If you were to ask dozens of lawyers:
“What does your ordinary day look like in terms of hours and daily tasks?”
You’d likely get a wide array of different responses and learn that no two days are identical in a law practice.
The truth is that how a lawyer’s day looks will largely depend on:
- Practice area
- Size of the firm
- Role within the firm
- Type of work
- Clients’ needs
- Personal work style and preferences
However, there are certain tasks and duties that are a common part of almost every lawyer’s daily routine.
Here’s a look at what a typical day in the life of a lawyer might entail:
- Client meetings and correspondence
Lawyers spend a large portion of their day in meetings and correspondence with clients.
This typically includes:
- Reviewing and responding to clients’ emails
- Engaging in both planned and short, spontaneous phone calls from clients
- Signing new clients and managing existing ones via in-person or online meetings.
In general, lawyers usually devote a lot of time to gathering factual information and collecting case-related evidence from their clients.
Moreover, when communicating with clients, lawyers take time to go over the client’s options, address their concerns, and determine the best course of legal action, depending on their individual needs and goals.
- Legal research and analysis
An important part of a lawyer’s daily tasks and duties is conducting legal research and analysis. This especially applies to associate attorneys who are new to the industry and the law firm.
Namely, it’s a lawyer’s job to research a wide range of case laws, statutes, and other legal materials in order to understand the issues of a given case and properly advise their client.
How is this done? Well, usually, a lawyer will explore various legal databases, use different research tools, and even consult other experts to build the best case possible for their clients.
What’s even more important (and possibly one of the most challenging tasks that a lawyer takes on) is staying up-to-date on the latest legal developments.
This means that a lawyer’s research extends beyond just reading through new legislation and also includes reading legal publications, attending legal education seminars, and networking with other professionals.
- Legal drafting
For lawyers in New York, drafting a wide variety of legal documents like briefs, contracts, and pleadings makes up a great part of their daily routine.
However, their responsibilities go even further than just drafting.
To ensure that these documents are accurate, thorough, and well-written, lawyers must also review them for errors and improper formatting.
Apart from that, legal documents must be edited for conciseness, and they must be easy to understand for anyone who’s reading them.
- Advocating for the client’s interests
Depending on the case and the client’s wishes, a lawyer might find that a settlement negotiation is the best course of legal action in a particular case.
Alternatively, they might find that arguing a case before a judge will yield better results.
Either way, advocating for the client’s interests is no easy feat, and it involves many tasks, including:
- Communicating with the client, the opposing party, and their lawyer
- Discussing settlement options
- Reviewing the terms of a settlement agreement
- Assessing the risks and benefits of a settlement
- Presenting evidence to the court
- Examining witnesses
- Making written or oral legal arguments
- Managing a law practice
Just like any other business, law firms also must manage their business activities and tasks.
For starters, lawyers are often in charge of marketing their practices to attract clients.
Ordinarily, lawyers do this by utilizing different marketing materials, websites, and social media, or by networking with potential clients at legal events.
Other than that, lawyers manage the finances of their practices, by taking on the responsibility of billing their clients and tracking their income and expenses.
As for the HR-related tasks, lawyers are also responsible not only for hiring new legal assistants and paralegals but also for:
- Training/mentoring them
- Managing their payroll, and
- Ensuring that everyone in the firm complies with ethics rules and professional responsibility standards.
Lastly, as tedious as these tasks may seem, you also need to factor in the time that lawyers spend ordering office supplies, keeping mandatory records, and scheduling important appointments.
Overall, there are plenty of day-to-day operations that practices need to manage to keep their business running smoothly.
As you can see, a lawyer’s work is varied and demanding, and if there’s anything you can count on while working as one, it’s the long working hours.
However, if you’re up to the challenge and have strong analytical and communication skills, as well as the ability to work under pressure, a career in law can be incredibly rewarding.