Obtain funding to attend a 4-year university. Grants and student loans are the primary method of funding for most universities. You will need to complete 4 years of college and earn a bachelor's degree before you can apply to law school. It does not particularly matter what course of study your degree is in, although a degree in criminal justice will be most in tune with the career path of becoming a criminal lawyer.Pass the state bar exam. Each state has its own exam. You will need to pass this exam in the state(s) where you intend to practice law. The bar exam is often described as being the hardest test you will ever take, and many people have to take the exam several times before they receive a passing grade. After passing this exam, you will receive a license to practice law, and can begin to practice criminal law in that state


National Salary Data

$43,620 - $145,981

$498.09 - $25,258

Profit Sharing
$1,481 - $41,059

$0.00 - $40,963

Total Pay )
$44,038 - $171,596


It depends on the job. Private practice tends to be the most stressful and can be among the most stressful careers out there.

For junior lawyers, it often entails long hours (in some big law firms 60 hours a week and 3000 hours a year is not unusual) and even for firms that don't require lawyers to clock that many hours, lawyers live in what is known as a billable hour culture. Law firms make their money by billing the services of their attorneys by the hour and lawyers are valued by the number of hours they bill so it creates a working environment where most lawyers are literally required to account for every 6 to 15 minutes of their workday for at least 8 hours a day on a timekeeping system.

On top of that, more senior lawyers who are partners in a law firm have the pressures of running the firm as a business, spending additional ours maintaining and developing client relations, and handling all the executive administrative responsibilities and overhead issues.

The hours can vary though as some smaller law firms have a business model that does not require continuous long hours at work because it is not extremely ambitious in terms of maximizing profits. The flip side is of course that those law firms don't offer as much income as the other firms.

sample contract between client and attorney

working on a Contract


This Attorney/Client Contract for Representation and Professional Services ("Contract") is

entered into on this this day of , 200, by and between

_ ("Client") and Daniel A. Laufer, Esquire ("Laufer").

1. Effective Date. This Contract will take effect upon acceptance by Laufer

following execution by Client, but its effective date shall be retroactive to the date Laufer first

provided services to Client in connection with the matter described at Section 2 below. The date

at the beginning of this Contract is for reference only, and is to be used or construed for no other

purpose. In the event that this Contract is not signed by client or otherwise does not take effect

Client shall be obligated to pay Laufer the reasonable value of any services Laufer may have

performed for Client.

2. Scope and General Duties. Client retains Laufer to provide legal services in

connection with representing Client in the following matter: . Client

expressly acknowledges that Laufer has no obligation to represent, defend or otherwise give

Client any advice, counsel or assistance in any other matter outside of or beyond said scope

except as expressly set out in a new attorney-client agreement between Client and Laufer or an

additional writing amending this Contract. Laufer is not obligated under this Contract to

represent Client in any appeal of a ruling or decision involving or implicating the matter described

in said scope to any higher court or other adjudicatory authority except as expressly set out in a

new attorney-client agreement between Client and Laufer or an additional writing amending this

Contract. Laufer shall provide those services reasonably required to represent Client, and shall

take reasonable steps to keep Client informed of the progress of the requested legal work and

shall respond within a reasonable time to inquiries made by Client. Client shall be truthful with

Laufer, cooperate with Laufer, keep Laufer informed of developments affecting the

representation, abide by this Contract, pay Lauferís bills on time, and keep Laufer advised of

Client's current address and telephone number.

