You’ve been working for years toward building a strong GPA and getting into law school, so you might not want to hear about some of the disadvantages of a law career. In 2013, Forbes reported a list of the jobs with the unhappiest people. Number one...associate attorney. Why are attorneys miserable? Reasons vary from person to person; here are four disadvantages of being a lawyer.
1) Lawyers work long, long hours.
While there are some lawyers out there who enjoy a 30 hour week in the office and another 10 hours a week on the golf course, this kind of schedule is rare.
- Depending on your specialty, you may be required to work as much as an 80 hour week as a new associate.
- Even once you’re an established lawyer, your income is often determined by hours billed. Which means that the more you work, the more money you make.
- Lawyers in private practice have overhead, which means even more billable hours required to make a profit.
- Lawyers frequently get calls from frantic clients during evening and weekend hours.
- Law isn’t a job you leave at the office; many lawyers think about their cases and clients during their “time off.”
2) Lawyers don’t make as much money as you might think.
Sure, law can be a lucrative field. But there are some considerations:
- Students from private law schools borrow an average of $124,950. Those student loans must be paid back.
- Some law specialties are saturated. Even lawyers get laid off. Some lawyers find it difficult to obtain jobs.
- Overhead such as advertising, office space, insurance and support staff can be expensive and eats away your profits.
3) Lawyers sometimes deal with clients they don’t like.
You don’t always get to choose who you work with. Sometimes your clients or colleagues will make your life miserable. Here are a few examples:
- Criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to fighting injustice and ensuring that everyone gets a fair trial, but they often find themselves representing unsavory, violent clients.
- Corporate litigation attorneys occasionally deal with greedy, ethically-challenged clients.
- Prosecutors work with exhausted public defenders, jaded police officers and judges and even receive death threats from defendants.
- Family law attorneys sometimes see the worst side of their clients as they fight about money, custody and who gets the antique sofa table.
4) Lawyers work in an adversarial atmosphere
It’s a cutthroat career; someone’s always ready to catch you making a mistake (and to point it out to everyone present).
- Every case you work has opposing counsel; his or her job is to oppose your every move.
- By their very nature, cases are adversarial: one party is angry at the other.
- In court, if you make a mistake, the opposing attorney will jump to his feet to point out your error and object. Being publicly humiliated is a common occurrence.
- Sometimes you’ll lose cases that you feel strongly about, or worked long hours to win.