a boardroom table.