1. Simon, Dee. Personal Interview. 2 December 2002.
For my first interview, I spoke with Judge Dee Simon, who currently holds a B.A. in English from Tulane and a J.D. from Louisiana State University. He originally specialized in the area of maritime law and gradually became involved in family and criminal law currently working as a juvenile court judge. Mr. Larry Simon works for one of the most solidly based and predominant law firms in Lafayette, Liskow and Lewis. He earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Tulane and also a J.D. from Louisiana State University. His area of specialties is Oil and Gas Property Law as well as Litigation.
Preparing for the Profession
Judge Dee Simon believes that the best way to get started in the law profession is to perform well in school. She stated that to be recruited by the best firms, one needs a high G.P.A. Being ranked in the top 10% of your class and making the Law Review, an honor given to those who are ranked in the top 10%, are two of the most important honors that will attract good firms. Judge Simon also stated that she felt that in order to prepare for the writing and communication skills required for the law profession one needs to take a great deal of English classes. In addition to the high G.P.A. and English classes one should also learn to consider “pro bono” work she stated. Volunteer work is an important part of the law profession and taking on these cases is an important service to one’s community. It also serves to further one’s career.
Realities of the Profession
The reality of success in the law profession, Judge Simon stated, is that one needs to love what one does in order to really succeed. She stated that the law profession is a career that requires a great deal of time and concentration. A typical day could be 10-12 hours and sometimes longer than that. It is also not untypical to work on the weekends. Judge Simon even went on to compare the law profession to “a jealous mistress.” This is to say that the law profession is extremely time consuming and demands a great deal with little regard for one’s own feelings. One important piece of advice she added was that one should find a spouse who really understands and accepts the dedication and time consumption that the law profession takes.
Forms of Communication
As judge Simon said during the interview, the law profession is centered around communication and language. It is a job that requires skills in all facets of communication including presentations, one-on-one communication, mediation, formal speaking, persuasive speaking, etc. Lawyers spend most of their time reading and writing, so skills in spoken and written language are absolutely invaluable. Judge Simon stated that the most successful lawyers are not always the brightest, but the one’s who are willing to put in the time and effort to read the materials and effectively prepare are the ones who most often succeed.
2. Simon, Larry. Personal Interview. 1 December 2002.
For my second interview, I spoke with Mr. Larry Simon of Liskow and Lewis, an established law firm also located in Lafayette. Judge Dee Simon currently holds a B.A. in English from Tulane and a J.D. from Louisiana State University. She originally specialized in the area of maritime law and gradually became involved in family and criminal law currently working as a juvenile court judge. Mr. Larry Simon works for one of the most solidly based and predominant law firms in Lafayette, Liskow and Lewis. He earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Tulane and also a J.D. from Louisiana State University. His area of specialties is Oil and Gas Property Law as well as Litigation.
Preparing for the Profession
Mr. Larry Simon, who works as an oil and gas lawyer, again stated that making good grades was essential in opening up opportunities for you early on. Not only is it important to rank at the top of your class, but also it is also important to be involved in extracurricular activities. He also suggested that I take some philosophy classes, especially those centered on Logic. Philosophy, he stated, can allow you to better understand logical thinking and prepare you to identify the faults in another person’s argument. In addition to this, when I asked him if finance was a sound undergraduate major, he added that it would help me to know different aspects of business. He stated that quantifying the net gains and losses of a case is very important in the law profession. As to preparing for the law profession, Mr. Simon, simply stated that study skills and time management are absolutely essential.
Realities of the Profession
Mr. Simon highly stressed the fact that being a lawyer is extremely time consuming. He recalled times where he would come home from work to have dinner with his family and then leave to go back to the office to finish his work. Workdays could last from 12 to 18 hours and the amount of reading and preparing is tremendous. He added that it was important that you love your job in order to deal with the grueling work hours. In addition to the information he gave me on the work, he also added a little about the different areas of law including Criminal, Civil, and Administrative. It seems that the more sought after jobs and high paying jobs lie in Civil law. Most of the brightest young lawyers tend to gravitate to these jobs. He also gave me some rough estimates of starting salaries from a number of different regions of the United States. In particular, his firm now institutes a starting salary of about 70,000 dollars in order to compete with areas like New York City and Houston.
Forms of Communication
It was absolutely essential in Mr. Simon’s eyes that one understands language and posses good communication skills in order to succeed in the law field. Not only does this encompass writing, reading, formal speeches, and presentations, but it also encompasses an understanding of human nature. Mr. Simon suggested that the next time I was in a bar or around a group of people, I should step back and observe and try to understand why people do the things they do. He felt that in order to understand and effectively mediate between people, as lawyers do, one needs to know how and why people act the way they do.
3. Fuisz, Jeffrey, Allison McKinnell, and Kashif Rashid. “10 Secrets to Becoming a Great Lawyer.” New York Law Journal 7 Sept. 1999. Online. Internet. 28 Mar. 2001. Available: http://www.law.com.
