A Lawyer’s Working Conditions

Business

Lawyers tend to enjoy a well-earned career after investing years in education and training as an associate. While the path from law student to a successful lawyer will be different for each person pursuing law, there are numerous similarities in lawyer’s working conditions.

Working Hours

Successful lawyers work hard and put in long hours at the office. It can be expected that lawyers will sacrifice their evenings and weekends to work with clients. This is due to many clients being preoccupied with their own 9 to 5 day jobs and cannot get time off work to visit a lawyer for legal aid.

Salaried lawyers and associates may work according to a structured schedule. They may follow a strict 8 hour work day and only offer more when demands at the office grow.

Private lawyers and solo practitioner typically have irregular working hours. If they have started their own law firm, they will spend more time implementing marketing strategies, writing a blog, conducting research, consulting clients, and preparing documents.

Overall, lawyers may be billing clients 40 to 50 hours per week when they are actually working 55 to 70 hours (or more).

“Seasonal” Lawyers

Seasonal lawyers can be considered as those who provide specialized services at particular periods throughout the year. One example of a seasonal lawyer would be tax lawyers.

However, the work a lawyer provides is not exactly seasonal. Instead, they may experience spikes in the intake of clients and increasing caseloads. During this time, these lawyers may experience greater levels of stress, longer work hours, and higher pay. 

Freelance / Remote Lawyers

Instead of working as a salaried lawyer at a firm, there is the possibility of becoming a freelance or remote lawyer. These kinds of lawyers find various contracts by working with established firms and agencies.

Freelance lawyers have much more flexibility with their time and client caseloads. They can have their own office or they can work from the comfort of their own home.

The range of opportunities is greater for freelance lawyers which allows them to work in various jurisdictions. Since they will be working with attorneys at an establish firm, they are the ones who sign off and finalize documents which the freelance lawyer assisted on.

24/7 Access 

In some cases, lawyers may have to provide 24/7 on-call access. Depending on the demands of the case, clients may require contact with their lawyers to help handle their particular situation. Offering 24/7 access to a lawyer is common for high-profile cases and not typically provided by most firms.

However, in order for some law firms to remain competitive, there are 24/7 services that provides access to lawyers at any time of the day. This is particularly useful for intaking new clients who may call an office for information when it is urgent for them to find an answer. There is a list of outsourcing solutions for lawyers that allows law firms to have round the clock access.

Relationship Demands

Lawyers are expected to have strong interpersonal skills since they will be working with clients dealing with a wide range of emotional and personal situations.

Clients coming into an office may be angry, unhappy, or emotional upset because of their legal situation. Depending on how a lawyer communicates with their clients, it could make the difference between another successful case or an unfortunate pursuit of malpractice.

Having the social skills are critical for a lawyer to maintain their practice. Lawyers will spend a significant amount of time communicating with their clients. They will use the telephone, e-mail, memos, letters, and other forms of communications to rely on information to their clients and other legal professionals.

Expectations and Responsibilities

Lawyers have demanding working conditions requiring attention to details, precision with communications, and attentive decision making. If there’s an error in a lawyers judgment or action, it could result in delays and improper rulings in the courtroom.

Lawyers are greatly responsible for the outcome of their client’s case, which ultimately affects their lives and reputations. In some cases, lawyers are solely responsible for the decisions they make which can have an overall impact on a firm. If firm’s don’t agree with their lawyer’s decision making or if it jeopardizes the profitability and ethics of a firm, lawyer’s can lose their jobs.

The workload for lawyers requires intensive research and investigation. Lawyers are expected to perform the same mental tasks in and out of the office. They may also have to follow a dress code.

In The Courtroom

When a lawyer goes to court, they serve as the representative of their client; they provide advice to their clients; they explain the legal rights, obligations, and appropriate actions; they are an advocate of law and assert their client’s position; they negotiate terms and ensure an honest outcome; they evaluate evidence and structure compelling arguments; they write reports and summaries of the outcomes of their client’s legal affairs.

Lawyers going to court must act professionally and provide prompt support to their clients. In these situations, tensions can be high because rulings can completely alter a client’s life. While a lawyer may serve as a beacon of hope for their clients, they must also adhere to the Rules of Professional Conduct outlined by the American Bar Association (ABA) and protect themselves from being sued from malpractice.

Competition

Lawyers experience a significant amount of competition throughout their career. It begins with law school, competing to enter some of the best law schools in the country. Those who get into those schools have a greater chance of landing a job at a high-paying firm.

If a lawyer does get hired as an associate, they must learn their trade while also proving useful to the firm. If an associate is offered to become a partner, they not only receive more legal work which provides more money, but they also hold greater responsibility regarding the profitability of the firm.

Law firms are constantly competing for clients in their district. Having the right marketing strategy can make all the difference for those lawyers that succeed and those that close office after a year or two of practice.