Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

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savesthedayajb
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Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby savesthedayajb » Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:49 pm

How important is one's specialization in law school for their legal employment prospects. As an example, would a specialization in legal theory or philosophy be detrimental to receiving a job in the private sector?

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reasonable_man
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Oct 28, 2009 2:05 pm

savesthedayajb wrote:How important is one's specialization in law school for their legal employment prospects. As an example, would a specialization in legal theory or philosophy be detrimental to receiving a job in the private sector?



For the most part, no one specializes in law school... You can load up on more of one type of a course and less of another and vice versa, but you don't really specialize. Though it never hurts to load up on stuff in an area you hope to practice. For instance, if you're going to be a prosecutor, you really would be well served by loading up on as many 4th and 5th amendment classes as you can, etc..

savesthedayajb
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby savesthedayajb » Wed Oct 28, 2009 2:09 pm

Thanks for the response. I'm really interested in legal theory and philosophy (thinking about the UCLA legal philosophy specialization) and I don't want that to hurt my chances.

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nealric
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby nealric » Wed Oct 28, 2009 2:23 pm

Thanks for the response. I'm really interested in legal theory and philosophy (thinking about the UCLA legal philosophy specialization) and I don't want that to hurt my chances.


Recruiting for large law firms takes place after 1L year, so you won't be specializing at the point you are hired. For clerkships, it shouldn't matter as long as you are getting good legal writing experience and take a reasonable amount of substantive law courses as well. Small firms could be hit-or-miss depending on the specialty.

That said, as an undergrad philosophy major and someone who loves philosophy, I don't really see a point of making this a specialty. Just take a few Law + Phil courses for fun. If you want to go into academia, you will most likely need to get a phil phd anyways (in which case you are better off doing it before law school for debt reasons).

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General Tso
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby General Tso » Wed Oct 28, 2009 2:24 pm

So RM what kind of curriculum do you suggest? I am thinking that I want to practice in real estate and tax; should I do the Tax concentration that my school offers? Or just try for a more well rounded education

savesthedayajb
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby savesthedayajb » Wed Oct 28, 2009 2:27 pm

nealric wrote:
Thanks for the response. I'm really interested in legal theory and philosophy (thinking about the UCLA legal philosophy specialization) and I don't want that to hurt my chances.


Recruiting for large law firms takes place after 1L year, so you won't be specializing at the point you are hired. For clerkships, it shouldn't matter as long as you are getting good legal writing experience and take a reasonable amount of substantive law courses as well. Small firms could be hit-or-miss depending on the specialty.

That said, as an undergrad philosophy major and someone who loves philosophy, I don't really see a point of making this a specialty. Just take a few Law + Phil courses for fun. If you want to go into academia, you will most likely need to get a phil phd anyways (in which case you are better off doing it before law school for debt reasons).


Thanks for the advice! Where would I be without TLS?

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reasonable_man
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Oct 28, 2009 2:31 pm

swheat wrote:So RM what kind of curriculum do you suggest? I am thinking that I want to practice in real estate and tax; should I do the Tax concentration that my school offers? Or just try for a more well rounded education


Personally.. while i was in school.. I went the 'well rounded' route and took as many litigation classes as I could when the opportunity presented itself.. I don't regret this at all..

However.. Real estate and tax are two areas that are very complex and frankly, learning as much about it as you can ahead of time really is a good option. Load up on the tax course and def take a good number of real estate courses as well.. after first year.. take a conveyancing class a class on mortgages and financing and a class on commercial transfers, etc.. for tax, def take all the basics as well as estate planning, corp tax, etc.. take estate planning after trusts and estates...

Must take classes IMHO:

(aside from first year required)
Evidence
trust and estates
Sales (article 2)
Bankruptcy or Article 9 secured transactions (or both if you want to practice bankruptcy)
Tax 1
Crim pro (at least one)
federal courts or conflicts of law both is probably overkill
family law (good for the bar exam)

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General Tso
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby General Tso » Wed Oct 28, 2009 2:33 pm

thanks RM

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nealric
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby nealric » Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:00 pm

So RM what kind of curriculum do you suggest? I am thinking that I want to practice in real estate and tax; should I do the Tax concentration that my school offers? Or just try for a more well rounded education


You are most likely going to need to pick either real estate or tax for practice. You can end up handling real estate tax issues, but most firms are going to hire you for one or the other in the short term. One exception is tax cert., which means contesting property taxes. My firm has such a department, but it is pretty tiny, and rarely takes people fresh out of law school.

I'm getting a joint JD/LLM in Tax. It's a very broad field, so it's hard to make too many recommendations without knowing what you see yourself getting into. If you do end up getting into tax, the most important core classes (IMO) are as follows:

Tax I (of course)
Corporate Tax
Tax of Partnerships (Many schools offer a "Tax II" course that combines corporate tax and tax of partnerships)
International Tax
Tax Accounting (a very different animal from financial accounting)
A class on a non-income type tax (Property, Sales, VAT)

Other than that, it really depends on your specialty. You could end up doing M&A tax, ERISA, Estate Planning, Tax Cert, Exempt organizations, Tax litigation, or a host of other things.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:05 pm

nealric wrote:
So RM what kind of curriculum do you suggest? I am thinking that I want to practice in real estate and tax; should I do the Tax concentration that my school offers? Or just try for a more well rounded education


You are most likely going to need to pick either real estate or tax for practice. You can end up handling real estate tax issues, but most firms are going to hire you for one or the other in the short term. One exception is tax cert., which means contesting property taxes. My firm has such a department, but it is pretty tiny, and rarely takes people fresh out of law school.

