5 Things Top Attorney Suzanne DeWitt Wishes She Had Known Before Becoming A Lawyer

Editor’s Note: Haute Lawyer Suzanne DeWitt has over 21 years of experience in international tax and private wealth planning and is an expert in the areas of global tax minimization and cross-border wealth planning and implementation. She is the founder and managing partner of DEWITT PLLC and has written for numerous publications and spoken extensively on international tax subjects.

Today, she is sharing the top 5 things she wishes she had known before becoming a lawyer.

  1. You’re going to be really bored if you don’t pick a field of practice that fits your personality.

I do international tax planning, which I enjoy because it’s challenging and it’s exhilarating when you score great results for the client. That’s not going to be the right move for everyone, though. If your passion is public interest environmental law, you might be bored to tears if you practice bankruptcy law instead… Make sure you vet out different kinds of law – take advantage of those summer internships – before deciding on a field.

  1. Understand at the outset that certain types of law will be more flexible than others.

That’s just the way it is….  If you actually love to travel or simply don’t want to be tied down to one city, choose an area of law that is regulated by a federal agency, so you can work with clients from any state. This gives you lots of flexibility if you don’t want to be stuck in the state in which you are licensed.

  1. You probably won’t spend much time in court.

Unlike the TV shows we’ve seen over the years – most lawyers are not in court delivering soaring speeches in front of juries every week.  You may rarely, or never, see a courtroom and will spend a lot of time alone, in an office, researching cases, and processing paperwork.

  1. After law school, you should definitely continue to take notes.

Anyone’s memory is not infallible.  As a lawyer, I take notes on everything, whether it’s a five-minute phone conference or a day-long meeting.  I find it odd when I am the only note-taker in the room because inevitably, I am going to have to multitask between clients and circle back to them even months later.  I’ll even make voice notes on my phone, as I think of things while driving, at the very least. It’s hard to remember every single important detail when you are juggling multiple matters, and the devil is always in the details.  Issues can resurface months or even years after the last time they seemed relevant.

  1. The “secret sauce” is not in memorizing a particular area of law…

Every lawyer in their career has that “a-ha!” moment where they see the magic start to happen – it’s that moment when we hear ourselves confidently interpreting complex themes and simplifying them into a clear, understandable deliverable applicable to a client’s particular case.  That’s the endurance test every lawyer has to master, no matter the area of law.