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Day in the life of a lawyer

by Charles Nwabueze
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Day in the life of a lawyer 

You might have been drawn to a career in law because of its prestige and reputation of being a relatively well-paid and lucrative sector. Or perhaps you have watched hyped TV series and were swayed by lawyers who were immaculately dressed, drinking martinis on a yacht after a tough day at the court or driving a sale through. Sorry to burst the bubble but this might not be the whole reality. Yes, a career as a lawyer is quite prestigious and lucrative; you will have the money to afford most of the things you want. But there’s more to law than just drinking martinis. A law career is demanding. The typical day in the life of a lawyer is highly taxing. 

The activities that will besiege a lawyer will vary dependent on a host of factors. Is the lawyer a solicitor or a barrister? If the lawyer is a barrister then you can expect that he/she will spend more time in courtrooms. What is the lawyer’s area of specialism? Corporate lawyers are known to have intense days which can spill over into the middle of the night. Is the lawyer established in the field, or is he/her a newly qualified solicitor or is he/her a trainee or a pupil? 

Despite all the above questions raised, what can be said with authority is that a lawyer’s day usually starts early. On average, a lawyer will either be in the office between 8:30 am to 9:15 am – if he is a solicitor. For barristers in areas of law that are trial-prone if they consider that it’s not wise to be in chambers before heading out the court, they will just do their preparation from home – meaning their work starts from home. Within the barristers’ profession, it’s good practice for a barrister to be at the court premises at least 30 minutes or 1 hour before the judges’ working hours commence (which is 10:30 am).

Main Responsibilities of a Lawyer 

The main responsibilities of a lawyer will vary depending on whether he/she is a solicitor, what kind of firm he/she is in, the level of experience and the kind of case he/she is working on. Despite this, a lawyer’s responsibilities will typically involve:

  • Having appointments with clients to determine if the firm has the expertise to handle their matter
  • Taking instructions from a client or a solicitor if in the case of a barrister
  • Communicating to their clients about the law and legal issues involved in their matter
  • Communicating to colleagues, judges, and others involved in the case
  • Deciding the best course of action to the instructions taken
  • Preparing and filing legal documents, such as lawsuits, appeals, motions, wills, contracts, and so on
  • Representing clients in settings about their matters, such as courts, tribunals and negotiations
  • Carrying out research and in-depth analysis of various resources including laws and documents about the client’s matter. and to ensure that he or she is up-to-date with the law
  • Supervising the implementation of solutions and agreements
  • Collaborate with other professionals to achieve the objectives of the client
  • Proofreading all documentation before signing and implementing

Typical Hours of a Lawyer 

If you have made it this far into the article, it’s time to let you know that the number of hours a lawyer may typically clock in is gruesome. As with other things determining the typical hours of a lawyer will vary depending on whether the lawyer is a solicitor or a barrister, and whether the solicitor (lawyer) works in a city firm or a regional firm. What practice is the lawyer specializing in? Is the barrister self-employed or working for the government. 

Let’s take the scenario where the lawyer is a solicitor. His or her typical hours will further be determined by what area of law he practises, whether it’s in the City or a regional firm. The typical amount of hours a lawyer will work in this scenario will be long, donkey, odious, hideous and tedious. You don’t believe me? Let’s have a look at the following stats from a survey carried out by Legal Cheek

  • Lawyers at Kirkland were known to start and finish their day on average by 9:14 am and finish by 11:28 pm. That’s almost a 15-hour shift. You are still not convinced? Lawyers at Ropes & Gray had 9:20 am and 10:51 pm start and finish times. That’s almost 14 hours at work.
  • At Linklaters, a lawyer will expect to be working for 12 hours. Their Magic Circle counterpart, Clifford Chance has a similar stat also with lawyers typically spending close to 12 hours in a work day.

If you like the 9 to 5 job your start off as a lawyer will be tough because the life of a lawyer is not one of 9-5. If you find that you do not have what it takes but yet you still want to be a lawyer, you could either choose to practise as a lawyer in regional firms or choose to practise as a barrister. While both are by no means walkovers they are still relatively calmer than the beast of the reality of working as a solicitor in the City. On average a barrister may start his day by 8:30 am and finish around 7 pm. You will get something similar at a regional firm; a source at a regional firm once said that a late night was anything ‘after 5.50 pm’.


Charles is a writer, practising lawyer and personal trainer who loves learning and developing himself. He graduated from Middlesex University, London with eight first-class grades in the second and third years of his law degree, and received a postgraduate offer from Cambridge University. He loves strength training, boxing and encouraging people to succeed in their pursuits (legal ones)
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