What do lawyers do?

There are over 1.1 million lawyers in the US. There are many ways to categorize them. For example:
  • By their function: There are trial or litigation lawyers, and there are transactional lawyers--that is there are lawyers who live and love go to court, and those who think they have failed if their client ever gets near a courtroom
  • By their type of employer: There are lawyers who work for private law firms (private practice) and those who work for government or corporations
  • By size of firm, from sole practitioner up to firms with thousands of attorneys in many branches all over the world.
  • By whether they practice at all: There are lawyers who practice law and those who do something else, such as becoming authors, teachers, or wandering minstrels.
  • By area of practice, such as civil or criminal, and still further into sub-specialities
  • By their type of client: do they represent institutions or people? Do they represent rich people or ordinary folks?

Can I sue the law school if I don't get a job?


It has been tried, several times. So far all cases have been dismissed. A judge in one case said: "The bottom line is that the statistics provided by Cooley and other law schools in a format required by the ABA were so vague and incomplete as to be meaningless and could not reasonably be relied upon. But, as put in the phrase we lawyers learn early in law school–caveat emptor."


The best way to learn about this is to do some web surfing. Start with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They have lots of useful information on what lawyers do.