How do I become a lawyer?
Whether it is a claim for damages, a maintenance claim or a murder charge – as a lawyer, you represent the interests of your clients and try to influence the judge’s judgment in their favor. If you want to become a lawyer, you first have to study law for around 9 semesters, which you complete with the first state examination. You will then complete the 2-year preparatory service, also known as legal clerkship, until you pass your second state examination. You then register with the respective bar association in whose district you want to work in the future. You also take an oath and finally receive the certificate of approval to advise clients as a lawyer on legal issues.
Starting salary as a lawyer
What you earn at the beginning of your professional career primarily depends on whether you work for a law firm or set up your own business. Because as a freelancer, your income depends largely on the order situation and the number of your clients.
As an employee of a small to medium-sized law firm, you can expect around $ 3,900 to $ 4,580 gross per month. Top salaries of up to $ 8,000 are possible for highly qualified applicants in large law firms right from the start.
Salary based on work experience
Various factors make it difficult to predict your future income as a lawyer. As with the starting salaries, your earning potential in the further years depends on your employer or the size of the law firm. The respective area of law in which you have specialized also has a major influence on your monthly billing. On average, you can expect a gross monthly income of around $ 5,190 for the first 5 years. After 10 years it will be around $ 5,950.
Salary by state
As a lawyer in the old federal states, primarily in Baden-Württemberg and Hesse, you can expect a relatively high gross monthly salary of $ 6160 and $ 6170 respectively. In contrast, your income is slightly lower in a few states. This amounts to an average of $ 4,340 gross per month.
What does every day work look like?
The following exemplary daily routine shows you what your everyday work as a licensed lawyer could look like:
You enter the office where you work with several other lawyers. On your desk, there may be notes about missed calls, legal notices, and other mail from your secretary that you look through.
Then, you get off of your workplace and reach to the local court for an appointment. There you will meet your client who has been demanding maintenance payments from her divorced husband for the past year and a half. In the negotiation you come to an agreement with the opposing party. Since the defendant has been unemployed for a long time, he should only pay half the sum and in future transfer a significantly lower monthly rate to his ex-wife.
When you get back to the office, you speak the results of the court hearing into your dictation machine and have the oral text written down using software on your computer. You attach the finished report in the appropriate file folder and also send a copy to your client.
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After the lunch break, you work on a file that contains a complaint from the competent court. In this, the plaintiff accuses one of your clients that he stole several garden tools from the shed. In your written answer to the allegations, you credibly demonstrate that the accused received the equipment from his neighbor as a gift.
Another client will then appear in your law firm as agreed. He was the victim of a traffic accident and is now entitled to compensation for pain and suffering as well as additional payments for his lost earnings. You explain to him in detail his financial claims and finally give him an outlook on the further course of the procedure.
You use the remaining working time to further prepare for an upcoming process. Since you appear there as a criminal defense lawyer in a murder case, you work meticulously on your plea with which you want to exonerate the accused.
You say goodbye to your colleagues and make your way home.
What does a lawyer do?
Defend or represent clients in court
If there is a main hearing in a dispute, you stand up for your client in court. On the basis of the applicable laws, you usually try to enforce their claims, such as the payment of compensation for pain and suffering or an inheritance amount. In a criminal case, on the other hand, you act as the defendant’s defense, while the public prosecutor’s office takes on the indictment. If you are convicted, you face a penalty that you want to prevent or at least mitigate if possible.
Advising clients in the law firm
In addition to the organizational and administrative tasks at your desk, you also regularly receive clients in your office. You may find many cases of crime, you will advise them on various legal questions via a personal conversation, describe the further course of the proceedings, such as chapter 7 bankruptcy, or explain once again what exactly the judge’s judgment means for them.
Edit case files
Between court appointments, you work on the files of your legal cases. You check legal deadlines, for example, by when you can submit a response to a lawsuit at the latest. In addition, you prepare various documents in which you, for example, inform your client about the latest developments or make a well-founded claim to the opposing litigation party. You can continue reading here to learn more about it.
What qualities should I have?
- Analytical skills – 9/10
- Resilience – 8/10
- Organizational talent – 7/10
- Communication strength – 10/10
- Social skills – 8/10
What are the job prospects?
In the legal industry, good grades are very important for entry and further careers. Specifically, this means that as an applicant with at least 9 points in one or, best of all, two state exams, you have a significantly higher chance of getting a job. If you do not find work in a law firm, you can also set up your own and become self-employed. However, this is a difficult undertaking, especially for young professionals, as you do not yet have a network of clients that will enable you to make a secure living.