Day in the life of
Lawyer – Angie Hooper, Esq., CPC
I’m Angie Hooper, Esq., CPC and after 23 years as a lawyer licensed in Texas and Oklahoma and representing international energy and heavy manufacturing companies on complex commercial transactions and M&A deals, I help lawyers make their careers “automation-proof” and fall in love with practicing law.
What’s it really like being a lawyer?
One of the most critical decisions you make for your career is where you go to law school—but not for the reason you think. If your true heartfelt desire is to work for a BigLaw or AmLaw100 firm, those firms are hiring from top ten schools and federal court clerkships. For the rest of us, the primary concerns in choosing a law school should be 1) price, and 2) graduate employment rates for your location. Unfortunately, a lot of lawyers have law school debt that’s out of proportion to their earning power. Student loans are a boat anchor you’re going to carry around your neck for your entire career and drive will box you in for your choice of jobs and practice areas. Don’t assume you need to go to “the best” (read: the most expensive) law school you can get in to. Look at where you want to live, where you want to practice, and what kind of work interests you. Call some lawyers in your town and who do the kind of work that looks interesting, and also some that do criminal and family law. Look up their bio on their firm website or LinkedIn and see where they went to school. Ask them for their hourly rate and what they charge for a retainer—that’s a better gauge of future earning power than first-year salary averages you get from a law school admissions office. Because at the end of the day, your clients don’t care how much you owe on your student loans.
What is your work life like—as an in-house lawyer?
One thing that surprised me about being a deal lawyer in-house at a Fortune 500 company was how often the commercial team would show up with a question that they swore was mission critical, a bet-the-company emergency. So then I’d drop everything to get them an answer or markup a document, and then hear crickets for the next six weeks. With contract management software, processes, an automation changing the way companies get their legal support, lawyers are getting more isolated in their swim lane. To be happy practicing law, and really to survive without stress and burnout, you have to have the leadership and internal skills to manage your clients. Otherwise, you’ll live at the mercy of your client’s whims and fears.
What are the pros and cons?
Being a lawyer can be the most amazing professional adventure you’ve ever had, but you have to know what you want from it and how to get there. The entire legal services industry faces massive change in the delivery of legal services. We’re talking about changes from software than can build and review a contract from pre-set clauses, to online DIY legal forms, to outsourcing of contract management and legal research to non-lawyer service centers all around the world. Alternative Legal Services Providers encroach on areas that we used to think of as the sole purview of licensed attorneys. Meanwhile, law firms still train their lawyers like they’re going to practice in the 1990s! Setting yourself up to have the right legal and leadership skills so you can embrace the way legal services will be delivered into the 2020s and beyond will separate the happy, successful lawyers from the broke, burned out lawyers.
represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, or manage or advise clients on legal transactions. May specialize in a single area or may practice broadly in many areas of law.