Top 6 challenges of becoming a lawyer today
A career as a lawyer is one of the most sought-after professions and there are indeed many rewards if you pursue one. But working as an attorney has some drawbacks as well. It’s not all exciting courtroom drama, news conferences, and grateful clients.
The legal profession is a competitive one. It always has been, but these days—with rapid changes in the way we practice law—it seems to be even more so. Despite all its rewarding aspects, the work itself requires incredible intellect and resourcefulness.
So, what are the major challenges facing lawyers today? And what can lawyers do to overcome them?
The Long Hours
Any given workday for an attorney is hectic. Their schedules are unpredictable. From courts rescheduling hearings to unanticipated developments in a client’s case, there are many days where an attorney’s work cuts into family time and sleep. While some long days are unavoidable, consistently long days with an excessive workload can affect your health and wellbeing.
And the reality is that the long hours you work as a lawyer don’t just take a toll on you. They take a toll on the people around you as well. You begin to miss important family events. Your social life starts disappearing. You start drowning in work.
The solution you are looking for is to balance your life as a lawyer. A good time management strategy begins with tracking all your hours and evaluating your habits. If you find that interruptions like phone calls and emails slow you down, cut down on multitasking and block your time for specific tasks.
Deadlines, billing pressures, client demands, long hours, changing laws, and other demands all combine to make the practice of law one of the most stressful jobs out there. Throw in rising business pressures, evolving legal technologies, and the unpredictable social, political and economic context and it’s no wonder lawyers are stressed.
While helping your clients and resolving cases is rewarding, it comes with a significant amount of stress. It’s no secret that attorneys struggle with excessive stress, anxiety, and depression.
Be mindful of your emotional, psychological and even physical needs by practising self-care. Your mind and body need to recharge so you can work optimally and meet the commitments in your personal life. Understanding that self-care is a necessity will make it easier to dedicate your time to keep your body and spirit healthy with good eating habits, a workout routine, and even meditation. Hitting the gym, taking walks and adopting a daily meditation practice will work wonders for managing stress and anxiety. Then you can better focus on your career as a lawyer.
Low-Cost Legal Service Providers
While the hours might be long and tiresome in those first few years, the dividend is the higher fees that one can command with the experience that they have under their belt. At the same time, lawyers have traditionally provided a valuable service that individuals and organizations have been more than willing to pay for in the past. Times are now changing in this regard.
There are many new low-cost entities entering the legal community that offer many of these services at a fraction of the cost. Whereas the only option used to be a local lawyer that was located nearby, individuals and organizations today can choose from a wide range of options available on the Internet.
As a consequence, lawyers are now having to examine their approach to the service that they offer, including their existing fee structure. This does not mean that you must accept less financial compensation in the end, but it does mean that you need to approach your business model from a different perspective than you used to.
Unrealistic Expectations from Clients
We can all agree that technology helps in a lot of ways. It has made many aspects of both work and personal lives easier and more convenient. Technology has also changed the face of the way many industries operate.
However, one reason it’s a challenge for lawyers is this: Clients’ expectations are more than ever sky-high and on-demand. Access to the Internet provides potential clients with access to legal information at their fingertips. They are empowered by technology and today, they expect their attorneys will be proactive in finding ways to be efficient and offering options and solutions in terms of results. This can strain relationships between lawyers and their clients, which puts additional pressure on attorneys to find ways to meet these expectations.
What needs to be done is managing client expectations. Your best bet for managing expectations is to operate with transparency and open communication from the beginning. Clients may come to you with fear and uncertainty, needing hope. While there’s nothing wrong with providing compassion and comfort, it’s important to do so with a balanced approach.
You Won’t Like All Your Clients
The forever hard to swallow pill: not all of your clients are going to be “ideal”. You will occasionally represent clients who are involved in an industry, project or case that is not aligned with your values.
You won’t be able to pick and choose which clients you take on, at least not if you want to make a living. People who need lawyers don’t represent a single, simple demographic. They might be wealthy and sophisticated, but arrogant and exacting. They might be homeless and accused of a crime that they did or did not actually commit.
Keep things professional. And remember that you chose a career as a lawyer for a reason. Hopefully, you’ll find that this reason makes everything worth it in the end.
Clients’ Reluctance to Spend Money on Legal Services
Clients have become more conscious of their legal spending. After years of seeing billing hikes that far exceeded inflation, clients began demanding more value for their money. This forces lawyers to keep their billing rates reasonable.
Some people and businesses these days prefer not to spend any money on legal services. They’d rather take their chances with new technologies. Many of these technologies offer the same value at lower costs. The parties that do spend money on legal services aren’t typically willing to spend much. There are several lawyers on the market, so clients can go elsewhere if they don’t like your prices.
The best course of action here is not to drastically lower your prices but to provide value that your competitors don’t. If you do so, you can make your clients understand why your services are worth what you charge.
While it might seem like the solution is to roll up your sleeves and work harder, the key is to stay on top of the challenges in the legal profession and make moves to ensure you keep up. Some challenges are out of your direct control—competition, globalization, regulation—but some you can proactively tackle. Do not hesitate to turn to your professional legal coach for the best support, to grow and develop yourself.