"No brilliance is required in law, just common sense and relatively clean fingernails."
While searching for the perfect quote to begin this explanation of what lawyers really do, I faced the same problem I'm sure a lot of other people must have faced down the ages: people simply do not have nice things to say about lawyers! While jokes, one-liners and snide-asides aimed at lawyers abound, not many people have taken the time to explain in simple words the work that lawyers perform on an everyday basis!
Fortunately, you won't have to look much further than the quote above. At the most basic level, lawyers apply common sense to everyday and extraordinary situations alike. If you're smart, think well on your feet, and love proving your point, the law is for you!
Whether it's an intricate issue of constitutional law that will help preserve our fundamental rights, or a matter involving a simple traffic violation, a lawyer is called upon to resolve conflicts between people through the application of simple, everyday, common sense.
Lawyers do this in various places, and through different means. The most familiar image, of course, if of lawyers screaming their lungs out in courts of law, wearing what looks to some of us like a tacky black bathrobe more than anything else! Litigating lawyers, as these lawyers are called, represent their clients in court. Litigating lawyers are called upon to argue various kinds of issues, ranging from property matters to criminal matters, constitutional issues to matters of family law. Black and white and vociferous, these lawyers argue the law to make sure that their clients' interests are represented in the best possible manner before those that will decide matters of a whole lot of importance to a whole lot of people.
Other lawyers work with corporate houses, or in law firms that service corporates. Here, lawyers work mainly as facilitators, helping companies work smoothly, efficiently, and within the boundaries of the law. Lawyers help business work in the best possible manner, and are an extremely important part of any business transaction. Huge mergers, large stock market issues, and foreign investments are all very cool to talk about, but unless you have someone who understands how these things work, and can get them done in the best possible way, all you'll ever do is talk about them! Simply put, without lawyers, many corporates would find themselves struggling to understand how to actually put their ideas in place. Lawyers make it happen!
Lawyers are sometimes also referred to as 'social engineers'. As you would know, our society, the way we live, and what we do everyday, are all loosely bound by a mesh of rules that we call 'laws'. It is the job of lawyers to understand these rules, and to help people live their lives most meaningfully. Many lawyers help people in distress, advocating areas that they are concerned about, such as child rights, women's issues, or the protection of refugees. If you really want to make a difference to people's lives, if you're actually concerned about something, and if you actually want to go out there and get something done right, this is the way to go for you!!!
Aside from these, lawyers today work with people from every walk of life, interpreting laws, applying legal principles, and, above all, helping people tackle problems on every scale. Simply put, an ideal lawyer is a smart, intelligent person who applies common sense to common and uncommon problems alike, and helps people find their paths out of the wilderness.
Thinking about being a lawyer? Good idea!