Job Title: Attorney
Type of Company: We provide legal services for various clients in the areas of domestic matters, municipal law, land use law, consumer protection cases, insurance claims negligence cases and probate/estate law
Education: BA, Economics, Boston College JD, Boston College Law School
Previous Experience: I worked as an intern in a large Boston law firm while in law school, then served for four years with the United States Navy as a JAG, or base legal officer, at a large naval air base.
Job Tasks: My role is as a managing partner. Most of my days are involved with work on specific cases within my realm of expertise. I meet directly with clients, discussing the issues with them and deciding how to resolve them and when -- trying to schedule our future proceedings. A good portion of the day is set aside for research work on pending matters, but some days require court appearances or meetings or hearings outside of the office. There is no set schedule.
Days in fact can be quite different. Many times matters are presented without advance notice and the anticipated schedule has to be jettisoned. The profession, like all professions, requires you to adjust to outside forces. As a managing partner I am also required to oversee the work of others in the firm, including support staff (legal assistants, secretaries, etc.) Many days last into the evening as most municipal hearings occur after normal work days are over. The legal profession can be very rewarding and sometimes very frustrating as you do not control your schedule or the outcome of your cases. However, the ability to help others offers a great incentive to complete the work to the absolute best that you can.
An attorney's role can vary greatly. Many lawyers never enter a court room but provide guidance to clients for projects and programs that are extremely important to society, to business and to the protection of individual rights. There are cases that take years of preparation and some that require less than a few hours, but they are all of equal importance to your client. Lawyers who do practice in the courts are required to think quickly, react to the unexpected and be prepared to answer questions without time for additional research. That is why preparation is so important. You have to take the time to prepare even when the case before you may appear simple or trivial. Research, reading and retention of previous experiences all go into the mix for good preparation and, with luck, a just result.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part is helping others achieve a goal. Assisting those who cannot take the necessary steps to protect their individual or collective rights, receiving a winning decision after many hours of work and effort are very satisfying.
However, there are many times when the result is not what you excepted or hoped for. Dealing with a defeat can be difficult, as can dealing with an unreasonable client or opponent. There are many people whom you cannot control and they have the ability to decide an issue in what, to you, are unfavorable terms. Sometimes they are not as reasonable or as pleasant as you'd hope and you have to be able to deal with their decisions in a professional way, without personal animosity.
Job Tips: If you are interested in a career as a lawyer, take history, economics, writing, political science and philosophy courses. If you prefer the math field, take some accounting courses. The profession is very diverse. There are many areas of specialization -- tax law, immigration, municipal, probate, insurance, trial work -- and you will discover with experience where you are most comfortable.
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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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