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Only the top students are accepted into law school, and these programs require years of dedicated work. As a lawyer, you'll deal with long hours and cranky clients, so it is common for students to wonder why they should even consider becoming a lawyer in the first place. By learning about the top reasons to become a lawyer, you can decide if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Hands down, one of the greatest benefits to becoming a lawyer is the money. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a lawyer was $110,590 in 2008. Even as you start out in your career, you can expect to make around $68,500 within nine months of graduation. Few other careers offer such high starting salaries.
Lawyers actually have the opportunity to make a difference in both the lives of their clients and the lives of people everywhere, as a single case can set precedence for thousands of cases to come. In this job, your hard work is rewarded not just in money, but also in a feeling of fulfillment with your career.
Most lawyers choose to specialize in one area of law. Your options range from personal injury to real estate law, and whatever specialization you choose, you'll have the chance to learn a lot about that industry. Even within a single specialty, your day-to-day tasks will vary significantly, which keeps your life at work interesting.
Once you have a degree and license to practice law, you can pursue advanced career options as well. Lawyers with experience in their field can work their way up in the ranks at a private practice, becoming a partner in the business. You can also become a judge or educator in your field.
As a lawyer, you'll constantly be learning, even if you don't go back to school for official advanced training. Through working on cases, you'll research past cases, learn about obscure laws and get to know the intricacies of you specialization. You also have the chance to go back to school for more education, and if you work for a law firm, they may even reimburse your tuition to encourage employees to consider getting another degree or diploma.
Knowledge of the law
Knowing the law can come in handy in your daily life, when buying real estate, dealing with a car accident, creating a will or making any kind of purchase. This is not by far a comprehensive list of when knowledge of the law could help you in your daily life, and you'll typically find that friends and family members will often come to you for unofficial advice about legal or business issues.
Job growth and security
Job growth in the legal industry is expected to be at about 13 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is average when considering job growth across all industries. When working for a law firm, your job is very secure as long as you're a good employee, which is not something that can be said for many markets, especially when the economy is bad. People will always need lawyers, and job growth will be even faster than average in some legal areas, such as health care and environmental law.
Lawyers are not concentrated in one area of the United States. They're also not concentrated only in cities; rural lawyers are needed, too. This means that you can pick and choose where you want to live as a lawyer. As long as you have a license to work in your chosen area, you can move to any part of the United States and practice law.
Lawyers meet people from all walks of life. As you work with clients, you'll start to network, which not only expands your business, but also leads to perks in other parts of your life. If you need a reliable contractor, a client can recommend one, for example, or your client may be a foodie who tips you off to a great place to eat in your neighborhood. Networking isn't the primary reason you should become a lawyer, but it is definitely an added benefit.
Ability to Run a Business
You aren't limited to working for other people as a lawyer. Once you gain experience in your field, you can open your own law firm, and when you run your own business, you have the opportunity to set your own hours, take the cases that interest you most and make other major decisions regarding your practice. When you work for yourself, you get to play by your rules, and although being a business owner is a lot of work, it is rewarding to know that you're putting money into your own pocket, not the pockets of those who own the law firm where you work.
2016 Salary Information for Lawyers
Lawyers earned a median annual salary of $118,160 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, lawyers earned a 25th percentile salary of $77,580, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $176,580, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 792,500 people were employed in the U.S. as lawyers.
Allison Boyer has been a content marketing consultant since 2005, and currently runs the food blog The PinterTestKitchen. She was previously the Content Director for New Media Expo, where she helped bloggers and businesses learn about new media. Boyer holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Elizabethtown College.