1. People don’t like lawyers. Lawyers are not nurses or Salvation Army charity workers. If you decide to pursue a career in the law, you will not necessarily go to heaven.
2. Not all lawyers make a lot of money. If you work in a small legal aid practice in Liverpool, the pay is very different to that of a high-flying mergers and acquisitions lawyer in the City of London.
3. Being a lawyer can be very boring. However glamorous it might appear to be on a television series such as Silk, the reality is often very different. Toiling for years in the suburbs as a residential conveyancer does not really carry the same kudos as being a top QC. Do not confuse fiction with fact.
4. The law is not a great career for women wishing to raise a family. Although lawyers pay lip service to the laws against sex discrimination there is something of a “glass ceiling” for women who try to juggle babies and a legal career.
5. If you do work in the high-pressure environment of a top law firm, the hours can be very anti-social indeed. It is not uncommon for high-ranking firms of solicitors to demand 2,500 hours per year from their trainees and assistants. There is culture within such firms that frowns upon leaving early (ie. 8pm) and in which it is perceived as macho to be ordering pizza at midnight and working until the early hours.
6. There are a lot of unemployed lawyers. It may once have been the case that all roads to a career in the law were paved with gold but that is no longer the case. Lots of law firms have been hit by the financial downturn in the UK economy and this has meant that far fewer are hiring new trainees compared to five years ago. Furthermore, large numbers of those who were lucky enough to get a job have either not been taken on after training or have been made redundant.
7. If you are after fresh air, a job in the law is probably not for you. For many lawyers, their daily routine is sedentary and somewhat desk bound. The greatest moment of excitement in the lives of some lawyers is when they have a heart attack at 55.
8. Lawyers get sued. That may sound somewhat ironic but it is true. There is a high degree of professional responsibility that accompanies a job in the law. If you make a big mistake, you may well find yourself on the wrong end of a claim.
9. If you are fussy about what to wear at work, do not become a lawyer. Wigs and funny outfits still survive in some quarters and if you manage to avoid the funny attire, it is all very boring – suits and ties are the order of the day.
10. Last but not least, being a lawyer can be very lonely. This is particularly so for barristers, since no one will hold your hand in court or on those late nights when you are burning the midnight oil.
To read more from Jasper Griegson, follow his blog on: www.yell.com