This article’s focus is presenting its reader with tips to becoming not a great associate in a law firm, but a great lawyer in a law firm. Its main point is that in order for young lawyers to successfully become great lawyers, they need to be able to learn from other great lawyers. Lawyers create styles that are unique and diverse. Young lawyers should recognize, not only their strong points, but also the strong points of other lawyers. They should not try to emulate these traits, but assimilate them into their own style and thus benefit from the example of older, more experienced lawyers. In order to achieve this goal, one needs to ask questions and steal from the bosses. They must realize that the wheel exists and that it takes time and experience to become a great lawyer. Lawyers should “sweat the details” and pursue opportunities with vigor and determinism. They should hone their skills and act professionally. Being receptive to feedback and asking for help when needed are vital towards gaining this invaluable experience. It is also important to note that to be a successful lawyer you need to have a life. Young lawyers, in order to become great lawyers, must be responsive, receptive, and humble. They must hone their skills as well as assimilate those of other lawyers to truly become great lawyers. The authors of this article give sound advice towards enhancing one’s skills as a young lawyer.
4. Myjobs.com. “Career Profile: Law.” Myjobs.com 1999-2000. Myjobs.com Online. Online. WetFeet.com. 1 April 2001.
Myjobs.com has provided an article that deals with the different career tracks commonly associated with lawyers. The article list and summarizes the duties, hours, and workloads of different types of lawyers ranging from firm associates to in-house counsels. In particular, most law students just out of law school choose to work in private practice. This means working for an established firm as an associate. Firm associates “do the bulk of the grunt work in a law firm” working up to 2000-2400 hours a year. Among these associates are the “transactional lawyers” who primarily deal with business issues dealing with “corporate financing, contracts, acquisitions, and bankruptcy.” Another type of corporate law track is the in-house counsel. The in-house counsel is hired by a company to handle all the legal work for that particular company. They “tend to work more reasonable hours” and are hired because of experience as transactional lawyers. The remainder of this article goes on to discuss other career tracks including solo practitioning, public defense, professorship, and public interest law. The intent of the article is to familiarize the reader with the different career paths that can be taken with a law degree. It deals not only with civil law, but also in areas of criminal and administrative law.
5. Oltman, Seth. “Can You Spot the Lawyer.” L Magazine 12 April 2000. Online. Internet. 28 March 2001. Available: http://www.law.com.
“Can You Spot the Lawyer” is an article about how personality plays a key role in the interest, success, and ability of lawyers to excel in their profession. Oltman presents to us the studies of Susan Daicoff, a psychologist who has spent a great deal of time studying personalities and how they better suit some people to be lawyers. These studies center around the Meyers-Briggs personality test. This test uses four scales of measurement including “extroversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceiving.” One major point is that lawyers tend to be far more introverted and intuitive in their thinking then the average mean of the general population. They “value justice, rationality, truth, and objectivity” as well as have a high desire to achieve and compete. They’re effective problem solvers and tend to be aggressive. But despite these distinctions that offset lawyers from the general population, there are also differences within the profession. Corporate law, for one, requires a great deal of a sensing personality. A corporate attorney should like to make deals and negotiate between people, where as, labor law and civil litigation tend to be a career tracks more accustomed to intuitive thinkers who enjoy planning and strategy. All in all, this article points out the fact that different personalities produce different types of lawyers. It is important to know your likes and dislikes, your strengths and your weaknesses. This type of knowledge will better help a young law student to pursue a line of law that is well suited to his own personality.
6. Princeton Review. “Attorney.” Review.com (2001). Online. Internet. 28 March 2001. Available: http://www.review.com/career/ careerProfile/cfm?id=16.
The Princeton Review provides a comprehensive study of the professional life of an attorney. An attorney, according to the Review, “counsels clients on matters pertaining to the law.” Attorneys, do go to trial, but or more experienced in informing clients to their rights. They work long hours and have a great deal of pressure to perform and make deadlines. The article suggest that anyone thinking of going into this field should have “strong work habits, a curious mind, and the ability to work with, and for, others.” Along with this, students should prepare with a well-rounded liberal arts education with emphasis on history, English, philosophy, and logic. Along with these suggestions for aspiring lawyers, the article does add a brief history of the study of law mentioning Hammurabi and the Greeks. An interesting point that is mentioned is that the amount of attorneys present in today’s workforce is a response to the rapid growth of commerce in the 1980’s. The article continues with a brief quality of life sketch for lawyers in their first 2 years out of law school all the way to 10 years out of law school. In conclusion the article presents to us a career profile for attorneys. It states that there are roughly 656,000 attorneys who average about 50 hours a week. All in all, this article gives us some basic statistics available about the work habits, demographics, and salary expectations of attorneys working today.
7. Princeton Review. “Trial Lawyer.” Review.com (2001). Online. Internet. 28 March 2001. Available: http://www.review.com/career/ careerProfile.cfm?id=173.
