If you’re like many people and grew up watching legal-based movies or dramas on TV, these may have been a big reason why you considered getting a law degree. However, while shows and films like Boston Legal, Suits, The Good Wife, Law and Order, Erin Brockovich and Legally Blonde seem to make this career path more popular, it doesn’t mean they accurately represent what it’s like to be in the legal field.

Obviously, what we see on the screen is amped up and created specifically to enthrall, amuse, scare or excite viewers. None of the “boring bits” make for great screen time, after all! As such, if you’re thinking about pursuing a career as a lawyer, or if you’re interested in a related field and are considering higher education such as a Master of Science in Jurisprudence, it’s important to understand what will really be ahead of you.

You don’t want to be one of the people who choose a legal career because it seems like fun from the outside, but then you find you actually don’t know anything about it. To help you on your way, read on for three of the top myths about lawyers that are perpetuated year after year.



Being a Lawyer is Glamorous and Exciting

For starters, one of the most prevalent myths is that being a lawyer is always glamorous and exciting. However, even though the TV shows focus on people in these jobs being in court all the time, weaving memorable stories and providing stirring orations to win, this just isn’t reality. Instead, most lawyers actually spend a big part of their week quietly researching and planning, not putting on a show in court.

As well, while the screen makes legal work seem exciting because it appears everything happens at once and there is always lots of drama involved, in real life, many cases drag on for months or even years before they get to court, let alone are finalized. It’s also frowned upon to raise your voice or use overly emotive and leading speak in court (the type you often see on TV), so in fact lawyers must focus on the “plain” facts, and talking in a clear, black-and-white way.

Keep in mind, too, that courtroom dramas seen on the screen usually revolve around mass civil suits or on large criminal trials. However, for most lawyers, their time is spent working on short civil court cases or on mediating between two or more parties, and providing legal consultation.


Lawyers are Guaranteed Financial Success

Next, when you watch legal TV series and films, it’s easy to get the idea that all lawyers have a wardrobe filled with designer outfits, live in a luxurious house or apartment, and drive a high-end vehicle. Again, this is not the case for everyone.

While attorneys at mega-firms with more than 100 lawyers can be highly compensated, these people only account for a tiny percentage of all those in the legal industry. The vast majority of lawyers actually work for small firms, where they receive a comparatively smaller wage, or are employees of the government or public interest groups who certainly don’t pay millions, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, per year. As well, when you take into account the amount of hours that many attorneys put in each week, their per-hour rate is incredibly low.


Lawyers Know Everything and Work Alone

Lastly, another common misconception about lawyers obtained from watching movies and television shows is that they know everything and do most of their work alone. Now, while attorneys do often have an impressive intellect, they’re definitely not experts in all areas.

Rather than litigating across a variety of case types, most lawyers specialize in one or at most two areas, such as commercial litigation, employment law, family law, patents, environmental law etc. As well, the majority of attorneys choose between being litigators (representing clients in court cases or in arbitration and the like), or transactional lawyers (helping customers with matters such as mergers or regulatory filings).

Similarly, while it looks onscreen like attorneys play the “hero” card, and pull rabbits out of the hat to score unexpected or last-minute victories, in reality most cases are worked on by a team of people. Each person in this team puts in dozens of hours on things like background research, investigation, fact checking, and other types of preparation for legal transactions or trials. Lawyers need to be able to work well with others, therefore, and contribute effectively in a team environment.