So you wanna be a lawyer
Did you know that the earliest lawyers existed in the government of ancient Greece? And that 25 past presidents of the US were lawyers before they were sworn in? A lawyer is known by many names – advocate, barrister, attorney, counsel, counselor or solicitor – if you think you have what it takes to become one, read on to find out what you need to do.
The Job of a Lawyer
A lawyer is someone who has earned a degree in law, and has a license to practice law in a particular area. Generally, the job of a lawyer includes:
- Advising and representing clients in courts and in private legal matters.
- Communicating with clients, colleagues, judges and others involved in the case.
- Conducting research.
- Interpreting laws, rulings, and regulations.
- Presenting facts in writing and verbally to their clients or others and argue on behalf of their clients.
- Preparing and filing legal documents, such as lawsuits, appeals, wills, contracts, and deeds.
Want to find out what kinds of jobs law firms offer?
eLawyer is a popular law portal in Malaysia that posts the latest jobs available in the legal profession. Click on each job title to read more about the job description.
You can also get a better understanding about the latest issues, trends or changes in the legal field both locally and internationally by reading the articles at eLawyer’s blog.
Lawyers sometimes provide advice or their services for free; this is called "pro bono," meaning "for the public good." In many countries, if a person is accused of a crime and unable to pay for a lawyer, the government will pay a lawyer to represent them using tax money.
Lawyers work in many different industries but lawyers also often specialize in a particular area. Here are some examples of the different types of lawyers that specialise in specific legal areas:
- Civil Rights
- Corporate and Securities Law
- Criminal Law
- Education Law
- Employment and Labor Law
- Environmental and Natural Resources Law
- Family and Juvenile Law
- Health Law
- Immigration Law
- Intellectual Property Law
- International Law
- Real Estate Law
- Sports and Entertainment Law
- Tax Law
So which legal practice area(s) will suit you best?
Find out by taking this quiz. Which field of law is right for you?.
Is This Job For You?
If you think you want to pursue a career in the legal profession, take a moment to ask yourself these questions: Do you have a thirst for knowledge and a desire for continual learning? Are you detail-oriented? Are you good at analysing situations and determining approaches? Do you thrive in a competitive environment? Are you willing to work long hours?
The interest code for this career is EI (Enterprising and Investigative):
Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
A lawyer needs excellent analytical skills. They need to be able to digest large amounts of information quickly, pick out the essential points and make connections to how the law applies to each point. They also need good organisational skills to manage their time and work as efficiently as possible on every case.
Good communications skills is essential – from good grammar to being able to make arguments in a clear and concise manner. Lawyers work with people. As such, people skills are also important. Lawyers need to be able to deal with people from all walks of life in a professional way. Lawyers also need to de dependable, honest and ethical; and be able to accept criticism and have high stress tolerance
What kind of lifestyle does a lawyer have?
You will very likely:
- work long and irregular hours
- work at the weekends
- travel within and out of the country
- spend a lot of time reading
- spend a lot of time talking, negotiating and even arguing with people
- earn a good salary
- live in a big city
- deal with people from all walks of life
Lawyers value recognition, advancement and potential for leadership. They appreciate accomplishment and being able to use their strongest abilities. They also like to work independently and making their own decisions.
Lawyers do most of their work in offices, law libraries, and courtrooms. They sometimes meet in clients’ homes or places of business. They may travel to attend meetings, gather evidence, and appear before courts and other authorities. It is common for lawyers to work long and irregular hours, including weekends.
Lawyers are increasingly using various forms of technology like databases, voice-recognition technology and software applications to perform more efficiently and share information more effectively.
Places of Employment
Lawyers can find employment at law firms, government agencies, and the judiciary. They may also work as in-house lawyers for private companies or for non-profit agencies. Some may work in academia.
Job Entry Requirement
After completing a law LL.B degree from the recognised universities, graduates can qualify to be admitted to the Malaysian Bar by sitting for and passing the Malaysian Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP), or passing the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) in UK. After passing these, law graduates are then required to go through a nine-month training called 'chambering' or 'pupillage'. During the chambering period, graduates will need to sit for some exams conducted by the Malaysian Bar before they can be called to the Malaysian Bar and become a qualified lawyer in Malaysia.
Note: Students who graduate with a law degree from Universiti Malaya or other institutions as stipulated by the laws are not required to sit for the CLP exam. A credit in Bahasa Melayu at SPM level is required by the Malaysian Legal Profession Qualifying Board to practise law in Malaysia.
Education and training qualifications:
Read more in Courses and careers in law
Sources used in this article:
- Law School Admission Council, “Fields of Law”
- Occupational Outlook Handbook
- StudentScholarships.org, “Lawyers - What They Do”
- Target Careers, “Would a career in law suit me?”
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