Movies and television shows often depict attorneys at the peak of their powers, addressing a courtroom with a rousing speech, riveting jurors and judges alike with astounding rhetoric and brilliant charisma. These scenes are depicted so frequently, you might even come to believe this is all attorneys actually do! This is not that case. In fact, for many attorneys, most of their work takes place behind the scene.
The daily tasks of an attorney, the frequency in which they appear in court, and the style of their work depends largely on what the actually do. Litigators, or trial attorneys predictably appear in court much more often than their non-litigating counterparts. Area of practice matters as well. Criminal advocates often spend much more time in court than civil attorneys. Advisors may never spend a single moment in court!
So What Do they Do??
Surprisingly, the routine tasks of being an attorney are quite similar to the routine tasks of being a student. There is a lot of research and paperwork involved. The type of research depends largely on the type of case they are preparing for. Often attorneys need to spend days looking over old court cases, researching precedents and learning past rulings. They use this information to build the case they are currently working on. It is much like writing a research paper.
Speaking of paper, attorneys handle a large amount of paper. Some attorneys have even mentioned that paperwork takes up a majority of their time. Learning the ins and outs of the labyrinthine, bureaucratic rules regulating legal paperwork is a massive job in and of itself. Much of this behind the scenes work can lead to a case being resolved long before it reaches court. There might not be much glory in reading and research, but that’s the stuff that really gets the job done!