How do you know if you should become a lawyer?
If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in becoming a lawyer. It is a fascinating career but can also be challenging, so it’s important to consider the pros and cons to life as a lawyer, before deciding if it’s right for you. Here are some factors to consider.
Good communication skills
Regardless of whether you want to become a solicitor or a barrister, good communication skills are vital to succeed as a lawyer. Solicitors need to communicate efficiently with their clients, explaining complex legal issues in a way that they can understand. Barristers need to successfully argue their client’s case, and keep their cool even during tense moments.
If you feel like your communication skills are lacking, this doesn’t mean you can’t become a lawyer. However, you should try and improve these skills. For instance, you could join your university’s debating or mock trial team, or take up a leadership role in a society that interests you.
To understand whether law suits you, it’s important to get some practical legal experience. This allows you to encounter law first-hand, instead of reading about it from a textbook. For instance, you may dream about life as a solicitor, but after work experience realise you prefer a more physical role.
Why not head down to a law firm on your local high street and ask if they have any shadowing opportunities? While it’s difficult to get similar experience from a larger firm, many city firms hold insight days for those interested in law. Not only does this allow you to learn more about the daily responsibilities of a lawyer, but it shows firms that you’re genuinely interested in them, increasing your likelihood of securing a vacation scheme or training contract.
Other ways to gain legal experience include joining your university’s mock trial or mooting society and attending public court proceedings.
Critical thinking skills
To be a lawyer, it’s important to know how to think critically. This means that you can make clear, reasoned judgements about situations, by assessing evidence from a range of sources. Critical thinking can be difficult to get your head around at first, but it’s easy to practice.
You could try reading opinion pieces in the newspaper, thinking about the main arguments presented, how the authors came to their conclusions and whether the evidence presented is robust. You could also try watching debates, but always remember to set your own personal biases aside.
Life as a lawyer can be difficult. You won’t always win your cases. Law school takes a long time and is expensive. Working hours may stretch to late at night or even weekends.
Perseverance is therefore vital: you have to know how to pick yourself back up when things get tough. Think about how you’ve handled difficult situations in the past, did you keep going or did you give up quickly?
If you have a disability, you shouldn’t let that deter you from your interest in law. Under the Equality Act 2010, your employer is legally required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to your working environment, to ensure you have the same experience as those without disabilities.
Examples of these adjustments include: making aptitude tests more accessible, adjusting your working hours or providing you with additional equipment. Many large law firms even have groups for minority groups such as those with disabilities, to celebrate their disabilities and discuss how the firm can be more accessible.
Hopefully this has allowed you to think more about if you should become a lawyer. And you shouldn’t feel disheartened if you’ve now realised that you wouldn’t enjoy being a solicitor or a barrister: there are so many different careers in the legal sector that you might prefer.
Becoming a Lawyer