Lawyer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Lawyer, or Attorney, is responsible for using their specialized knowledge of national, state or local laws to help their clients receive fair representation in a court of law. Their duties include meeting with clients to determine their needs, coordinating with Legal Assistants and other legal professionals to compile documents and speaking on behalf of their clients in court.

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Lawyer duties and responsibilities

Lawyers perform many administrative and legal tasks to prepare cases and perform well in court or official proceedings. Their duties and responsibilities often include:

  • Preparing all documents required to file cases, including briefs and other court documents
  • Working closely with team members to prepare a comprehensive brief on each case that goes to trial
  • Scheduling and conducting depositions of witnesses and experts
  • Researching legal concepts, case law, judicial opinions, statutes and regulations
  • Providing proper legal citation and statutory interpretation
  • Maintaining accurate case files, notes and reports 
  • Negotiating cases to meet the needs of the firm and the client
  • Making sure all parties are carrying out their court order sentence and paying the necessary fines
  • Writing legal documents such as contracts, lawsuits, deeds, wills and appeals
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What does a Lawyer do? 

Lawyers typically work for law firms to assist clients in developing a case for criminal or civil court. They work closely with other legal professionals to interview witnesses, review laws or regulations and collect evidence prior to a hearing or trial. Their job is to represent their client in court and interview witnesses on the stand. They may also be responsible for traveling as a part of their job to find witnesses or obtain important documents.

Lawyer skills and qualifications

Lawyers use their transferable soft skills and industry knowledge when working on cases and supporting clients. Some skills and qualifications may include:

  • Professional attitude with a strong sense of discretion to keep sensitive information secure and private
  • Excellent interpersonal communication skills when working with clients, members of the court and other employees
  • Strong organizational abilities and time management skills to handle many cases at once
  • Workable knowledge of word processing, spreadsheet tools, presentation software and other technologies
  • Good research skills and techniques, including using case studies to make supporting claims and arguments
  • Knowledge of various legal contracts, documentation, processes and policies
  • Analytical ability, logical reasoning and sound judgment when professionally handling their clients’ cases
  • In-depth knowledge of their legal specialty, including tax law, real estate, environmental justice and criminal law

Lawyer salary expectations

A Lawyer makes an average salary of $76,695 per year. Salary may depend on level of education, experience and geographical location.

Lawyer education and training requirements

In most states, a Lawyer is required to have graduated from law school and earned a Juris Doctor (JD). They must also pass the bar exam for the state they want to practice in. Law school prepares candidates with in-depth knowledge of local, state and federal laws, the legal system and the responsibilities and limitations of a Lawyer. They also perform in-depth case studies and practice researching, writing and developing arguments. Many candidates also gain practical training through moot court events, practice trials and internships.

Lawyer experience requirements

Entry-level Lawyer candidates likely have completed law school and gained experience through practical learning opportunities and internships. Other entry-level candidates may have 1 to 2 years of experience working as a Lawyer, Legal Assistant or Paralegal. Roles in specialized areas like tax law, finance, health care or corporate law may require candidates to have previous experience. Depending on the complexity of the caseload, many years of experience may be required.

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Frequently asked questions about Lawyers

 

What are the different types of Lawyers?

There are several areas Lawyers can specialize in. Here are some examples of the different types of Lawyer specialties:

  • Environmental Lawyer: Environmental Lawyers work closely with construction companies or corporations to ensure they adhere to environmental laws and regulations.
  • Corporate Lawyer: This professional typically works for corporations on a permanent basis to represent them in lawsuits or other legal situations.
  • Personal Injury Lawyer: Personal Injury Lawyers represent clients who suffer physical or psychological injuries on behalf of another person or entity (company, government agency).
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer: This type of Lawyer works with corporations or individuals to advocate for their use of a patent, trademark or copyrighted materials.
  • Criminal Lawyer: Criminal Lawyers represent clients who committed crimes or had crimes committed against them.
  • Family Lawyer: This type of Lawyer specializes in overseeing adoptions, divorces or custody disputes between families.

 

What are the daily duties of a Lawyer?

On a typical day, a Lawyer starts by speaking with their Secretary or Legal Assistant to receive messages from clients, witnesses or court employees. They respond to time-sensitive messages and review their appointment schedule. Throughout the day, Lawyers work with their legal team to create a case for their client. They interview witnesses and update their clients on their progress. Lawyers may also spend their day in a courtroom to participate in a hearing or trial with their client.

 

What qualities make a good Lawyer?

A good Lawyer is someone who has excellent written and verbal communication. These qualities enable them to compose motions in pre-trial hearings and allows them to speak before a Judge, jurors and a court audience. They also have the ability to persuade others through their speech in order to plea their client’s case in a courtroom. Further, a good Lawyer has compassion for their clients but knows how to maintain professional boundaries. This means that they can sympathize with their client while refraining from developing personal relationships.

A good Lawyer also has an investigative mindset that motivates them to review evidence, track down witnesses and perform tests to either support or deny a claim.

 

Who does a Lawyer report to?

Lawyers who work for law firms typically report directly to the Firm Manager to receive case assignments. If a Lawyer operates a private practice, they may report directly to their client and indirectly to their state’s bar association to uphold legal practices.

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