What do lawyers do?

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meandme
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What do lawyers do?

Postby meandme » Fri May 11, 2012 5:00 pm

Ok this may seem like a silly question, But would someone please tell me what a lawyer's typical work week looks like. I know its going to be different for someone working in big firm compared to someone working in small firm. Or better yet what tv show is comparable to what actually lawyers do.

Thank you
God bless

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Detrox
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Re: What do lawyers do?

Postby Detrox » Fri May 11, 2012 5:02 pm

Suits. Followed closely by Franklin and Bash. Then Ally McBeal, but I prefer Single Female Lawyer.

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laxbrah420
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Re: What do lawyers do?

Postby laxbrah420 » Fri May 11, 2012 5:04 pm

I've been told Private Practice is as close to a documentary style as any could hope to get...due to privacy laws and such

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2014
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Re: What do lawyers do?

Postby 2014 » Sat May 12, 2012 12:25 pm

Lots of paperwork.

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Julio_El_Chavo
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Re: What do lawyers do?

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Sat May 12, 2012 4:40 pm

Imagine reading the phone book carefully and meticulously for 10 hours every day. Now imagine your job is even more boring than this but with the added stress of your boss, the client, and opposing counsel yelling at you every few hours.

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howlery
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Re: What do lawyers do?

Postby howlery » Sat May 12, 2012 6:12 pm

I've heard its a lot like The Good Wife. Don't you want to have kids with Chris Noth?

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Grad_Student
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Re: What do lawyers do?

Postby Grad_Student » Sun May 13, 2012 10:41 pm

How about some real answers.

I work for a large city as a city attorney. My job encompasses a lot of different things but my focus is on gang injunction enforcement. We have 4 different injunctions in place to combat gangs. I do police ride alongs to determine how well the injunction is working, file motions for contempt when gang members violate the injunction and sometimes try cases.

Different stuff all the time.

Renzo
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Re: What do lawyers do?

Postby Renzo » Sun May 13, 2012 11:10 pm

I'm fresh out of stupid jokes, but I've worked in three very different legal environments, and can offer a slightly more helpful answer.

First, I worked in a general counsel's office of a large national nonprofit, in Washington. Most of my time, and the time of the attorney I worked with, was spent going to meetings with political advocates who wanted a law changed or passed. We would then go back to the office, I'd spend a few days doing research on the state of the law as it is, what it would take to get they change they wanted (new legislation, executive order, simple decision by a low-level administrator, etc.), and who could do it for them (governor, state agency, federal agency, etc). I'd write a memo explaining all this, then the attorney I worked under would write a memo summarizing my findings and adding his own thoughts about the likelihood of getting it done, and what procedure to take if they wanted to pursue it.

Second, I worked in a large Wall Street firm and did work in several departments, but here's some examples of what life as a low-level junior is like: 1) Spent three days doing nothing but replacing terms in a document using ctrl-f. 2) Read and summarized the terms of a bunch of property leases, and put these summaries into a chart. 3) researched small, technical points of law and summarized my findings in a memo so that a more senior attorney would know how to handle those issues if they came up in a negotiation or argument. 5) sat in the room during a deposition and handed documents to someone else as the other side made references to them 6) carried a binder to a multi-party conference where we sat with like 30 other attorneys for 10 hours, during which no one from my firm said or did anything.

Third, I worked in a smallish law firm. It was the most like TV lawyering. The attorneys there were in court almost every day, and if they weren't it was because they were conducting depositions. Even the junior attorneys were expected to handle their own cases. Usually they would go get their court appearances out of the way in the morning, then come back in the afternoon and work on writing motions to file with the courts, making phone calls to try and settle cases, planning tomorrow's depositions, etc.

skitlets
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Re: What do lawyers do?

Postby skitlets » Mon May 14, 2012 4:54 pm

Renzo wrote:I'm fresh out of stupid jokes, but I've worked in three very different legal environments, and can offer a slightly more helpful answer.

First, I worked in a general counsel's office of a large national nonprofit, in Washington. Most of my time, and the time of the attorney I worked with, was spent going to meetings with political advocates who wanted a law changed or passed. We would then go back to the office, I'd spend a few days doing research on the state of the law as it is, what it would take to get they change they wanted (new legislation, executive order, simple decision by a low-level administrator, etc.), and who could do it for them (governor, state agency, federal agency, etc). I'd write a memo explaining all this, then the attorney I worked under would write a memo summarizing my findings and adding his own thoughts about the likelihood of getting it done, and what procedure to take if they wanted to pursue it.


Did you land this right out of law school? Very interested in the kind of work you did.

BearsGrl
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Re: What do lawyers do?

Postby BearsGrl » Mon May 14, 2012 5:04 pm

Renzo wrote:I'm fresh out of stupid jokes, but I've worked in three very different legal environments, and can offer a slightly more helpful answer.

First, I worked in a general counsel's office of a large national nonprofit, in Washington. Most of my time, and the time of the attorney I worked with, was spent going to meetings with political advocates who wanted a law changed or passed. We would then go back to the office, I'd spend a few days doing research on the state of the law as it is, what it would take to get they change they wanted (new legislation, executive order, simple decision by a low-level administrator, etc.), and who could do it for them (governor, state agency, federal agency, etc). I'd write a memo explaining all this, then the attorney I worked under would write a memo summarizing my findings and adding his own thoughts about the likelihood of getting it done, and what procedure to take if they wanted to pursue it.

Second, I worked in a large Wall Street firm and did work in several departments, but here's some examples of what life as a low-level junior is like: 1) Spent three days doing nothing but replacing terms in a document using ctrl-f. 2) Read and summarized the terms of a bunch of property leases, and put these summaries into a chart. 3) researched small, technical points of law and summarized my findings in a memo so that a more senior attorney would know how to handle those issues if they came up in a negotiation or argument. 5) sat in the room during a deposition and handed documents to someone else as the other side made references to them 6) carried a binder to a multi-party conference where we sat with like 30 other attorneys for 10 hours, during which no one from my firm said or did anything.