3. Retainer. Client will deposit with Laufer funds in the amount of

_Dollars ($_,000) as Clientís retainer with Laufer at the time of

execution of this Contract. Funds from this retainer, which shall be maintained by Laufer in his

Client Trust Account, shall be applied by Laufer against fees and costs billed to Client in

accordance with Section 7 below. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Laufer may immediately apply

funds from Clientís retainer against any and all fees for work performed in advance of the making

of this Contract, and may further directly pay from retainer to a third party any costs, such as,

without limit, filing fees, charges for service of process and the like, incurred by Client in

connection with Clientís representation by Laufer. Laufer may elect, at its sole option and in its

sole discretion, to require Client to deposit additional monies into retainer on thirty (30) days

notice to Client. Any balance of retainer monies remaining at the conclusion of the representation

contemplated hereunder shall be promptly refunded by Laufer to Client. -2-

4. Legal Fees. Laufer will charge, and Client agrees to pay for representation and

legal services provided by the Firm at the rate of Two Hundred Dollars ($225.00) an hour.

Paralegal time shall be billed at the rate of Seventy Five Dollars ($75.00) an hour. Laufer will

charge for time expended on behalf of Client in minimum units of one-tenth (.1) hours, which is

six (6) minutes.

5. Costs and Expenses.

a. Ongoing Costs and Expenses. Client shall reimburse Firm for all costs and

expenses incurred in the course of Clientís representation by Firm, including, but not limited to,

the following:

Item Cost

Computerized legal research (Westlaw, other on-line) $25.00 per hour, or

actual cost if greater

Consultants' fees Actual cost

Court reporters' fees Actual cost

Delivery service (FedEx, etc.) Actual cost

Electronic transfers Actual cost

Expert witness fees Actual cost

Fees fixed by law or assessed by courts or other agencies Actual cost

Investigation expenses Actual cost

Long distance telephone calls Actual cost

Messenger, courier and other ìby handî delivery fees $10.00 per delivery,

or actual cost if


Parking Actual cost


In-office $.15 per page

Out of office photocopying Actual cost

Process servers' fees Actual cost

Postage Actual cost

Return check fee $25.00

Lodging Actual cost

Mileage $.375 per mile

Ticketed or metered (Air, taxi) Actual cost

Any costs and expenses not listed above will be billed to Client at the amount paid by Laufer in

obtaining or providing them. Laufer reserves the right, from time to time and at its sole option, to

establish or change amounts for costs and expenses on thirty (30) days written notice to Client.

Laufer further reserves the right, from time to time and at its sole option, to require prepayment

of any cost or expense contemplated in this Section.

6. Statements. Laufer shall send Client monthly itemized statements for fees and

costs incurred in connection for any hourly work performed. The itemization will include

separate time entries for each day billable work is done and separate entries for each major or

non-routine item of cost. Minor cost items such as photocopies, postal, delivery and courier

charges will be aggregated as of the last day of the billing period. -3-

7. Payment of Fees and Costs by Client. Client will promptly pay the balance due as

shown on the current statement. Costs and fees shall be assessed first against any retainer paid by

Client, and Laufer may withdraw such funds from its trust account on the date of the statement to

Client reflecting such costs and fees without requirement of further notice to Client. Client shall

be considered to have promptly paid a statement balance if payment of the entire balance due and

payable shall have been received by Laufer within twenty (20) days of the date of the statement

reflecting said balance. All checks are accepted subject to negotiation at the financial institution

on which the check is drawn. Any statement not paid promptly by Client in accordance with the

foregoing shall give Laufer good cause for any and all actions with regards to Client that are

necessary and appropriate, to include, without limit, the imposition of reasonable interest charges

and withdrawal from representation of Client per Section 8 following. Laufer may, in its sole

discretion, commence charging interest at the rate of one percent (1%) per month or portion of a

month on any balance with Laufer that is in excess of sixty (60) days past due beyond the

statement date. In the event there is litigation regarding the collection of fees, Laufer shall be

awarded all reasonable attorneysí fees and costs in connection with such action.

8. Termination of Contract.

a. By Client. Client may discharge Laufer at any time. In such event, Laufer

shall prepare and present Client with a final statement reflecting the total balance due on

concluding its representation efforts on behalf of Client. Client shall have thirty (30) days from

the date of such statement to pay the balance due. Any balance remaining unpaid after thirty (30)

days shall provide Laufer good cause to take any and all action reasonable and appropriate with

regard to Client in securing the balance remaining due.

b. By Laufer. Laufer may withdraw with Client's consent, or for good cause.

