What makes a person suit an occupation?
It’s a question that many have tried to answer, but there is no exact formula for getting it right. Despite what some school testing would suggest, you can’t pick from a list of multiple-choice answers and get the right result. Two people who, on the surface, are very similar may find satisfaction in their career paths being vastly different.
Whether you have yet to embark on your career or are stuck in the midst of one you don’t enjoy, it’s a question you will ask yourself. We select our career choices surprisingly early when you think about it. Most of us will be on the path to what we want to do in life by the time we are 18. So whether you wish to make the right decision first time out of the gate, or switch up for something new, it’s natural to ponder.
There are some stock standard career paths that people tend to consider. Doctor; teacher; lawyer. We all consider them, but that doesn’t mean we’re cut out for them – or so we think. We have to make guesses on what seems interesting and what we might suit.
We’re going to focus on the final of those three standard options; a career in law.
There are countless TV shows focusing on legal dramas. The world is glamorous, high-powered and respected. It’s also known for being well-paid, with lawyers among the elite with the bank balances to show for it. Frankly, it’s a miracle that more people don’t want to be lawyers.
There is also the appeal to the innate sense of human justice. The law is portrayed as a scale, with people working on both sides to ensure fairness throughout. As far back as the 1760s, people were pondering the role of the law. William Blackstone opined that “it is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer”. The law – when applied correctly – protects everyone, from the guilty to the innocent. It rules our lives and the decisions we make. It’s understandable that people wish to be a part of that.
So what kind of people make good lawyers?
There is no winning formula that you can plug into a machine and find the perfect lawyer. However, there are some character traits that can come in useful:
- Meticulous. Do you take your time, make decisions and focus on small details? Legal cases are won and lost on tiny, minute details.
- Passionate. This is not a field where you can begin at 9 am and finish at 5 pm. Being a lawyer is as much of a vocation as it is a career, so be prepared to put in the hard work.
- Pessimism. We want to think the best of people, but those in the legal profession have to do the exact opposite. If you wish to retain a rose-coloured lenses view of things, then it may not be for you.
- Perseverance. This career path is going to throw setbacks at you. It takes a long time to train and even longer to advance. You will also lose cases, which you need to be mentally prepared for. You need to be able to rise above the last case so you can focus on the next one.
So what if you think you’re a good fit?
Up until this point, we have been using the term “law” as if it is one standard practice. In reality, the law is divided into seemingly infinite different areas which all require specific training. There is no such thing as a lawyer who is a jack of all trades; you have to be prepared to be a master of one.
Below, we’ll run through a quick overview of the different fields available. One, in particular, may speak out to you, or it may take you awhile to see something that ignites a passion. Initial training begins in a generalised way and then becomes concrete, so you have got time to figure it out if nothing leaps out at you.
- Banking law. As the name suggests, a form of government law that regulates the banking institutions and government spending. Perhaps you want to see more regulation to prevent another financial collapse. Or maybe you’re on the other side, and which to go for deregulation to free the market.
- Bankruptcy law. Involving in the process of a person or company declaring bankruptcy.
- Bioethics law. This is a fascinating and ever more pertinent area, which deals with issues such as abortion and euthanasia. There is also scope for the inclusion of cloning into this field, as morality tries to catch up with scientific advancement.
- Commercial law. Perhaps the most well-known of the fields, commercial law is everything to do with business. It’s a high-flying field, the type usually starring in TV shows and infamous movies. Also known as business law or corporate law.
- Class act litigation. This groups together a group of individuals who have the same complaint with a particular company or service. Perfect if your sense of fairness is at the primary of your reasons for wishing to work in law.
- Constitutional law. As it says on the tin; matters relating to the constitution of a country.
- Consumer law. Want to protect the customer to stop unscrupulous companies from running loose? This is the one for you.
- Criminal law. Obvious again here. You can work for the prosecution or the defence, depending on your preference.
- Elder law. Better Call Saul’s Jimmy McGill worked in this area, and with an ageing population, you’ll never be short of clients.
- Environmental law. 97% of scientists conclude global warming exists and humans are the problem. Get on their side with this branch.
- Family law. Divorces, prenups and custody battles. Ideal if you’re a people person.
- Health and safety law. Bringing people and companies to account for endangering the populace. Anything from regulation creation to being a workplace injury lawyer for slips, trips and falls.
- Medical law. One of the most important fields, dealing with both the rights of patients and potential medical malpractice.
- Privacy law. Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, thinks that privacy no longer the social norm. If you disagree, then be involved in the assertion of privacy rights.
- Tax law. It may not be something we like to think about, but we all have to pay them. Where there’s a governmental system, there will always be a need for taxation.
- Trademark law. Ideal if you are detail orientated.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list. Some of these areas group together frequently. For example, elder law is often involved with probate – the law regarding the handling of an estate after someone’s death. You will rarely see groupings of diverse subjects; for example, trademark and medical law are very separate.
You don’t! It’s impossible for someone else to judge, and you may find an interest in something now that will bore you in ten years time. There’s no sure way of knowing, but the same is true of any career path.
As mentioned, much of your legal training will not be specific. It will teach you general skills, such as the importance of research and how to make a case. You have got plenty of time to decide which area you which to specialise in. Even if you move into a field and decide it’s not for you, then those base skills remain and you can look at retraining. The law, by its very nature, may be rigid and inflexible, but that doesn’t mean that it is as a career path.
Finally, what are the things that can stop me becoming a lawyer?
There are no fundamentals that will mean you cannot become a lawyer. However, there are certain personality traits that can make it difficult. The key part is to identify these and know how to rectify them.
- Prone to frustration. Legal work takes a long time. The Church of Scientology bombarded the IRS with legal documentation designed to take years and cost millions to fight. In the end, the IRS had to concede and grant religious status to the group. Nothing goes quickly in this field, so you have to be willing to play the long game.
- Being prone to dwelling. You have to be able to pick up and move on if something goes against you.
- Lack of work ethic. This is an exhausting field that is going to take total determination. You have to be committed to it to make a success of it.
If you are already pondering your area of law, have no issues with the downsides and are ready to commit, then you are on the right path. Despite the long hours and frustrations of losses, being involved in the fight for justice is inherently rewarding.