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SO YOU WANT TO BE A LAWYER?

so-you-want-to-be-a-lawyerYou think you want to be a lawyer, huh?  You don’t.  Trust me.  I say that as someone that not only is a lawyer, but someone who hates lawyers.  Do something else.

Let me guess.  You want to be a lawyer because you don’t like math class, but you don’t want to be a teacher, and you haven’t figured out there are other things to do with your Bachelor of Arts degree?

Or maybe you want to go to grad school, but why waste time and money going for a business degree when you’re just going to be in the mailroom to begin with anyway, right?  I mean, you’re too smart for that.

Of course there is always the classic reason.  You like to argue.  Your momma/ daddy/ girlfriend/ boyfriend/ P.E. teacher/ priest all say you’re really good at arguing.  So is my ex-wife.  She’s no lawyer.

The truth is you want to be a lawyer because it looks cool on TV and you think you can make a lot of money.  Well, you’re right.  It does look good on TV and you can make a lot of money.

Of course, let’s consider this for a second.  Let’s look at what looks good on TV.  Lawyers do.  Doctors do.  Naval Criminal Investigative Service Agents do.  Professional lie detector guys do.  Strippers do.  Mafia bosses do.  A guy from another planet who has super powers and wears a red cape does except when he’s around that strange green rock.  You get the picture.

The truth is if you base your career on what looks good on TV, you’re either too stupid or too smart to be a lawyer.  You figure out which it is.

So you think you can make a lot of money?  Yes.  Or, no.  You see a lot is relative and it also depends on what you lose to get it.  Some people only lose time to gain money.  You spend eight hours completely screwing up my order at Burger King, you still gain about $50 bucks that day.  You spend 2500 billable hours of your life in a year as a lawyer, maybe you lose more, and maybe your gain something.

If money is what you’re seeking, no amount of money will gain you what you really want.  I can’t begin to tell you what you want, but I can tell you that you won’t find it in your paycheck.

There are those that do this for the love and those that do it for the money.  Which do you want to be?  There are also various ways in which you can accomplish your goals in this lofty little notion we call “the law.”  What will you choose?

Gone are the days of Atticus Finch.  The general practitioner is laughed at nowadays.  He doesn’t have the skill to handle this case or that case because he doesn’t spend every waking hour learning the intricacies of this area of law.

So you have to pick the exact kind of law you think you want to practice.  Which shall it be, my lady?  Civil litigation?  Family?  Wills and Estates?  Criminal?  Something more specialized?  They all have their costs and they all have their benefits.

May I offer a modicum of advice?  If you do anything, don’t practice Family law.  Never on the landscape of this planet has there existed a more foul stench than that of the divorce attorney.  There is a special place in hell for Family Law attorneys.

People always complain about criminal defense attorneys, and rightfully so (after all, we suck), but at least we have the scratchy blanket of the constitution to pretend to wrap ourselves in.  Family law attorneys don’t.  They don’t even pretend to.  From carcass to carcass they go, tirelessly looking for that last ounce of blood to suck.

Criminal defense attorneys are generally about ego.  We fight the government.  It’s what we do.  Usually we lose, but sometimes we win, and when we do, we usually look good doing it.  But maybe that’s just me.

As for civil attorneys, well, they are strange.  It’s all about the billable hour.  They rarely set foot in the courtroom and when they do, they try cases with questions to which they already know the answer.  It’s as exciting as watching a TiVo’ed episode of L.A. Law.  For the eighteenth time.  And on top of that, none of them are really that bright.

Don’t get me wrong.  You have to be relatively intelligent to be a lawyer.  And the better ones are smarter than the others.  But strike up a conversation with a lawyer that doesn’t want to talk about himself, and I’ll show you someone who made a bad career choice.

You say you want to be a lawyer?  I ask why.  The years of studying, they never end.  The stress of school continues into practice.  And oh by the way?  You’re never as smart as you think you are.  Take it from the kid who grew up knowing he was always going to be a lawyer.

But what the hell do I know?

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