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21st Century Careers: Prosecutor

By Hyma Gollakota ('22)

Photo courtesy of Wix

A lawyer is someone who represents clients in a court of law. It is a very prestigious profession and requires rigorous schooling.

Being a lawyer can involve a variety of assignments. The majority of the job is writing, reading and researching but it depends on the preferred type of attorney. For example, a trial lawyer will spend most of the time researching and preparing the testifiers.

Furthermore, if the job is a desk position, the attorney will spend majority of their day doing more paperwork and filing cases. The work hours are typically the usual 9 to 5, however, this can vary depending on the schedule. If an attorney has a busy week, they will have to extend their work day.

Assistant Prosecutor and Chief of Appellate at the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, Ms. Stephanie Elson, said that being a successful lawyer calls for a specific work ethic and skills.

According to Elson, it helps in the job of an attorney, not to procrastinate. “You might have a lot of paperwork and things like that to complete which can take up a lot of your day, so it’s really important to keep on task,” stated Ms. Elson.

Lawyers have a lot of work to complete and not much time to do it, so a quality lawyer should be able to keep up with their workload.

Additionally, she said that a lawyer should be able to “speak well and think fast under pressure”. A prosecutor will be put under stress and strain in the job when fighting for a client in the court. In those times, the attorney will have to come up with defense or with points that can be used against the other side, quickly. A perfect candidate for this profession would be someone who is opinionated, well spoken, and confident.

The typical schooling entails four years of undergrad with a bachelor's degree as well as three years of Law School. A college that offers an undergrad program is New York University. The tuition for four years is $207,302. The tuition for a law school, Columbia University to be exact, would be $202,598 for three years.

Although paying for this schooling can be difficult for many, the costs can be paid for using student loans and scholarships. Anyone who has a law degree can be considered a lawyer, but in order to actually practice and be called an attorney, they will need to take the bar exam.

Prospective lawyers will want to take English, government, history, public speaking, and economics in school. Ms. Elson also participated in a judicial courtship before starting work at her current job, where she has been for the past 18 years. These educational experiences prepare a future lawyer for the tasks of the job.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, out of all the lawyers in America, less than 10% earned $57,430 or less. The median salary was about $119,250. This means that 50% of lawyers have a higher salary than this, and 50% have lower.

An article from NRI Staffing says the starting salary for lawyers can differ between $87,000 and 115,000. Again from BLS, the projected number of jobs for lawyers is 793,500 and the job outlook from 2016-2026 is 8%. An article from US News states that the unemployment rate for lawyers is 0.7%.

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