The Pros and Cons of Having a Technical Background as a Lawyer

Are You a Tech Person Who Wants to be a Lawyer?

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It’s a common myth that most lawyers come from a liberal arts background—in truth, lawyers come from all different backgrounds and college majors. In fact, there have always been a number of lawyers who come from science and tech backgrounds—because of the technical nature of patents, they often become patent lawyers. There are both upsides and downsides of having a technical background as a lawyer—here are some of those pros and cons:

Pro: You already have analytical skills

Analytical skills are essential for both law students and lawyers. In order to practice law, you have to be able to research for days on end—often longer—about the same thing until you find information that is relevant to the case you’re working on. Having a background in a discipline that teaches analytical skills, such as research, will help you in all stages of becoming a lawyer starting with taking the LSAT.

Con: Your writing skills may not be as strong

Writing skills are also essential for all stages of becoming a lawyer, and unfortunately, they are not always taught in technical degree programs. The students who earn their degrees in the humanities and social sciences definitely have a leg up on the lawyers with technical backgrounds when it comes to writing skills.

Pro: New technology will likely be easier for you to learn

One thing keeps coming up in legal news—technology is constantly evolving to make the lives of lawyers easier.

Whether this is an easier way to deal with ediscovery or new apps for organizing your schedule, lawyers that already have a technical background will likely be able to pick up on the new tech faster than those who don’t have a technological background.

Con: The old-fashioned way may seem boring and not challenging

Something that comes up a lot for those who have backgrounds in technology—the day to day work that lawyers deal with may seem boring and not challenging.

This may be especially true of all of the paperwork that is involved with being a lawyer. This may not be true across the board, but it is something to consider when you’re deciding whether to switch from tech to law.

Pro: Your brain is wired to constantly be thinking of new ways to innovate

Because much of being a lawyer involves paperwork and research, there is always room to innovate. Technically-minded people—especially those who know programming languages—have the potential to continue to revolutionize the legal field. Between creating new databases to hold case data to creating new ways to organize and find information, those with backgrounds in technology have the potential to change the legal game.

Con: Thinking outside the box may cause you to lose sight of the goal

A downside of having innovation on the brain is that it may cause you to lose sight of the bigger goal at hand—winning a case, for instance. If you get so caught up in finding a new way to organize your information but forget to actually comb through it, you’re not really helping anyone. This isn’t a problem for everyone, but for those who watch the Big Bang Theory, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

There are definitely pros and cons to moving from a technology field to law, and the pros may outweigh the cons for many people.

In fact, many law schools are actively recruiting students with backgrounds in STEM fields in order to diversify the legal field. If you’re thinking of changing careers, make sure you take a look at your own tendencies before making the leap—you always want to be sure that changing careers is the right move!

Good luck!