Job description

Lawyers are licensed professionals who advise and represent clients – individuals, businesses or governments – in legal matters. They may specialise in a particular legal area – such as tax, intellectual property, corporate, immigration or family law – or practise law across many different areas.

Lawyers typically work for the federal, state or local government or an independent law firm.

Duties

    • Provide legal advice and counsel to clients
    • Research and gather information or evidence
    • Represent clients in a court of law or before a government agency
    • Interpret laws, rulings and regulations for clients
    • Negotiate settlements of civil disputes
    • Draw up legal documents related to contracts, divorces and wills
    • Supervise legal assistants
    • Act as an agent, trustee, guardian or executor for clients

Skills, qualities and knowledge

Problem-solving
Research
Interpersonal
Analytical thinking
Active listening
Communication
Attention to detail
Time management
Legal knowledge

Working hours and environment

Average working hours

50hweek

Typical schedule

Full Time

Long hours, including weekends

As a lawyer, you’ll mostly work in an office setting, though regular travel to meet clients in their homes, businesses or other locations should be expected. You will also need to travel to appear in court.

The work can be stressful, particularly during trials or when working towards a deadline.

Hours can be long, too, with many lawyers reporting an average workweek of between 50 and 70 hours, conducting research for legal cases and preparing and reviewing legal documents.

Salary

Bottom 10%

$58k

Median

$120k

Top 10%

$210k

Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

Undergraduate

DVM / VMD degree

Study time

7years

You’ll need a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), to work as a lawyer. This typically takes three years to complete. Most law schools require applicants to have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree and to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

You’ll then need to be admitted to the bar in your chosen state before you can practise law. This includes one or more written bar exams. If you want to practise law in more than one state, you will need to take the bar exam in each state.

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2018 to 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 5%.

6%%

No of new jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2018 and 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.

50.1k

Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.

3.5%

Career progression

You’ll typically begin your career in law as an associate working on teams with more experienced lawyers. With experience and a solid track record of successful cases, you could advance to partnership in the firm you’re employed in. You could also move to the legal department of a large company or even set up your own practice.