Sunday, March 3, 2013

Should You Go To Law School To Become a Trial Lawyer?

There are many reasons people go to law school, some make sense to me and others do not.  Some people come from a long line of lawyers and are expected to go.  That was not my case.  Some people want prestige, status, bragging rights, whatever will satisfy their egos. Unfortunately, I cannot claim those things mean nothing to me, but I am working on them.

Here are my top ten reasons to embark on the costly (in law school and in effort post-law school) path of being a trial lawyer:

You get satisfaction from helping another person or serving a cause. 

You love to have your creativity juices flowing - in looking at the story of your client's case.  In essence, you are creative.  

You are logical.  Law, even scientific laws or principles, are inherently logical. You like working out puzzles and billing logical stories. 

You are willing to take significant risks.  When you are a trial lawyer, each case is a contest.  You must be willing to fight for your client and sometimes that means losing. A 400 batting average is great in baseball but piss-poor for a trial lawyer.  Your ego, and oftentimes your livelihood is on the line. And in every case, your duty is to your client first. 

You are empathetic and a good listener.  I could write on an on about he importance of compassion, not just for your client, but for all participants in the litigation process. If you just want to talk because of your tremendous ego, and you won't listen to others, you will have a hard time as a lawyer. 

You are introspective. You know what makes you tick so you don't get your emotions confused. You have to know and understand yourself before you can become empathetic. Knowing yourself can take a lot of work. 

You are persistent, with thick skin. Sometimes it can take 6 or 7 years to win a case, after appeals and whatnots. You cannot take things personally. You must be able to be above the fray to stay cool. 

You are a self-starter.  This is part of the risk taking.  The best part, and perhaps the worst part of being a trial lawyer is you are likely to be your own boss or bring in your own cases. If you love not having a boss,  trial lawyer be the job for you. 

You enjoy speaking in public.  You have guts when you need to have them. You are willing to challenge authority. 

You enjoy learning about new things and you love to read. Laws evolve. Cases can be about mechanics, pharmaceuticals, professional malpractice.  The law can be a fascinating place.  It can also be boring and stale. You need to be willing to take on the exciting jobs, even if they may pay less.

Notice,I didn't mention money. As a lawyer, you have the opportunity to make a lot of money.  But, there are a lot easier ways to make money. If money is what motivates you, become a defense contractor or investment banker. It will be less confusing. 


  1. Sent to my son who just finished his Master's in Philosophy at Georgia State and is going to start law school there. Thanks. I hope he finds this useful.

  2. great article, thank you Lynne