For many lawyers, a love of reading is part and parcel with the profession. Within an industry that prides itself on clear thinking and good writing, it’s little wonder that the legal field has produced many great books for readers of all ages. Here are just three books that lawyers may want to pick up the next time they’re at a bookstore, and what those books tell us about an ever-changing field.
- ‘Gideon’s Trumpet’ by Anthony Lewis
It may seem strange to us now, but the US constitution didn’t always guarantee an accused person the right to representation by an attorney. Or did it? ‘Gideon’s Trumpet’ by Anthony Lewis is a must-read for any lawyer who is interested in how ideals within the constitution are put into practical effect by the court system. Diving into the story of how the Supreme Court guaranteed the right to counsel for all US citizens, the reader of ‘Gideon’s Trumpet’ will encounter major legal figures from US history such as Abe Fortas and Earl Warren. Audiences will learn about how the court system is a continuously evolving institution that sometimes struggles with the challenges of putting notions of equal opportunity into effect.
- ‘Go East, Young Man’ by William O. Douglas
Like Abraham Lincoln, William O. Douglas embodied the “rags to riches” tale central to the American concept of self. Raised in poverty in the Depression-era Yakima, Washington, Douglas put himself through Columbia Law School after “riding the rails” from Washington to the East Coast, and after a stint teaching at Yale was appointed to the Supreme Court. Not bad for a country boy who once saved on rooming costs by sleeping in a tent on his college lawn!
- ‘The Paper Chase’ by John Jay Osborn Jr.
Later turned into a successful film and television series by the same name, ‘The Paper Chase’ was John Jay Osborn’s semi-autobiographical novel about his time as a first-year Harvard Law student. Memorable characters abound, including the curmudgeonly but good-natured law professor Charles W. Kingsfield, who rules his first-year charges with an iron fist as he molds them into top-flight legal minds. Famed for capturing the rigors of law school’s first-year syllabus, this novel should be a must-read for anyone who loves books about the law and the law school experience.
For lawyers who love to read, the options are many for great books that explain the abundance of frustrations and rewards of that comes along with legal education and career. The study of the law can sometimes be dry and repetitive, but that doesn’t mean that books on the subject have to be boring. As these three classic books prove, the law can make for a truly fascinating topic.
Both a paralegal and a lawyer work in a similar field, but their education, career path, and responsibilities differ. There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing between a career as a paralegal and a lawyer.
Becoming a paralegal requires a minimum of only three months’ training. Some law firms require that you have a paralegal certification, which may take two years to complete. Paralegal certification programs don’t require an entrance exam, nor is there an exam required before you can enter the field. Once certified, a paralegal isn’t required to continue their education. The job market for paralegals is one of the fastest growing in the US!
However, a paralegal is limited in their career. Unlike lawyers, they can’t practice law themselves, but must be supervised. The scope of a paralegal’s work is not as varied as that of a lawyer. Many of their assignments are administrative in nature. Their work is very routine. Because of this, paralegals must have excellent attention to detail and organizational skills.
The intensity of a career as a lawyer is reflected in the education required. In order to even be considered for law school, an aspiring lawyer must have a bachelor’s degree, and have taken the LSAT, a law school entrance exam. Even after completing law school, one can’t practice law until they pass the state bar exam. Once they begin practicing law, lawyers must meet continuing education requirements in order to maintain their license to practice.
A lawyer’s work is varied and challenging. The career path offers many opportunities for advancement and taking on more responsibility. While this is exciting, it can also be stressful. Although their position is salaried, meaning there aren’t any bonuses for working overtime during the evenings or weekends, lawyers have unlimited salary potential. Lawyers often receive other perks such as their own private office, and administrative support designed to help them. Unlike paralegals, lawyers don’t have to be supervised, but have the option to work autonomously.
When determining which career path is best for you, it’s important to consider a variety of factors. How many years of school are you willing to undertake? Is the idea of seven years of school and multiple intensive exams discouraging? Would you rather complete work that is exciting but stressful or administrative and routine? Are you an excellent and analytical communicator, or do you pride yourself on your attention to detail and organizational abilities? Remember that while both paralegals and lawyers work in the same field, their day to day work looks very different.
About Henry Vinson
Henry Vinson is a 10,000 hour commercial pilot with Single-Engine and Multi-Engine Airplane; Rotorcraft-Helicopter; Instrument-Airplane; Flight Instructor Airplane & Flight Instructor Helicopter ratings. Henry Vinson holds a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Mortuary Science from Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. He is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, Airplane Owner and Pilot Association, American Marketing Association, American Communications Association, and Experimental Aircraft Association.
Henry Vinson was born in 1960 in South Williamson, Kentucky. He graduated from Williamson High School in 1979, and, after attending South West Virginia Community College, he enrolled in the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. In 1982, he was appointed the Coroner for Mingo County, West Virginia.
Four years later, he became a funeral director for W. W. Chambers Funeral Homein Washington, DC. After his stint at W. W. Chambers Funeral Home, he owned and operated the largest gay escort service ever uncovered in Washington, DC at the age of 26.
In 2007, Mr. Vinson received a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University, and today he is a successful entrepreneur who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Following a successful career as a marketing and advertising consultant, Henry Vinson opted to return to school in 2014 to pursue a law degree. Vinson is currently enrolled in the Juris Doctor Program at William Howard Taft University, America’s oldest nationally accredited distance learning law school.