Regardless of why you attended law school, you likely incurred some debt in order to do so. Analysts estimate the the average law student loan debt is in the low to mid six digits.
That's a huge price to pay to practice law.
Given the amount you spent to obtain your law degree, you'd think the worst of your challenges would be behind you. Unfortunately, though, being a lawyer never stops challenging you. From the long hours to the unpleasant clients, you always seem to have a lot on your plate.
What, though, are some of these challenges. And more importantly, how do you overcome them?
Below you'll find seven challenges of being a lawyer and some tips on overcoming them:
1. The Long Hours
In truth, you probably expected to work long hours when you began your career as a lawyer. Expectations, however, don't always prepare us for the reality.
And the reality is that the long hours you work as a lawyer don't just take a toll on you. They take a toll on the people around you as well.
You begin to miss important family events. Your social life starts disappearing. You start drowning in paperwork.
These personal sacrifices may benefit your clients, but you can only go on this way for so long. Eventually, you'll need to learn how to balance your life as a lawyer. Start by setting realistic goals for yourself and work your way up from there.
If you're working long hours, you're probably already stressed out. The long hours, though, aren't the only sources of stress for lawyers.
There's a lot of pressure to excel at what you do in most fields. That pressure can be even greater in the legal field because of the gravity of what you do.
Making a mistake as a lawyer can cost clients dearly. Lost cases can result in heavy fines and jail time in some situations. Since you're only human, there's a good chance that you'll feel bad when one of your mistakes has such consequences.
So here's a tip:
Remember that you're only human. You should always try your best, but you won't win every case. The sooner you come to this realization, the better.
3. New Technologies
New technologies are becoming more disruptive, and not just for lawyers. These technologies are raising legal questions about net neutrality, election transparency, and a host of other hot topics.
Technically speaking, more legal questions mean more work for lawyers, which is great. But this tech's effects on the legal field hasn't been completely positive.
Many lawyers are now expected to understand new and emerging technologies. This expectation only adds work to lawyers' plates.
Not only that, but some of these technologies are taking jobs away from lawyers. Several companies are now using technology to perform tasks they once would have hired lawyers to take care of.
Fortunately, lawyers can adapt to the presence of these new technologies. They need only acquaint themselves with this new tech. Doing so will allow them to make their skill sets more competitive.
4. An Increasingly Competitive Job Market
There will always be a need for people who have a thorough understanding of the law. And not just anybody is capable of understanding the law and its complexity.
The truth, however, is that the legal field has become extremely competitive. There are several reasons for this increase competitiveness.
We detailed one reason above: new technologies. Many of the new technologies on the market have eliminated the need for companies to hire lawyers.
Another reason for the ultra-competitiveness? The sheer number of people who study law these days.
The supply of lawyers exceeds the demand for lawyers by a significant amount. As a result, some lawyers have trouble finding work after obtaining their degrees.
One of the best pieces of advice we can give you here is to elevate your skill set. Become the type of lawyer that's hard to find by picking up valuable skills. Learning new technologies and entering niche legal markets, for example, are excellent ways to stand out.
5. Clients' Reluctance to Spend Money on Legal Services
Once upon a time, jobs in the legal field were considered some of the most lucrative jobs on the market. Though many jobs in the legal field still pay handsomely, most lawyers are a far cry from wealthy.
Because many clients are reluctant to spend a ton of money on legal services.
In fact, some people and businesses these days prefer not to spend any money on legal services. They'd rather take their chances with new technologies. Many of these technologies offer the same value at lower costs.
The parties that do spend money on legal services aren't typically willing to spend much. There are several lawyers on the market, so clients can go elsewhere if they don't like your prices.
That said, you shouldn't drastically lower your prices if you want to be successful in this field. You should instead provide value that your competitors don't. If you do so, you can make your clients understand why your services are worth what you charge.
6. "Guilty" Clients
Here's a hard pill to swallow:
Not all of your clients are going to "innocent." You will occasionally represent clients who committed the crimes they were accused of.
So what do you do in these cases?
Keep things professional. And remember that you chose this career for a reason. Hopefully, you'll find that this reason makes everything worth it in the end.
7. Assumptions About Your Character
More than a few lawyers have to deal with unwanted assumptions about their character. Criminal defense lawyers, for example, are often judged for defending their clients.
Unfortunately, there's no surefire solution here. The only thing you can do is learn to accept that people will judge you. You should also learn to accept that their judgments simply don't matter.
You know yourself best.
Being a Lawyer Is Challenging...
...but the experience is incredibly rewarding. The people you meet and the good you do make all of these challenges worth the headache.
So don't ever doubt your career path. Being a lawyer is what you're passionate about, so push on.
If, however, you see no end to the challenges ahead of you, contact us for more information about our Beyond Counsel. You can also request a demo of our services.