If you believe pop culture, life as a lawyer is pretty exciting.
Jury trials take half an hour and there’s an ongoing highlight reel of witty cross-examination and bombshell surprise evidence. Sadly, that’s not the way things work in reality.
At best, a career as a lawyer is comprised of long periods of tedium punctuated with moments of excitement, or sheer terror, depending on your constitution.
The Reality of Life as a Litigator
If you’re a litigator, most of your time will be spent in the discovery phase, where you’ll face hundreds of remarkably similar requests for documents, admissions, etc. — each of which is designed to trip you up and get you to admit something that will damage your client’s case.
By the time you get to trial, there are no bombshells. You’ll probably be able to put on your opponent’s case for them, because it will come down to a handful of documents and statements, culled from hundreds of hours of tedious deposition testimony and the thousands of documents eventually exchanged, after the frustrated judge told the lawyers to sort it out and stop bothering her.
Jury selection alone may take days, and much of the trial itself will be about as exciting as watching paint dry.
If you think criminal cases have to be interesting, try sitting through the third day in a row of evidence about the procedures of the crime lab that determined the white powder in front of the jury is indeed cocaine, and you’ll be rapidly disabused of that notion.
The Reality of Life as a Corporate Lawyer
Similarly, if you decide to go the corporate route, and have visions of yourself jetting around the world closing deals, keep in mind that you’re basically the hired help.
The real action belongs to the businesspeople, who regard their lawyers as a necessary evil, at best.
While your litigator friends stress out over discovery disputes and document review, you’ll find yourself pouring over tedious contracts and other due diligence materials, or at the printers for days on end (literally), making sure every I is dotted and every T is crossed in a three hundred page document that’s been revised thirty-seven times in the last twenty-four hours.
The Bottom Line
Is this to say that law’s never exciting? No, of course not.
Sometimes interesting questions arise, or exciting things take place. You just need a really high tolerance for boredom to survive much of the day-to-day work.
More myths about law school, coming right up!
- Law School Myth #1: Lawyers Make a Lot of Money
- Law School Myth #2: Student Loan Debt is Good Debt
- Law School Myth #3: Law School Gives You Three More Years to Decide What to Do With Your Life
- Law School Myth #4: Life as a Lawyer is Exciting and Intellectually Challenging
- Law School Myth #5: Getting a Law Degree Opens Lots of Doors
- Law School Myth #6: You Can Trust a Law School’s Employment Numbers
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