This Princeton Review article deals with litigation lawyers as opposed to attorneys. Litigation is the process of representing a client in court in either civil or criminal matters. Not all lawyers specialize in litigation, but a trial lawyers main objective is to persuade a jury to rule in favor of his or her client. Trial lawyers spend much of their time in court, but out of court they “review files, schedule orders, contact witnesses, take depositions, and talk to clients.” Most trial lawyers spend most of their first years out of law school under the mentoring of a senior trial lawyer. They do a great deal of research as young associates and this prepares them for their respective careers as trial lawyers. The starting salary for young trial lawyers differs according to skills, position, and geography. Young lawyers in private practice make more than lawyers who take clerkships and positions in administrative law. Lawyers also stand to make more money if their firm is located in a larger city. The standing population of trial lawyers in the United States is roughly 514,000. In conclusion, this article provides its reader with the facts and information necessary to better understand the differences between litigation and advising. The article provides a realistic look at the career opportunities for those young lawyers interested in becoming trial lawyers.
8. Rollins College. 2000 Prelaw Handbook. Morrison Computers, 2000. Online. Internet. 1 April 2001. Available: http://www.rollins.edu/
This article was taken from the Rollins College web page and offers information pertinent to anybody interested in attending law school. The article goes over what is to be expected from law school. During the first year of law school one must expect to be come familiar with the “case method” approach to learning about law. This requires the students to study different cases of law and use the knowledge gained from these cases and apply that knowledge in different situations. Professors try to teach you how to think like a regular lawyer. Your ability to be “analytical and literate is considerably more important than the power of total recall.” The article goes on to state that law, contrary to certain belief, does not always deal with certainty, it however, deals with “complex legal questions that do not have simple legal solutions.” Most students, along with learning how to think like a lawyer in their first year, will also take courses in specific areas, including civil procedure, constitutional law, legal method, legal writing, contracts, and torts. Students will also participate in moot court and other extracurricular activities designed to enhance one’s ability to practice law. All in all, the purpose of this article is to enhance the reader’s knowledge of the process of law school and what is to be expected. The article does a great job of outlining the 3 years of law school and provides supplementary information on how to achieve one’s goals while attending.
9. State Bar of Texas. “Becoming a Lawyer.” State Bar of Texas, (1999). Online. Internet. 1 April 2001. Available: http://www.texasbar.com/ pubinf/legalinfo /bealaw.htm.
This article, published by the State Bar of Texas, specifies the function of lawyers in society as well as gives the reader information as to how to become a lawyer. It states that in order to become a licensed lawyer one needs to complete 7 years of education following high school. You are required to hold a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from a American Bar Association certified school. You must then pass the bar exam before becoming a lawyer. This article also touches a bit on the cost of attending law school. Tuition ranges from school to school and “financial aid, work/study programs, and state and federally-funded student loan programs are available.” Unlike other similar articles, this article also gives suggested reading and resources for interested parties looking into the law profession. It also gives a list of not only different positions practiced in law, but a list of areas of specialization. This article’s objective is to inform, on a basic level, the preliminary steps to inquiring into the law profession. It systematically breaks up the process of admission into law school, the process of finding a job, and the areas of specialization into a well-organized and informative article on careers in law.
10. U.S. Department of Labor. “Lawyers and Judicial Workers.” Occupational Outlook Handbook 14 July 2000. Online. Internet. 28 March 2001. Available: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos053.htm.
“Lawyers and Judicial Workers” is a very thorough and informative paper about careers in law. It opens with an introduction into the nature of the work including a distinctions between acting as an advocate or an advisor. This is the distinction between attorneys and trial lawyers or litigators who practice within the courtroom. The focus of the article then shifts to the different specializations of law study with a very thorough run down of a number of different specializations. The article also focuses on the role of judges in the legal system. Many attorneys advance to work as judges or other types of judicial workers. Their duties include presiding over cases involved on a local, State, and Federal level. Judges are called on to “ensure that rules and procedures are followed” and often times make decisions on cases heard before them. The article also mentions working conditions associated with the legal profession. Lawyers and judges work long hours and spend most of their times in “offices, law libraries, and courtrooms.” Some lawyers, such as those involved with tax, have working conditions that fluctuate with certain time periods. Most legal workers are employed in private practice with about “4 out of 10 holding positions in the Federal Government.” Competition for these jobs is stiff and requires all the right prerequisites associated with becoming a good lawyer. Taking the (ABA) bar exam or the (MBE) bar exam is required in order to become a practicing lawyer. It is also important to be proficient in “writing and speaking, reading, researching, analyzing, and thinking logically.” The article then swiftly moves into discussion of law schools. This area gives prospective law students advice on law schools, admissions test, and graduate planning. For these students, competition should be stiff well through 2008 as stated in the job outlook of this article. Employment growth though does benefit from the number of corporations that are arising and attracting young lawyers to other positions including finance and management. Lastly we are presented with salary statistics indicating the mean average salaries of attorneys and judges in myriad different fields of study. This article is very comprehensive and informative. It has a great deal of information and is well organized and thorough in its presentation. It provides a number of excellent perspectives on number of different areas and aspects of legal work.