A Lawyer, also called Counsel, Counselor, or Attorney is a licensed legal professional who represents and advises individuals and businesses in legal matters. Lawyers have two major duties. The first is to uphold the law and the second is to protect the rights of his clients.
To be effective, a Lawyer needs to understand the Law and be a good and effective communicator. Each state has standards that need to be met before allowing an individual to practice law there. In most states, an individual must:
• Have a 4-year Bachelor’s degree
• Complete a 3-year Juris Doctor degree in an accredited law school
• Pass the state bar exam
• Pass a fitness and character review
• Take an oath
• Receive a license from the highest court in the state, often the state supreme court
Lawyers have a “C” employability rating. This means they have moderate employment opportunities.
Having a license in one state does not automatically mean a Lawyer can practice Law in all states. If a Lawyer wants to have a license to practice in more than one state, he needs to comply with the bar admission requirements of each state.
Some licensed out-of-state Lawyers are allowed to practice Law if the highest Court of the new state allows them to do so. This is commonly done when they have practiced Law in other states.
Many states also allow out-of-state Lawyers even if they are not licensed in that particular state only for specific cases. This means the Lawyer is appearing pro hac vice or “for this one particular occasion.” Lawyers may have a small or solo practice; opt to work for the private or public sector.
In the private sector, they can work for big and well-known firms. They usually choose an area of law in which to specialise. The law profession can entail a lot of Courtroom appearances but not in all instances. Many lawyers spend a lot of time preparing contracts, doing research work, soliciting testimonies from witnesses, and analyzing cases. In the public sector, Lawyers can work as public defenders or district Attorneys, or even with the federal government.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that between 2018 and 2028, there will be a 6% employment growth for Lawyers. There should be an estimated 50,000 job vacancies for Lawyers during that period in both the private and public sectors as well as for Lawyers who go into solo or private practice.
It is to say that the market for legal jobs has an upward trend. Projections indicate that those who have completed their law studies and are licensed Lawyers will have a lot of employment options. Most employment opportunities for lawyers are still with large law firms in urban areas because this is where corporations usually centralize their business operations. Companies in almost every industry hire in-house lawyers, too.
There is always a demand for Lawyers and sometimes it leads to places other than law firms. A Juris Doctor degree is applicable is that almost any field making is remarkably versatile. Lawyers are also in high demand in the areas of financial advisory, health care administration, compliance, planned giving, and technology to name a few.
Many lawyers are starting to realize that an advanced degree such as a Masters in Law opens more employment opportunities. There are also some professionals, like engineers, who also realize that a Juris Doctor degree allows more flexibility. Engineers who are also lawyers can have lucrative careers in the field of Intellectual Property law.
The number of Lawyers going into a solo or private practice may slow down because of the competition given by the established and large law firms as well as the high cost of maintaining a solo legal practice. Solo law practitioners can turn to the less competitive legal markets of suburban areas and smaller towns.
Many big law firms always look at law schools as the most fertile ground for recruiting new lawyers. New Lawyers with a specialization in one or two areas of law combined with good law school grades and a good bar exam passing score can look forward to a lucrative career.
• First-year associates of big firms can earn up to $180,000 a year.
• First-year associates of boutique or medium-sized firms can earn up to $120,000 a year.
• First-year associates in smaller firms can earn up to $90,000 a year.
Law firms hiring new Lawyers to place a big weight on the law school, undergraduate and law school grades, and bar exam results. Once employed, the new lawyer will have to pour in a lot of time and hard work to ensure a successful law career.
There is always a demand for Lawyers in the US. Lawyers just need to find out where these opportunities are in high demand.
• Big cities like Los Angeles, New York, DC, and Atlanta, are flooded with lawyers and Juris Doctor graduates working and many Lawyers are still looking for work in these cities. Demand for Lawyers in these cities is currently diminishing because there are fewer vacancies in law firms who not looking to expand.
• Urban communities that have lower incomes than those cities stated above are looking for a good number of Lawyers to fill up some vacancies and increasing need.
• Rural areas in the US have a low number of lawyers.
About 20% of the population of the United States is in areas that have no or little access to lawyers. The American Bar Association (ABA), as well as the various state bars, is tackling the lack of Lawyers in certain areas problem by offering incentives to lawyers who would consider working in these areas. The ABA launched recruitment projects aimed at increasing legal access in rural towns.
South Dakota, for example, has the 'Rural Attorney Recruitment Program" offering young and aspiring lawyers attractive compensation. North Dakota with its booming oil industry also has a shortage of Lawyers needed by oil company clients.
There is always a demand for Lawyers in the US. It may be difficult to land a job in the big firms in the big cities but lawyers can always consider working in the less populated areas.
It may be easier and faster to find a job in these areas. It may also be less competitive to start a solo or independent practice. You will also be helping a lot of people who need legal services. Your willingness to take another state bar and to relocate can improve your employment prospects.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that competition for jobs used to be stiff because there were more new Lawyers each year than there were available jobs.
However, the growth in business activities created more legal transactions that increased the need for legal services especially in the areas of health care, intellectual property, environmental issues, antitrust, and mediation.
This demand though is being countered by paralegals and large accounting firms who are also capable of performing some of these functions.
This trend resulted in Lawyers seeking jobs in less traditional environments where legal expertise was not usually required but valuable. These included managerial and administrative positions with real estate and insurance companies, banks, and government agencies.
The demand for Lawyers in the US will remain. This is the reason law schools still experience high turnout of applicants.