10 Reasons Not To Become A Lawyer
Law degree courses are one of the most popular options for school-leavers. A career as a lawyer is seen as lucrative, glamorous and exciting. However, it’s not all a bed of roses; here are ten drawbacks that might make you think twice about chasing that wig and gown.
Practicing law is one of the most stressful occupations on the planet. The hours are long and often antisocial; clients can be very demanding, tight deadlines are taken as the ‘norm’. Add to this constantly changing legislation, law school debt and billing pressures and you have a recipe for stress.
Today’s lawyers work longer and harder than ever before and working weeks in excess of 50 hours and more are not uncommon. Large law practices are often global operations and this means that fee earners must accommodate clients who live in different time zones. You can find yourself on-call 24/7 on billing hours and on top of this you will be expected to spend time on client development and other business related activities. Many lawyers complain that their work-life balance is totally out of whack.
3. Lack of job satisfaction
Despite the years of study and work to achieve their career dream, many lawyers complain of a lack of job satisfaction. Suicide and depression are not uncommon among lawyers and a staggering 40 percent told and American Bar Association survey that they would not recommend a legal career to a school-leaver.
4. Law school debt
A law degree can cost you up to $43,000 every year, and that’s for a course at an average college. Six figure debts are not unheard of and in today’s job market where opportunities are scarce, new graduates can really struggle to repay what they owe.
5. Job market competition
Despite a downturn in job market and a drop in the number of job opportunities for lawyers, hopeful students still queue for a place on law school courses. Graduates face an uphill struggle to secure a job. In the face of an economic downturn, even major law firms have cut staff and dropped salaries and disillusioned grads are even changing careers altogether.
6. Client pressure
Just like every business in this time of economic recession, clients are curbing their spending on legal fees. Gone are the days of billing in excess of inflation rates; clients are now demanding more “bang for their buck”.
The market now insists that tasks which could be carried out more cheaply by paralegals or other professionals are taken away from expensive lawyers.
7. Changing legal paradigms
Largely thanks to the internet, the practice of law is changing. Legal self-help websites abound and virtual law offices are springing up daily. Lawyers no longer have the monopoly on the business of dispensing legal expensive advice and for the first time have serious competition.
Gone are the days of quill and ledger. Today’s lawyers must become fully conversant with new technology from billing software to document review and management tools. Jobs are under threat too from a new wave of technological legal services which are able to deliver services and advice more cheaply and efficiently than lawyers.
9. Outsourcing of legal process
Just like telecommunications and banking, legal work is being outsourced overseas. Workers abroad can provide legal services far more cheaply than traditional lawyers at home and as a result, opportunities are dwindling.
10. Public image
Unfortunately, lawyers do have a poor public image and are probably in the same ball park as estate agents in the popularity stakes. Perceptions of overcharging, frivolous lawsuits and dodgy dealings do nothing to raise the public profile of the legal profession.
A career in the legal profession may not be what it was even a decade ago and if you are seriously considering embarking on a law degree, it might be worth giving some thought to these observations before you sign on the dotted line.