Choosing a type of law

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gmreplay
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Choosing a type of law

Postby gmreplay » Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:21 am

When should I start concerning myself with the type of law I want to practice? Moreover, how do I know how I want to practice (i.e. litigation vs transactional)? I'm primarily interested in issues of civil liberties and politics, and I know I'd hate to deal with criminal law.

Michigan is my top school, and from what I've seen it doesn't look like the T14 schools specialize as much as lower grade schools, so is specialization something I even need to be concerning myself with right now?

irishman86
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Re: Choosing a type of law

Postby irishman86 » Tue Nov 23, 2010 9:39 am

No. I'm a 2L working for a firm this summer and I have no idea what practice area I want to go into. You get the chance to rotate through practice groups and you may get exposure to litigation if you work as a judicial intern during 1L summer.

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AreJay711
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Re: Choosing a type of law

Postby AreJay711 » Tue Nov 23, 2010 9:45 am

gmreplay wrote:When should I start concerning myself with the type of law I want to practice? Moreover, how do I know how I want to practice (i.e. litigation vs transactional)? I'm primarily interested in issues of civil liberties and politics, and I know I'd hate to deal with criminal law.

Michigan is my top school, and from what I've seen it doesn't look like the T14 schools specialize as much as lower grade schools, so is specialization something I even need to be concerning myself with right now?


Michigan doesn't have as many (any?) specialty programs but when I was talking to someone in the admissions office when I visited she told me that there is really no point in a program as long as the school has the classes in the area you want to take. I think that is pretty good advice -- just because say Vandy has a dedicated program in Law and Business doesn't mean that you couldn't take the exact same classes at Michigan if you wanted.

irishman86
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Re: Choosing a type of law

Postby irishman86 » Tue Nov 23, 2010 9:48 am

AreJay711 wrote:
gmreplay wrote:When should I start concerning myself with the type of law I want to practice? Moreover, how do I know how I want to practice (i.e. litigation vs transactional)? I'm primarily interested in issues of civil liberties and politics, and I know I'd hate to deal with criminal law.

Michigan is my top school, and from what I've seen it doesn't look like the T14 schools specialize as much as lower grade schools, so is specialization something I even need to be concerning myself with right now?


Michigan doesn't have as many (any?) specialty programs but when I was talking to someone in the admissions office when I visited she told me that there is really no point in a program as long as the school has the classes in the area you want to take. I think that is pretty good advice -- just because say Vandy has a dedicated program in Law and Business doesn't mean that you couldn't take the exact same classes at Michigan if you wanted.


I don't think any T-14 school has "specialty programs." That Vanderbilt program sounds pointless considering if you are interested in litigation, you take evidence, jurisdiction, corporations, sec reg, litigation-oriented clinic etc. (Well everyone should take the first four anyway.) If you are interested in transactional work, you should take corporation, securities reg, secured transactions, possibly mergers and acquisitions, a transactional clinic, etc. You're right though -- You plan your own schedule every semester post-1L with whatever classes you want to take, which makes sense.

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: Choosing a type of law

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:23 am

Essentially, you should take classes that you want to take.

NOTE: be weary of taking random classes that serve no purpose. Doing so probably won't hurt you, but you will probably look back after graduation and ask yourself why you wasted those opportunities to take more useful classes (i.e. don't take art law, law and literature, most of the international courses, etc.). Also, you should not take classes that cover subjects you could probably easily learn in practice or on your own (i.e. administrative law maybe?).

However, if some classes are under the curve, take them if you want to ensure a high GPA.

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chris0805
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Re: Choosing a type of law

Postby chris0805 » Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:20 pm

Aberzombie1892 wrote:Essentially, you should take classes that you want to take.

NOTE: be weary of taking random classes that serve no purpose. Doing so probably won't hurt you, but you will probably look back after graduation and ask yourself why you wasted those opportunities to take more useful classes (i.e. don't take art law, law and literature, most of the international courses, etc.). Also, you should not take classes that cover subjects you could probably easily learn in practice or on your own (i.e. administrative law maybe?).

However, if some classes are under the curve, take them if you want to ensure a high GPA.


As a recent graduate, I strongly disagree with this sentiment. It might be my practice area (I do public interest legal services), but aside from trial practice, just about EVERY single law school class was "useless" other than for the academic exercise of being intellectually challenged. I guess evidence and crim pro were useful too, but that might be it for me. So in that regard, law & literature was much more "useful" to me than fed courts, contracts, torts, and property combined.

Note, I'm not saying law school classes are useless, but they are, at least in my experience, primarily academic exercises, not preparation for the practice of law.

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NewHere
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Re: Choosing a type of law

Postby NewHere » Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:45 pm

What Chris said, mostly, but I'm going to do something I rarely do and disagree (in part) with Chris. I think you should take mostly (not exclusively) classes that you think you'll find interesting, because that way you get the most out of law school. But having said that, I don't consider many of the classes I took in law school to have been useless.

Even though many of the specific facts and rules and cases have no direct relevance to my current job, it is quite useful in my job, maybe even essential, to have a general idea of the mechanics of a lawsuit; what kind of thing to look for when reading a contract; how a crime can have an "act" component and a mental-state component and how mental states can differ from one another; what happens when you appeal an administrative decision; what it means to have standing; when information is privileged; what some of the hearsay exceptions are; what it means to have a fiduciary duty; etc. All that kind of stuff was covered in Civ Pro, Contracts, Crim Law, Admin Law, Fed Courts (Chris knows why I'm not saying Con Law here), Prof. Resp., Evidence, Corporations.

Of course nobody remembers the details of most of these areas after graduation, but the fact that we once learned the stuff means that some of it is triggered when it comes up in another context, and you might think "there was a rule about this. Let's look it up."

So my quibble with Chris's point is: everything is not as useless as you think. (I think.)

But I would agree that it is not good advice to avoid the "random classes." If you later end up working in a field for which you could have taken a class but didn't, you can always learn it then. Or during the bar course. The first-year classes are an exception, though: they are foundational in many respects. For upper-year classes, I would say there are a small number of exceptions: Corporations and Evidence. (I can't talk about Sec Reg, because I didn't take it. I did take Admin and would not consider it as essential as Corps and Evidence.)

Why these two? Because it is good for every lawyer, no matter in what field he or she is working, to know a bit about what a corporation is and what kind of evidence might be admissible in a courtroom. Just as it would probably be expected of any lawyer to know what a will is, and a fee simple absolute. But luckily for some, most people know what a will is without taking an entire class in wills and estates, and fee simple absolutes are part of most school's compulsory first-year curriculum.

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chris0805
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Re: Choosing a type of law

Postby chris0805 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:59 pm

NH took what I overstated, found the kernel of truth, weeded out my hyperbole and said what I was trying to in more complete, nuanced and eloquent way. Listen to her. (Well other than that take corporations stuff... :D).




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