Lawyers can experience very exciting, highly paid and interesting careers. They can also suffer from extreme stress, guilt and alienation after years of dealing with humans in crisis. Whether the benefits of being a lawyer outweigh the drawbacks is largely a matter of individual preference. You may not know whether it's a suitable career for you until you have gone all the way through law school and become a practicing lawyer.
Practicing law can be very exciting at times. If you are lucky enough to be a criminal lawyer who is involved in a high-profile case, you may spend months in intellectual sparring with your opponents. For people who enjoy strategy, confrontation and the drama of a good battle, practicing law can be very fulfilling. This excitement is tempered, of course, by many hours of difficult and sometimes boring reading and paperwork.
The thing that many lawyers like most about the practice of law is that it is not repetitive. What you are doing on a daily basis depends on which cases you're working on, and no two cases are exactly the same. While some forms of law, such as real estate, may involve many similar cases, other fields of law, such as criminal law, are always changing. The unpredictability of criminal behaviour, while damaging to society as a whole, provides a varied and exciting career for criminal lawyers.
The downside of unpredictability and excitement is the stress that often goes with them. Participation as a lawyer in criminal cases can involve long hours of work, strict deadlines and a very real uncertainty of success. Not knowing if and when you will be working on a certain day, and how long you might be working, can interfere with family plans and other aspects of your life, leading to uncertainty and stress.
Lawyers who work with criminals and other unpredictable people are sometimes the recipients of threats or actual violence. Prosecutors who take on cases against members of organised crime are frequently threatened with reprisals, should they be successful in their prosecution. While relative to the number of cases that occur, threats and violence against lawyers are quite rare, the possibility of them can increase the stress of the job, and the fear that results from threats can seriously detract from the fulfilment of the job.
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