5 Things You Need to Know about Practicing Law in Chicago

New graduates from law school have a lot to think about. They have worked hard for three years to obtain their Juris Doctor (J.D.) to practice law. However, before you place a shingle on the door to practice law in Chicago, you need to know these five things:

You Must Be Admitted to the Bar in Illinois

You must pass the Illinois bar to practice law in Chicago. The Illinois Board of Admissions to The Bar administers the bar examination. If you are admitted to practice in another state, you might qualify for the Illinois Bar without taking the bar exam.

Carefully Weigh Your Areas of Practice

Instead of taking the first job offer you receive, consider what areas of law you loved and hated during law school. You will be happier and more successful if you choose a practice area you enjoy.

For example, you might have a passion for helping injured people. If so, being a personal injury lawyer in Chicago might work best for you. However, if you have a strong desire to help people who fall on hard times, bankruptcy law might be a better option.

You Will Experience a Learning Curve

During law school, you learn about legal theories and laws. However, practicing law is very different from learning about the law.

You may realize that your paralegal or legal secretary knows more about preparing and filing documents than you do. Take every opportunity to learn from all members of the legal staff. You can learn a lot from your support staff during your first year practicing law.

You May Not Spend Much Time in the Courtroom

Many law students dream about arguing cases in court. While some attorneys spend a great deal of time in the courtroom, it is more likely that you will not spend as much time in court as you thought.

Lawyers spend much of their time investigating the facts and circumstances of the cases they handle. They research case law and statutes to build a strategy for pursuing or defending a case. Most cases are settled through negotiations and mediation.

Trial lawyers hone their courtroom skills through years of practice. Working for a law firm where you can be the second chair for most cases that go to trial gives you a lot of experience you can use when you are ready to handle trials as the lead attorney.

Some Clients Will Never Be Satisfied

Even though you prepare your client for the possible outcomes in their case, a client may not be satisfied. You might obtain a settlement that exceeds your expectations, but the client wants more.

Learn how to manage your client’s expectations early in your career. Be honest and transparent about the possible issues you foresee in the case so your client is not taken by surprise if a problem arises. Promising or guaranteeing a specific outcome in a case is never a good practice.

One Final Thought About Practicing Law in Chicago, IL

Practicing law is a rewarding career. You make a difference in someone’s life, whether seeking a personal injury settlement or defending someone in criminal court. Your clients trust and depend on you to work diligently to protect their best interests.

However, you need a healthy work-life balance. The balance is up to you. Many lawyers beginning their careers as associates will work long hours. Your place of employment and the area of law you practice can impact your working hours.

Taking steps to protect your physical and mental health is essential. If you do nothing but work, you risk becoming burnt out before you advance your legal career.

If you have questions about practicing law in Chicago, ask an experienced lawyer. For instance, if you enjoy personal injury law in school, meet with attorneys who practice personal injury law in Chicago. Talk with them about their practice and the steps that helped them succeed. Learning from an experienced, successful attorney is invaluable in the early stages of your law career. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *