Pros and Cons of Attorney Law

There are many pros to becoming a lawyer. There are also several cons worthy of consideration when pursuing a career practicing law. What exactly are the various pros and cons of becoming a lawyer?

The decision to become a lawyer is an important choice having the potential to shape your life in numerous specific ways. The path is long, as proper education is both an absolute priority and requirement. Gaining adequate experience is also essential, followed by passing an applicable bar examination and being certified to practice in the state issuing your examination.

There are additional professional and personal considerations to take into account. In what type of law are you interested in practicing? What are your potential income levels? Which state is the best in which to both practice and live? How will this decision affect your family, whether current or future? All these questions and more are answered below. Read on for more details about the top pros and cons of becoming a lawyer.

Education Requirements for Becoming a Lawyer

The educational requirements for becoming a lawyer rival those needed to become a doctor. The time involved lasts an average of seven years. This includes four years of undergraduate courses and three years of intense and specific law school courses. The undergraduate programs are sometimes referred to as pre-law courses. Certain undergraduate courses are recommended above others when striving to enter law school. English, History and Mathematics are generally recommended by most sources, as they comprise the basic foundations of a solid advanced education. The order in which additional courses are recommended varies per source, however most of the same courses appear on every list of suggestions. Those recommended courses include:

  • Philosophy

  • Economics

  • Political Science

  • Criminal Justice

  • Arts and Humanities

  • Sociology

  • Legal History

  • Business

  • Public Speaking

  • Government

Further, the majority of states and/or jurisdictions mandate the completion of a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. A degree earned and received from an ABA (American Bar Association) accredited law school is most widely accepted, and definitely most widely respected. Finally, most law schools, and specifically ABA-accredited schools, mandate all prospective students to take a Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This test measures the aptitude of each prospective student for studying law.

Lawyer Certification & Passing the Bar Examination

Once graduated from law school after earning a J.D. degree, a bar examination in your desired state of practice must be passed. Lawyers are commonly limited to practicing law in the state where their bar examination is passed. Multistate bar examinations are available, however, helping lawyers to practice in more than one U.S. state. Each state has its own bar association and requirements for passing also vary per state. A list of bar examination administrators in every U.S. state is available on the ABA website.

Lawyers must also engage in mandatory continued education and a state-specified number of volunteer hours each year after the initial bar examination is passed. Applicable state certification requirements also vary but are necessary in forty-six states to be able to continue practicing law therein. The National Board of Legal Specialty Certification offers specialty certification in various types of law. In a highly competitive career, having more education, experience and options is always a collective benefit.

Top Pros and Cons of Becoming a Lawyer

There are pros and cons to every profession and this remains true for becoming a lawyer. It is easy to think of the earning potential when considering a career in law without thinking of the additional affects this level of commitment has on your life, and potentially the life of your family. The top pros of becoming a lawyer include:

  • Significantly high earning potential.

  • Ability to make a positive societal impact.

  • Rewarding at professional, emotional and personal levels.

  • Ability to build valuable business networks and exit strategies.

  • Potentially expansive career opportunities. 

Becoming a lawyer does have its downsides. Weighing between pros and cons is part of making the best, most educated decisions for your life. The top cons of becoming a lawyer include:

  • Significantly high cost of law school.

  • Occasionally forced to question the ethics of clients and cases.

  • Generally a high-stress job.

  • Strain on family due to time away is potentially damaging to relationships.

  • Highly competitive job market.

Additional Information on the Pros and Cons of Becoming a Lawyer

There is a significantly high earning potential to practicing law. This is perhaps one of the top draws to the profession. The costs of attending law school are also significantly high. While not necessarily negating the income benefits of the profession, paying off law school debt is a major expense.

Many people also become lawyers to make a positive societal impact. Helping the innocent is one of the many ways this is achieved. Providing legal assistance for educational, environmental and other important causes provides a healthy feeling of self-worth in addition to the valuable way in which it serves various communities. There is also a time in most lawyers’ careers where the ethics and motives of clients and cases are questioned. These are challenging times and scenarios to overcome which add extra stress to an already naturally stressful job. 

In addition to said stress, the hours required once becoming a practicing lawyer are quite demanding. Simultaneously, becoming a lawyer is most often professionally, emotionally and personally rewarding. The profession creates the ability to build valuable business networks and exit strategies for retirement perhaps previously unattainable prior to becoming a lawyer. The time away from family, and the strain it creates, has the potential to be damaging to relationships with spouses and children, however.

Finally, there are expansive career opportunities available to those who seek them out and are fortunate enough to earn them. The legal job market is also fiercely competitive, making the actualization of such career opportunities challenging and even exhausting to achieve. There are also well-established and experienced lawyers at the top of many law firms. Those in positions of strength are rarely willing to acquiesce their positions to new lawyers fresh out of law school. Climbing to the top of this profession is a challenge with rewards and tradeoffs unlike most other non-first-responder professions. Understanding the top pros and cons of becoming a lawyer helps you make the best decision pursuant to obtaining the career you desire.