Job Title: Attorney
Education: AB, Dartmouth College JD, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Previous Experience: I originally was an associate at my current law firm and became a partner after 8 years at the firm. I have been at the firm since graduating from law school, so it's the only real job I have held.
Job Tasks: I work at a 500+ lawyer firm in Philadelphia. Our firm practices in many different areas, such as corporate law, real estate, bankruptcy and litigation. Almost all of the lawyers in the firm specialize in one area of the law. The law is too complex for one person to be able to master all the different legal areas. I am a real estate lawyer. I typically draft and negotiate contracts for the purchase and sale of commercial real estate, such as office buildings and apartment buildings, and also negotiate documents for loans in which our client borrows money from a bank or life insurance company, and I frequently prepare contracts between my clients and architects and contractors.
For example, I have a client that is borrowing $10 million. The client will give the bank a mortgage on the apartment building it owns. A mortgage is a document that provides that the bank may take the apartment building from my client if my client does not repay the loan. The bank would then sell it and use the proceeds to help repay the loan. A mortgage also contains many other provisions that restrict what my client may do with its building. When I review the mortgage that the bank's lawyer prepares, my job is to make sure that those provisions make sense and do not unduly interfere with my client's operation of its building. When I draft a contract with a construction company, I need to make sure that it reflects the business deal my client has struck with the company. I also make sure that the provisions of the contract are not contrary to the laws of my state.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is giving clients advice on legal issues that helps them keep out of trouble. The worst part of the job is the fact most clients want you to finish what you are working on for them as soon as possible. It's just not possible to keep them all happy and meet all of their deadlines.
1. Think about whether you really want to be a lawyer. It's nothing like what you see on TV. You spend a lot of time at your desk reading documents. Most big cases end up settling before they go to trial, so most lawyers don't spend much time in court.
2. Take courses that emphasize writing. The ability to write clearly is essential.
3. Take some time off before going to law school. Law school is intense so a break between college and law school is a good idea.
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