What kind of law students become the best attorneys?
Daniel Becker, Patent Attorney and Early-stage Engineering (2013-present)
This may be an eye-rollingly lawyerly answer, but: “It depends upon what you mean by ‘best.’” Also: “It depends upon what you mean by “attorneys.”
Can you tell me more?
I know that there are people who consider me to be an excellent patent attorney. Those people are aware that I possess the skillset for dealing with inventors, offering alternative strategies, and am able to provide opinions as to what I believe is most logical, and I am able to rapidly digest new technologies, and I am not afraid to go outside of my comfort zone, in either of the law or in fields of technology, to decide whether my judgement is adequately informed, or whether I can obtain those skills.
HOWEVER, I am not a criminal defense attorney, a bankruptcy attorney, or someone who uses law-skills to do things that are not strictly BEING attorney, but which people would only trust an attorney to do well. Consider people who write drafts for laws, or opinions on states of the law, or who teach the law, or who are able to shape policy or analyze the effects of laws upon populations or suspect classes, or even the mere historic roles of law, or what they mean for the projections of law-effects upon industry?
These occupations and fields of law are possibly entirely unrelated to the skills that I have developed, and which are valuable to doing my particular job.
Did you perhaps mean… which sorts of law students are likely to be able to very naturally become attorneys, and move between fields, or live up to common cumulative circumstances for new lawyers?
To be a little bit uncouth, I’ll say this: the LSAT strikes me as a shockingly good indicator of whether someone is set up well, from the very beginning, to be a good lawyer, in general. You have to be able to just be logical, and to pick an answer, and be comfortable with it.
However, being a “good lawyer,” may mean, “is this a person who will NOT be a bad lawyer?” A “bad” lawyer may mean someone is going to get into trouble, or disappoint clients, or perpetuate the things that people expect of “bad” lawyers?
“Bad” lawyers may be ones who mishandle funds, or who do not respond or communicate well with clients, or ones which provide work or make decisions which are not what their clients or other attorneys expect. None of these things are strictly related to whether or not someone is being “bad” at doing the law, though. And these are not things which are taught in law school.
Perhaps you mean though… what sorts of law students are unlikely to be people who will struggle with BEING an attorney.
The law can be disappointing, and it can feel empty and alone and meaningless AT TIMES, and particularly if someone is not doing work which they feel is important or well suited to their interests or abilities. You have to be willing to have an inconsistent amount of work, clients and peers and managing attorneys who are out-of-touch with your actual burdens, problems which seem unlikely to pop-up but which occasionally become the center of your existence, and frequently… betrayal.
Academically gifted law students, even ones with the right backgrounds and instincts, have a leg up, but there is no certainty that they will avoid circumstances that make the law difficult or upsetting or impracticable.
Personally… I think the ability to write a good brief is MASSIVELY overrated, and that is possibly a very popular metric for people who may have powerful opinions on this topic.
back to work. 😉
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