Good cause includes any material breach by Client of this Contract and expressly includes,

without limit, nonpayment of legal fees after demand for payment by Laufer or Client's refusal to

cooperate with Laufer or follow Lauferís's advice on a material matter or matter of law.

c. Discharge or Withdrawal When Laufer has Appeared. Client expressly

acknowledges the understanding that, if Laufer shall have entered an appearance as Clientís

attorneys-of-record before a court or other adjudicatory authority, said court or tribunal retains

final authority as to whether Laufer shall be permitted, as appropriate under the circumstances, to

be discharged or to withdraw, and until such time as an order providing for such is entered,

Laufer is legally required and obligated to continue to represent Client in the matter. Client

further acknowledges Clientís understanding and agreement that, pending approval of any such

motion for discharge or withdrawal, Client is and remains obligated for attorneyís fees and costs

in connection with all work done by Laufer through the time of receipt by Laufer of the order

granting the motion.

d. On Completion of Representation. This Contract shall terminate

automatically when all matters pertaining to the representation set out in section 2 above have

been completed by Laufer. On such event, Laufer, in its sole discretion, may send Client a file -4-

closing letter, but any failure by Laufer to send such a letter shall not have any bearing on the

conclusion of the representation. Client expressly acknowledges that Laufer has no obligation to

represent, defend or otherwise give Client any advice, counsel or assistance in any other matter

outside of the representation set out in section 2 except as expressly set out in a new attorneyclient agreement between Client and Laufer. Client further acknowledges that every situation

involving legal representation is unique, and the agreement by Laufer to any particular term or

condition in this Contract does not obligate Laufer to extend the same or a similar term or

condition in any other attorney-client agreement between Client and Laufer.

e. Copying of Client File. Following termination of Clientís representation by

Laufer under this Contract for any reason whatsoever, should Client request Clientís file, or

should any other person or entity request Clientís file on Clientís behalf, Client agrees to pay prior

to delivery of the file the cost of copying the file at either Lauferís regular rate for copying or, in

Lauferís sole discretion, the actual cost of having the file copied by a copy service. Client

understands and acknowledges that Firmís practice is to send any file in excess of fifty (50) pages

out to a copy service following such a request for copying.

9. Disclaimer of Guarantee. Nothing in this Contract and nothing in Laufer's

statements to Client shall be construed to be a promise or guarantee about the outcome of Client's

matter, as described in Section 2 above. Client expressly acknowledges Laufer has made

no such promises or guarantees to Client. Laufer's comments with regard to any possible

outcome of Client's matter prior to actual resolution are necessarily speculative in nature, and

Client relies upon any such comments at Client's sole risk, subject to LAufer's ethical obligations

to Client in this regard.

10. Laws of Massachusetts or New Hampshire Apply. Depending upon the residence

of the client and the location of the court/tribunal in connection with the matter described in

Section 2, this Contract shall be governed by the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or

the State of New Hampshire.

11. Venue. Client expressly acknowledges that Norfolk County Superior Court in

Dedham, Massachusetts (for Clients who are Massachusetts residents or whose matter is pending

there) or the Hillsborough Superior Court, Northern Division, in Manchester, New Hampshire

(for Clients who are New Hampshire residents or have a matter pending there) shall be the venue

for any and all proceedings arising under, or as a result of, this Contract.

12. Construction of Terms. The following terms used in this Contract shall receive the

following construction.

a. Laufer. Laufer shall mean any attorney, employee, agent or other duly

authorized person or entity acting on behalf of Laufer.

b. Masculine references shall be deemed to include feminine references, and


c. Singular references shall be deemed to include plural references, and viceversa.

