Attorneys apply the law to specific situations and advise their clients on a course of action based on legal rights and responsibilities. Some attorneys work in the business world, providing counsel to corporate clients on business transactions. Other attorneys work with persons in the legal system, advocating on their behalf and representing them in court actions.
Attorneys specialize in an area of law, such as contracts, criminal cases, or patent litigation. Most lawyers work in private practice, either self-employed or with a group of attorneys hired by clients for specific matters. Some lawyers work as in-house counsel for a corporation or government entity.
Since much of the legal system is time-sensitive, most attorneys must work long hours. Most attorneys work in an office environment, law library, or a courtroom setting.
Attorneys must complete many years of education; after attaining an undergraduate degree, they must complete a program, typically three years long, at a law school to obtain the juris doctorate degree (J.D.). To practice as an attorney, one must pass a lengthy, difficult examination that varies state by state. Attorneys must have excellent analytic ability and be able to interpret laws and legal rulings. They must be skilled at gathering and applying information, as well as be very detail-oriented, able to retain large amounts of information, and accurate in execution of their duties. Attorneys must have excellent communication skills, both verbal and written, and be able to generate persuasive arguments. They also must excel at problem-solving tasks.
Attorney / Lawyer Tasks
- Gather evidence to formulate defense or to initiate legal actions; evaluate findings and develop strategies and arguments for presentation of cases.
- Analyze and interpret laws, rulings and regulations with probable case outcomes for individuals and businesses.
- Represent clients in court or before government agencies, present and summarize cases to judges and juries.
- Advise clients in business transactions, claim liability, advisability of prosecuting or defending lawsuits or legal rights and obligations.
- Select jurors, argue motions, meet with judges and question witnesses during the course of a trial.