5 Tips on How to Choose a Type of Law to Practice
- Student Tips
You may have been 100% certain you wanted to study law, but now that you've started to think about specialties, you're completely lost. And that's okay. You don't need to choose the type of law you practice when you start your studies, and even if you haven't settled on an area of expertise by graduation, few recruiters expect law students to have specialized. In fact, many early-career legal graduates change their focus at least once, especially after gaining some experience. But it doesn't hurt to start considering your options, especially while you have the chance to work on projects or benefit from the knowledge of your legal professors. Here are five tips to help you find the field of law that's right for you.
1. Don't pick right now
This is a big decision and it's not one that you can make in an instant. As we mentioned earlier, there's no need to specialize right away, and it's a good idea to take some time and consider your options. Give yourself a goal of six months to learn about some of the fields that interest you – read widely, meet with people who practice various types of law, and see if you can work or volunteer in areas that might suit. And even if you pick a field, remember that you can always change your mind later. One of the skills you hone in law school is flexibility, and you'll find yourself capable in many areas.
2. Talk to the pros
Whether you're exploring your options as a student or a graduate, talk to practicing attorneys. Research some of the leading professionals in the fields that you are considering and contact them to find out more about the professional aspects. Speak with your professors, and if you're still a student, try to get involved in projects spearheaded by those in your areas of interest. The more hands-on experience or first-hand insight you can gain before you choose, the better.
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3. Keep an eye on the economy
Most law students think that a job post-graduation is a sure-fire thing, but even the legal world can be affected by the ups and downs of the economy, and some areas more than others. Do some research on your areas of interest and see how the job market for certain fields vary. Even if the job market is relatively stable, you should also be aware that responsibilities and practices of certain types of law are often dictated by the financial world. Real estate and corporate law are often more volatile whereas family law is more stable, so think about whether you'd like your work to be predictable or changeable.
4. Think about your personality/goals
In fact, it's important to sit down and think about how you like to work and what sort of work environment suits you. If you're still studying, look at how you thrive or struggle – do you like working with others or prefer solo projects? Consider your strengths both as a law student and in your earlier studies. Were you passionate about ecology and science projects, or did you prefer history and literature? Are you a dab-hat at mathematics or particularly skilled with languages? Your personality and interests can help guide you to a legal specialty. And don't forget to account for your goals and aspirations. Do you seek prestige or prefer working in the background? Do you want to travel or prefer a stable home-life? Think about what success means for you and weigh that alongside your choices.
5. There is no 'right' answer
And there's no wrong answer either. You might have a passion for conservation and choose environmental law, only to find that you're better-suited volunteering to plant trees than you are fighting for endangered snails, or you could choose a path towards high-powered international law only to realize that you'd like to be home more often. And that's okay. Good lawyers know that everything is negotiable, and anything can be open to interpretation, including your career choices. You will, most likely, find a field that suits you, but you should take the time you need to explore and learn – both about the legal profession and yourself.