Law is seen as a very serious and complicated area, typically reserved for those who are highly educated, who are willing to work long hours, and who have very little if any sense of humor. However, there is much more to the practice of law than initially meets the eye. These five interesting and sometimes surprising facts about lawyers and their practices will help clear up some of the most common misconceptions about this profession.
1. Law Is the Profession of a Million and Counting
Law is a popular profession with approximately 1.33 million men and women calling this their career as of 2020. This figure has remained mostly constant in the past five years, and the last time there were fewer than one million lawyers in the country was in 1998.
This high number means that there is approximately one lawyer for every 240 people in the United States. However, because many lawyers stick to working in major metropolitan areas, those living in rural areas of the country may not be able to find the representation that they need as easily as their city-dwelling neighbors do. New York City has the highest number of lawyers in the country although Washington D.C. has the most lawyers per capita. Other top cities include Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Houston.
While the legal field is currently bustling, the number of applicants to law schools also remains high. The job is usually seen as fulfilling despite the stress, and many view the field of law as a great springboard into other professions. Of course, even those who stay in the field have plenty of opportunities to rise in the ranks, working to become partners before heading toward the role of senior partner.
2. Law Is Often the Springboard to Something New
As mentioned, many individuals start in the field of law because of how well it prepares them for other high-powered or highly visible careers. Most notably, many politicians in Washington D.C. as well as in many states across the nation started at law school before changing their focus to politics.
This has been the case for many years with one New York Times article from 1964 detailing how 315 of the 535 current members of Congress were lawyers or had legal training. In fact, lawyers then outranked every other profession among members of Congress. This practice dates back to the beginning of the nation with nearly half of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence had a background in law.
Lawyers still frequently turn to politics these days although not at the rates that they once did. Today, approximately 40% of the members of the United States Congress are lawyers, and nearly half of the last 10 presidents have been members in that field.
Besides politics, many lawyers choose to get into a wide variety of other fields where their vast knowledge bases are put to good use. Those who want less stressful careers or more time with their families may head into finance, business or education or may start their own consulting firms.
3. Law Looks Great on Famous Faces
It is not just politicians who are enjoying second careers on the heels of their law professions. Surprisingly, many celebrities either once were lawyers or began a career in law after they became famous. Some examples include Jerry Springer, Ben Stein, Gerard Butler, Andrea Bocelli, and even Rebel Wilson. Washington Irving and John Grisham prove that authors throughout the years have made their law careers pave the way for their future gripping novels.
Some of these individuals only pursued a career in law because their parents did not initially support their acting aspirations. Others, such as Kim Kardashian, sought to improve their lives, career choices, and minds by tackling these difficult classes later in life.
4. Not All Lawyers Make Huge Salaries
Most people think that the vast majority of lawyers make six-figure salaries based on their hourly charges. However, this is far from the truth as many lawyers work in smaller areas, offer pro bono work, or do not practice law full-time.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly salary for lawyers across the United States is over $126,000 as of 2020, which translates to approximately $61 per hour. However, those working in large metropolitan areas and those who have decades of experience make far more than this annually while those working in the Upper Midwest or less-populated areas of the Southeast make far less.
In addition, a lawyer’s salary is also tied to the area of law in which he or she works. Medical, corporate, immigration, criminal defense, bankruptcy, and trial lawyers are among the highest-paid while those who own their own firms typically make much less.
5. Lawyers Are Envied Rather Than Disliked
One of the most common jokes about lawyers is how much they are disliked. However, this does not seem to be the truth based on surveys that have been done over the years. Most studies show that the general public feels that lawyers are smarter than they are, which can be intimidating. In addition, the legalese often spoken by lawyers can be off-putting but not a true impetus for hate. Therefore, what is usually seen is the envy of the knowledge, salary, and lifestyle that most lawyers have rather than true dislike.
Once individuals are educated on what lawyers do and how they can help in even the most serious of legal cases, they feel much more appreciation for these well-educated professionals. The vast majority of lawyers care far more about their clients’ needs than they do about the amount of money that they pull in on each case.
Digging below the surface of commonly held beliefs reveals these and many other interesting yet little-known facts about lawyers. At Potts Law Firm, attorneys are always available to put their knowledge to work for the betterment of their clients. With numerous key practice areas, including commercial law, criminal law, and construction law, and several locations that serve much of the southern United States and New York, Potts Law Firm is the wise choice for those needing knowledgeable legal professionals on their side.