This week we welcome back guest writer Briana Borgolini to talk about how to decide what kind of law you want to eventually practice.
Of the many challenges law school presents, identifying which area of the law you’re interested in can be one of the largest. While some students may come to law school knowing what type of law they want to practice, many students won’t have a great idea of their exact interests. Further, interests may change for many students once they are exposed to different courses and areas of the law. While deciding which area is best for you may seem like a daunting task, there are some things you can consider doing to help you make the best decision possible.
Talk to Practicing Attorneys
Perhaps the most obvious step you can take when considering what type of law may be right for you is to speak with practicing attorneys. These attorneys will have firsthand experience working in various practice areas, and can likely provide you with information you can’t necessarily find in other ways. This is a great reason to utilize informational interviews. If you’re not sure of anyone you can reach out to, your school’s career office, alumni network and professors are a great place to start.
Pay Attention to which Classes you Enjoy
Something else you should consider when thinking about which area of the law is right for you is which classes you enjoyed most, and why. As a busy student, it can difficult to consider how much you actually like your classes when they all seem overwhelming. However, trying to pay attention to which ones feel the least burdensome may give you a clue as to which practice area will be a good fit for you. In particular, consider how much you enjoy your legal writing courses. Often writing assignments will firmly be litigation or transactional, and identifying which of these areas you prefer can be an important first step.
Talk to Professors
Your professors can be a crucial resource in learning more about different practice areas. In many cases, professors have a good amount of work experience in their respective fields. Because of this, they are likely to offer a wealth of information about their area. Additionally, professors often have contacts in a wide variety of fields that they can put you in touch with. Most professors are teaching because they like working with students, and will be more than happy to discuss their career paths with you.
Consider what you like to do on a Daily Basis
Another important step is to consider what you actually like to do on a day-to-day basis. While most lawyers will do a large amount reading and writing no matter their area, the fine details of that work can vary greatly between practice areas. If you really want to be in court frequently, try to identify areas of the law that give you that experience, as it is not always common. In contrast, if you know you would be happier working primarily in your office, seek out positions where your day-to-day will be based there. As obvious as it sounds, this is actually an easy thing for many students to overlook. Consider doing externships in different areas to identify what type of work setting feels best for you.
Consider how you Feel about Conflict
Honestly assessing how you feel about conflict can help you decide what type of law is the best fit for you. Even if you aren’t in court frequently, litigation is by nature adversarial and will appeal to some personalities more than others. If conflict is something that does not bother you, then you’ll likely have no problem working in litigation. However, if you sense that a constant adversarial relationship with opposing counsel, no matter how civil, is something that may not be a great fit for you, then maybe transactional work would be a better fit.
Seek out Experiential Learning
One of the best ways to figure out what you like and don’t like is to do internships or externships during school. Most schools offer a wide variety of experiential learning opportunities ranging from judicial placements to public interest positions to in-house positions. Don’t be afraid to try new things, as this is a great way to narrow down your interests.
Be Open to Change
Finally, it is crucial to be open to changes as you move through law school and your career. It can be incredibly difficult to identify exactly what practice area is best for you during law school because, in many instances, it takes a period of time to really assess whether or not you like something. It is highly possible that even once you begin practice, you will start to realize that another area might be a better fit for you. You’re never stuck in one area, and being open to change can help you find the right fit.
While it can be overwhelming to decide what type of law you want to pursue, there are many resources available to help you make the best decision.