Third, I worked in a smallish law firm. It was the most like TV lawyering. The attorneys there were in court almost every day, and if they weren't it was because they were conducting depositions. Even the junior attorneys were expected to handle their own cases. Usually they would go get their court appearances out of the way in the morning, then come back in the afternoon and work on writing motions to file with the courts, making phone calls to try and settle cases, planning tomorrow's depositions, etc.


So you were a lobbyist of sorts?

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howlery
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Re: What do lawyers do?

Postby howlery » Mon May 14, 2012 5:07 pm

skitlets wrote:
Renzo wrote:I'm fresh out of stupid jokes, but I've worked in three very different legal environments, and can offer a slightly more helpful answer.

First, I worked in a general counsel's office of a large national nonprofit, in Washington. Most of my time, and the time of the attorney I worked with, was spent going to meetings with political advocates who wanted a law changed or passed. We would then go back to the office, I'd spend a few days doing research on the state of the law as it is, what it would take to get they change they wanted (new legislation, executive order, simple decision by a low-level administrator, etc.), and who could do it for them (governor, state agency, federal agency, etc). I'd write a memo explaining all this, then the attorney I worked under would write a memo summarizing my findings and adding his own thoughts about the likelihood of getting it done, and what procedure to take if they wanted to pursue it.


Did you land this right out of law school? Very interested in the kind of work you did.

+1. Was this after a big law stint? If not, what steps did you take in LS to get this?

BearsGrl
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Re: What do lawyers do?

Postby BearsGrl » Mon May 14, 2012 5:11 pm

howlery wrote:
skitlets wrote:
Renzo wrote:I'm fresh out of stupid jokes, but I've worked in three very different legal environments, and can offer a slightly more helpful answer.

First, I worked in a general counsel's office of a large national nonprofit, in Washington. Most of my time, and the time of the attorney I worked with, was spent going to meetings with political advocates who wanted a law changed or passed. We would then go back to the office, I'd spend a few days doing research on the state of the law as it is, what it would take to get they change they wanted (new legislation, executive order, simple decision by a low-level administrator, etc.), and who could do it for them (governor, state agency, federal agency, etc). I'd write a memo explaining all this, then the attorney I worked under would write a memo summarizing my findings and adding his own thoughts about the likelihood of getting it done, and what procedure to take if they wanted to pursue it.


Did you land this right out of law school? Very interested in the kind of work you did.

+1. Was this after a big law stint? If not, what steps did you take in LS to get this?


A classmate of someone I know went to work for an advocacy type group based in DC. He didn't live or go to school in DC and he didn't even attend a top-notch school. I don't know what this individual specifically did during his 1L and 2L but I know that he earned a certificate while in school. Think of it as a lobbyist role. Tons of these opportunities exist in DC.

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hyakku
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Re: What do lawyers do?

Postby hyakku » Mon May 14, 2012 6:16 pm

I've worked in a small (think one partner, used to be two) firm. Mostly civil litigation stuff and bankruptcy. His day would vary. Some days he'd be at the courts with clients, other days would be spent taking depositions, dictating stuff to have me type, reviewing case evidence for his clients, etc. The menial stuff was handled by me or another assistant (mail stuff, typing up dictations, basic document review for errors, etc.), more robust stuff was handled by the paralegals. I don't know as much about what they did although I got to learn a bit. In a small firm they seem to play the role of paralegal and receptionist/assistant as well.

One of the biggest things I took away that I think would be applicable to any type of firm would be that a paralegal can be pretty invaluable if they're good and you've got a good relationship with them. I doubt this guy could've handled his volume of work without them (he had a pretty large book since he had been doing this for 40+ years). I could be wrong though.

Renzo
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Re: What do lawyers do?

Postby Renzo » Mon May 14, 2012 7:57 pm

howlery wrote:
skitlets wrote:
Renzo wrote:First, I worked in a general counsel's office of a large national nonprofit, in Washington. Most of my time, and the time of the attorney I worked with, was spent going to meetings with political advocates who wanted a law changed or passed. We would then go back to the office, I'd spend a few days doing research on the state of the law as it is, what it would take to get they change they wanted (new legislation, executive order, simple decision by a low-level administrator, etc.), and who could do it for them (governor, state agency, federal agency, etc). I'd write a memo explaining all this, then the attorney I worked under would write a memo summarizing my findings and adding his own thoughts about the likelihood of getting it done, and what procedure to take if they wanted to pursue it.


Did you land this right out of law school? Very interested in the kind of work you did.

+1. Was this after a big law stint? If not, what steps did you take in LS to get this?



I should have been clearer: these were all law clerk positions while I was in school. But to try and answer all the questions; the legal office didn't directly do any lobbying, but the organization did. There were lobbyists (a few of whom were law school grads) who came to the office of legal counsel for advice on who to lobby and what to ask for. Sometimes they would accompany the policy advocacy people to meetings where lawyers were needed, for example when asking a federal agency to reconsider an interpretation of a statute.

There were about 25 lawyers (working as lawyers) in the organization, and all of them had fairly impressive credentials. The hiring they did was of two kinds: First, they hired a few fellows for one or two year stints every year, depending on funding and need. Not all of these fellows could be brought on full time, but a small number were. The rest generally went to work for organizations with similar missions, or to law firms that did work in the same sector more generally. Outside of the fellows, the organization tended to hire experienced attorneys who had made a name for themselves as a 'true believer' in the organizations mission, either with a similar organization, as former fellows, as academics, as governmental officials, etc.




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