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Questions From a Student Interested in a Law Career

Discussion in 'Law School & Careers in Law' started by WhisperingHorse, Feb 2, 2015.

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  1. WhisperingHorse

    WhisperingHorse Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I have been interested in pursuing college and a career as a constitutional attorney for several years. Recently, I received an assignment in school to write a research paper on any career in which I was interested; naturally, I chose to research and write about being an attorney. As one component of the project, I am supposed to have these three questions answered by someone in the field. As I am also trying to learn more about whether or not a career as an attorney would be suitable for me, I was wondering if someone on this forum would be able to answer them (whether they specialize in constitutional law or any other area).

    1. What specific kinds of work do you do?
    2. What do you like and dislike about the job?
    3. What advice would you give to someone interested in a career in this field?

    Also, I've talked with some local lawyers before who have encouraged me to pursue patent or criminal law and discouraged me from pursuing constitutional law, as they've said that that career mostly entails work with appellate courts. Are there any specific advantages to patent or criminal law as opposed to constitutional law?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    1. What specific kinds of work do you do?

    As with my jobs, vocations, trades, and professions, no day was ever the same.

    Most of my practice I spent in the area of criminal justice.
    I also dabbled in family law, but found that too depressing.
    The majority of my legal life was spent serving as a JAG in the army.
    The army tasked me to be a criminal defense attorney, prosecutor, and I spent the last 10 years of my career as a military judge.
    I was also assigned for a couple years in the area of contracts.
    Some of your time is also spent assisting, then overseeing seeing to the heal affairs of military members and their dependents. During that time, you write wills, and advise on legal matters.

    I've also done some private practice mostly in criminal law.
    I was selected to serve the remaining tremor a Justice of the Peace.
    Texas JPs also serve as coroners.
    I found that aspect of the job to be eye opening in the extreme.
    I also had to learn new skills.
    That allowed me to see the seamier aspect of the criminal justice system.
    I hated those 2:00AM calls to pronounce someone who had lost his or her life.
    The adrenaline junkie in me loved watching some sharp accident investigators and homicide detectives "who dunnit"!




    2. What do you like and dislike about the job?
    Advising people, sometimes actually being able to help those that were wronged, harmed, or their survivors. It was always a pleasure to work with knowledgeable,enthusiastic, and clever military and civilian law enforcement personnel.

    I liked being of service to others, and researching ways to do as our constitution demands, protect the rights of all
    .




    3. What advice would you give to someone interested in a career in this field?

    Don't worry about what area of the law in which you want to specialize.
    The law school experience alone is worth the ride.
    The way lawyers are taught their craft will astound you.
    Embrace it, go with it, just do the work to graduate.
    As you get to know your law school peers and professors, things will all fall in place.
    You must first graduate law school and pass a bar exam (somewhere) before you can practice law.


    Also, I've talked with some local lawyers before who have encouraged me to pursue patent or criminal law and discouraged me from pursuing constitutional law, as they've said that that career mostly entails work with appellate courts. Are there any specific advantages to patent or criminal law as opposed to constitutional law?

    Thanks in advance.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  3. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    1. What specific kinds of work do you do?

    I've worked in a general practice to start my career but specialized in intellectual property, Internet law and business law. In the past I did a some work as a trial lawyer, writing briefs and occasionally appearing in court before the judge to handle matters of civil litigation. I've been in landlord tenant court, civil court, a few rare appearances in federal court and in other specialized courts. But primarily I've been a business lawyer helping people with simple consumer contracts, commercial contracts for business and specialize in technology contracts.

    2. What do you like and dislike about the job?

    I love being in the game, hence I enjoy doing the business and working hands on with the technology. While it's great to need to understand the game in order to perform the legal work, it's a completely different type of work and not the same as actually being in the game itself. While I did some litigation, I preferred to be building things rather than arguing about them and potentially destroying them. Still, I did enjoy arguing a great case and destroying those who sought to wrongfully use the system and abuse others.

    3. What advice would you give to someone interested in a career in this field?

    If you speak to most attorneys, they will tell you to run! :) I'd say that given the large number of lawyers, you should probably intern and spend time understanding what you'll be doing before you actually decide to go to law school and make the effort required. Most of the time a student's perception of the job is completely different than the actual job itself. Law & Order is great. But the trial portion you see is 5% of the job. 95% is research and "motion practice" which rarely gets shown and only the truly useful ones. :) Serving in an internship can be an invaluable experience to understanding what the job is really all about and separate your ideals about what a lawyer does from what the actual legal practice in a law firm is like in reality.

    Also, I've talked with some local lawyers before who have encouraged me to pursue patent or criminal law and discouraged me from pursuing constitutional law, as they've said that that career mostly entails work with appellate courts. Are there any specific advantages to patent or criminal law as opposed to constitutional law?

    Follow your heart. They may have well said "do the job that can make the most money." But if your heart isn't into it, you're going to hate it very, very quickly. There is a place for criminal attorneys but you may not be one of them. Many feel that if someone is guilty, they cannot be the one poking holes in the case of the prosecution, especially for a rapist, a wall street robber baron and the like. It's not about the money - it's about the job. And patent law is very specific, requires a great deal of extra schooling and can also be frustrating if you don't buy into the whole patent concept. If you're around long enough you'll be able to identify the different personality types that are usually well suited for certain types of attorneys. Don't follow the money - follow your passion. If there is some money in it and you are good at what you do and enjoy the job, you will be successful. If you don't enjoy or have passion about your work, you will either burn out, be unemployed or both!
     

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