13. Modification. Any modification to this Contract shall be in writing.

14. Full Explanation and Understanding; Entire Agreement. Client expressly

acknowledges being informed by Laufer that entering this Contract imposes substantial

obligations on Client. Client further acknowledges that Laufer has offered Client the opportunity

to have any and all provisions of this Contract fully and carefully explained to Client and that, if

such explanation was requested, Laufer did in fact make such full and careful explanation. Client

further acknowledges that Client was offered the opportunity to review this Contract at Clientís

leisure and/or with any third person with whom Client would see fit to consult and that, if such

opportunity was requested, Laufer did in fact allow Client to do so. Client finally acknowledges

that Client fully understands and comprehends each and every provision of this Contract, and that

this Contract represents the entire agreement between Laufer and Client in connection with the

legal services provided to Client by Laufer as described in Section 2 above.

Client, by the signature first appearing below, hereby agrees to the terms, provisions and

requirements of this Contract.

Accepted by Client at , _ this _ day

of _ 200.

[client name]

Accepted by Laufer this _ day of 200.


By: __

Daniel A. Laufer

New Hampshire Bar No. 1439

Massachusetts B. B. O. No. 557633



  1. There is the potential (though by no means a guarantee) to make quite a lot of money as a lawyer
  2. Your education continues throughout your career - because the law changes constantly, and lawyers have to remain up to speed on the latest developments, they are always learning new things
  3. You are paid to think - the essence of the practice of law is applying the law to a unique set of facts - this requires the use of logic, reason, and analytical skills. It is mentally laborious, but it keeps your mind sharp
  4. You are paid to help people - if you're a prosecutor, you are helping society by putting criminals in jail, if you're a criminal defense attorney, you can help set innocent people free, and even if you're representing a guilty person, you can help ensure that they get a fair trial, even if they're eventually convicted. If you do civil litigation, you can help people get compensated for their injuries. If you do business law, you can assist people in setting up and running their businesses - the list goes on
  5. There is a certain prestige to the profession - sure, lawyers are the subject of a lot of jokes, but overall, the are quite well-regarded, even if it's just because most people recognize the amount of education and hard work it takes to become a lawyer.

  1. Law school is expensive - unless you or your parents are very wealthy, or you get into law school with a really good scholarship, you might have to take out around $100,000 or more in loans to cover tuition and living expenses for those 3 years of school. You'll be paying those loans off for 10 years, at least.
  2. The legal job market is not doing well right now. The economy is in the tank. This is affecting every sector of the economy, but the legal market has been particularly hard-hit. When you graduate with massive amounts of debt to pay off, there is a lot of pressure to find a high-paying job at a big law firm. There are very few of those jobs going around right now. Furthermore, law schools are turning out a huge number of graduates every year. There are simply not enough jobs for all of them.
  3. Long hours - if you do manage to get a job at a big firm right after graduation, you will be working 60-80 hours a week for your first few years. Huge firms are able to do this, because they pay very well, and they know that recent graduates are desperate to pay down their loans. As a result, they can treat young associates like dirt, and none of them will complain, because they know there's somebody waiting to take their place at the drop of hat.
  4. High stress - besides the long hours, the stakes are very high. If you screw up your client's case, you can quite literally ruin their life. If you screw up badly enough, your client can sue you for malpractice. Screw up REALLY bad, and you can get disbarred. That's a lot of pressure. As a result, lawyers suffer from higher rates of alcoholism and stress-related illnesses than the general population.
  5. Law school is not for everyone - of course, neither is the legal profession - but if you go to law school straight out of college, it will be 3 years of the most rigorous study you have ever done. If you start seriously considering law school, you will hear horror stories about the first year. The first year can get pretty rough for some people, but it's not as bad as some make it out to be. You'll just have to work much harder than you did in college.
There are many more pros and cons that I could list, but the pros basically boil down to money (potentially), prestige, education, and (again, potentially) rewarding work. The cons boil down to the very large initial financial investment required, stress, and long hours.

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