What It's Like Being a Law Student and Practicing Attorney

Firefighters putting out a fire

For those just thinking about law school, it can be difficult to get a sense of what law school and legal practice is actually like. The general question can be answered in countless ways. But I’ll just focus on one element: the varying degrees of pressure that you’ll face both as a law student and as a practicing lawyer. You're constantly putting out fires and new fires constantly emerge.

Law School

In law school, there’s the pressure to obtain great grades to maximize the odds of working in your dream office. Then there’s the pressure to pass your state’s bar exam so that you can actually become a practicing lawyer. These are all difficult tasks. You should be proud of yourself when you overcome these challenges.

Legal Practice

With that said, once you jump over these hurdles, the pressure changes. Where you were once essentially only accountable to yourself, you’ll now be accountable to others who are paying for your services (your clients). Your clients will be seeking the “best” outcome and it can be difficult to manage their expectations. Along with this, you’ll face pressure from senior lawyers in your office, who are expecting you to deliver solid work product even if you don’t really know what you’re doing.

Legal practice isn’t for the faint of heart. Having said that, it can be extremely rewarding—and potentially lucrative—so long as you understand (1) your motivations for pursuing law school and (2) the realities of legal practice. That’s why it’s so important to complete your diligence before you shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend law school.