Job Title: Attorney
Type of Company: I am a solo practitioner focusing on civil litigation, estate planning and legal research, and I do writing for other attorneys.
Education: BA, History and American Studies, Brandeis University JD, Law, Boston College Law School
Previous Experience: I started as an associate in a law firm and worked there for about two years, switching briefly to a new firm which laid me off after only nine weeks. I then landed a job at a small suburban law firm and worked there for four years before opening my own firm.
Job Tasks: I am an attorney. I help people with civil litigation -- basically any non-criminal lawsuit. If you hired a contractor to redo your bathroom, for example, and after he was done all the tile cracked and the tub was crooked and you wanted to sue him for damages, I could help you to do that. I work for both plaintiffs and defendants -- though never, of course, in the same lawsuit.
There is no typical day for a lawyer. One day, I'll research a legal issue for a while, have a telephone conversation with a client about strategy, draft a memorandum of law to give to a judge. Another day, I might well go to court, attend a deposition or meet with a client.
I also help people with estate planning. Estate planning involves helping people prepare wills for the most part, but it also helps them prepare documents which are effective while they're living. For example, a durable power of attorney directs one or more people to take care of a person's financial affairs in the event of, say, a car accident that prevents him from doing so himself. Another document, a health care proxy does the same thing but for health care. I also help people maximize their estate tax deductions.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I love working for myself and most days I love being a lawyer. I like that I am always meeting new people and that I am always learning something new, either about a client's business or about a substantive aspect of the law.
The hardest part about being a lawyer is the stress. Sometimes lawyers on the other side are not very civil. This makes litigating about the merits of the case very challenging.
1. Don't go to law school just to avoid getting into the job market. Law school is not easy. You really need to want to go.
2. Go to the best law school you can get into.
3. Big firms have great salaries, but the hours are very long and hard.
Additional Thoughts: I've always worked in smaller firms. The big firms do have the perks besides their salary. The network of friendships and acquaintances you develop, even if you decide to leave, is worth a lot. You should think long and hard about where you want to go with your career and not just try and get any job.
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The Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law is a regionally accredited nonprofit law school. Our school is accredited by both the Western Association of Schools & Colleges Senior College and University Commission and the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California.
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