The Keystone Connection
Who wants to be a Lawyer?Monday, November 05, 2007 By Solea Kelly
When you hear the word ‘lawyer’, what image comes to mind? Some people may think of an honest, hard-working man, spending late hours in his dingy office with a flickering ceiling light bulb, doing all he can to prove that his client really is innocent. Numerous television shows, like Perry Mason and Matlock of the past have encouraged this favorable image of lawyers. Other people, however, may have an image of an enormous Beverly Hills mansion, and a man with a healthy tan lying on his fancy yacht, the newest cell phone model glued to his ear. They think of a man who deals with mass torts, never sees most of his clients, pastes his face all over national television to advertise his legal services, charges immense fees, and doesn’t care an ounce about his clients. Novelists such as John Grisham portray this image frequently and avidly. Both scenarios are two very common stereotype images that come to mind when people think of lawyers. But what is the truth? When it comes down to facts and statistics, what does the average, mortal lawyer look like? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2006 the average yearly income for a lawyer was $113,660. That is about $9,471.60 a month, or, $2,185.76 a week. The U.S. Department of Labor also reports that most lawyers work long, irregular hours, and over half of those lawyers work at least 50 hours a week, if not more. To find some opinions beyond statistics, The Keystone Connection interviewed a lawyer by name of Jeffery Lewis. Mr. Lewis, a graduate of the Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, has been a lawyer in Illinois for nine years, where he owns his own firm with four other partners. According to Mr. Lewis, "the greedy lawyer stereotype comes from a small percentage of lawyers who have received too much publicity regarding certain cases involving large sums of money. The media focuses on the scandals and exploitations of lawyers, creating and depicting a warped picture." He also points out that historically many lawyers have contributed to the good of society without requesting large payments for their work. For example, many of America’s founding fathers were lawyers. Lis Small, who is currently a student at Cedarville University in Ohio, said this: “Being a lawyer is one of those jobs that seems like it doesn't take a lot of effort and that the lawyers are being paid for doing nothing. However, if you consider all the work they went through in college and law school, I think it balances out. The profession requires effort, stamina, and determination. Thus, it is my opinion that they don't get paid too much. To me, it's a difficult job that is justly rewarded by a large salary.” Perhaps the average lawyer is just a regular person with a regular job that settles somewhere between the two stereotypes. Read the entrie interview with Jeffery Lewis .