What Does an Attorney Do, Anyway?

Many students, even those related to attorneys, enter law school with a limited idea of what attorneys actually do. Television legal shows and community “knowledge” create a false sense of familiarity with the profession. The simple truth is that all lawyers are NOT alike. Some lawyers practice frequently in courtrooms while others rarely see the inside of a court. Lawyers work in private practice, local, state and federal government agencies, corporations, for judges (or later as judges) and in non-profit organizations. Some lawyers even work in non-legal fields. The staff of the Career Services Office would like to provide you with factual information that will help you develop your own individualized career plan.

Get started on your very own plan (pdf).

Legal Practice Areas

The law is an almost infinite embodiment of the rules and regulations that govern day-to-day interpersonal and commercial interactions in our society. No one person can know “the law” in its entirety. Therefore, most attorneys spend the bulk of their work-life in specific subsets of practice called “legal practice areas”. These practice areas cover everything from “Aboriginal People” to “Zoning” law and everything in between. The Career Services staff encourages each of you to explore the many different subsets of legal practice. A good online starting point is www.hg.org/practiceareas.html, a website that provides basic information on over 250 legal practice areas. This site gives an overview of state, federal and international laws within each field. It also identifies some of the law firms in each state that practice this type of law. Even a periodic exploration here will help exploring students evaluate types of practice in their own career plans.