I'm getting a joint JD/LLM in Tax. It's a very broad field, so it's hard to make too many recommendations without knowing what you see yourself getting into. If you do end up getting into tax, the most important core classes (IMO) are as follows:

Tax I (of course)
Corporate Tax
Tax of Partnerships (Many schools offer a "Tax II" course that combines corporate tax and tax of partnerships)
International Tax
Tax Accounting (a very different animal from financial accounting)
A class on a non-income type tax (Property, Sales, VAT)

Other than that, it really depends on your specialty. You could end up doing M&A tax, ERISA, Estate Planning, Tax Cert, Exempt organizations, Tax litigation, or a host of other things.



Depending on the size of the firm and its feelings about specialization and the region he is practicing in.. its entirely likely that he might end up doing a little of both.. Not all firms are the same.

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nealric
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby nealric » Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:20 pm


Depending on the size of the firm and its feelings about specialization and the region he is practicing in.. its entirely likely that he might end up doing a little of both.. Not all firms are the same.



I agree that it's possible to get hired doing a bit of real estate and a bit of tax, but I just wouldn't count on it from the standpoint of someone planning a career. At a big firm it would be almost impossible.

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General Tso
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby General Tso » Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:22 pm

nealric wrote:

Depending on the size of the firm and its feelings about specialization and the region he is practicing in.. its entirely likely that he might end up doing a little of both.. Not all firms are the same.



I agree that it's possible to get hired doing a bit of real estate and a bit of tax, but I just wouldn't count on it from the standpoint of someone planning a career. At a big firm it would be almost impossible.


I'm not looking for big firm work though. And my understanding is that at least from an academic standpoint, the fields of tax and real estate run together in many ways.

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nealric
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby nealric » Wed Oct 28, 2009 4:00 pm

And my understanding is that at least from an academic standpoint, the fields of tax and real estate run together in many ways.


They can, although the tax issues that come up will depend quite a bit on what kind of real estate work you are doing.

Real estate won't come up all that much if you are just taking a general tax curriculum. You will cover 1031 exchanges and a few real-estate related provisions in tax I, but that's about it. That said, there are a lot of more general areas that can apply to real-estate (stuff like the capitalization/depreciation rules) but could really apply to a whole range of transactions.

Generally, the bigger the deal, the more likely there will be dedicated tax counsel involved.

The reason I advised picking one or the other is that in the end it seems like people are either tax lawyers who work on real-estate issues when they come up, or real-estate lawyers who work on tax issues when they come up.

pithypike
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby pithypike » Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:29 pm

How do you like your Tax classes?

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nealric
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby nealric » Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:38 pm

How do you like your Tax classes?


Wouldn't be doing the program if I didn't like tax :mrgreen:

I find tax is one of those things that is incredibly boring until you really understand the issues. Memorizing rules is always a drag, but working with them can be a lot of fun.

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Matthies
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby Matthies » Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:43 pm

I took a bit different track than RM and I specialized, and like Nelric got an MLS/LLM. I focused almost all my non-required classes exclusively on natural resources law, water law particularly. Also my journal work, my clinical work, and my clerking as well as publications were all in that area. This can be helpful if you know what you want to practice and are 100% sure that won’t change.

The main benefit is establishing relationships with people in the legal community that work in that field and getting job offers form that. You won’t be doing much OCI this way.

But, and this is a huge but, you have to be dedicated to that field, and you have to realize things like OCI are likely out. Given my resume and experience I can’t just apply to a firm and say I want to do bankruptcy now. No one is going to believe it, and they won’t expect me to stay.

So the draw back with specializing too much is that you pigeon hole yourself into one type of law and that limits how you can go about finding a job and where you can apply. For most folks, unless you’re the I only want to practice X or I won’t practice at all type (and I was), being a generalist is the best bet. Most people will become an X type lawyer based on what the firm has open when they hire you, not based on what they studied in law school.

linquest
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby linquest » Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:59 am

I don't think specializing in "legal theory or philosophy" will be a detriment or benefit because it's not a practice area like real estate or tax. If you want to specialize in a particular practice area though, I think how marketable the specialization might be depends on how small the field is--both in terms of how many attorneys specialize in the field and how narrow/isolated the body of law is. Real estate and tax are fairly broad, many attorneys practice in these areas and their laws intersect with a lot of other fields. Specialties like health, IP, and maritime are more niche fields where employers might like to see more focused studies.

Although my school didn't have formal concentrations, I took every elective in my specialty that was available. Quite honestly, I had very little interest in courses outside of that field. My grades probably would've suffered if I'd been forced to take a more "well-rounded" approach to course selection in my upper years, and that definitely would've been detrimental to my job prospects!

Ditto to Matthies, as usual.

toolfan
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby toolfan » Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:53 pm

@ linquest:
Were you at all nervous for the bar? I mean, isn't it beneficial to, say, spread out your cirriculum, aside from concentrations, as to expose yourself to many aspects of law possibly thrown at you on the bar?

270910
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby 270910 » Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:05 am

toolfan wrote:@ linquest:
Were you at all nervous for the bar? I mean, isn't it beneficial to, say, spread out your cirriculum, aside from concentrations, as to expose yourself to many aspects of law possibly thrown at you on the bar?


No. You learn everything for the bar in a review course anyway. Taking a 'bar prep' course load is a good way to needlessly hamstring your legal education.

solidsnake
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Re: Specialization in LS for Legal Employment

Postby solidsnake » Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:15 am

reasonable_man wrote:
swheat wrote:So RM what kind of curriculum do you suggest? I am thinking that I want to practice in real estate and tax; should I do the Tax concentration that my school offers? Or just try for a more well rounded education


Personally.. while i was in school.. I went the 'well rounded' route and took as many litigation classes as I could when the opportunity presented itself.. I don't regret this at all..

However.. Real estate and tax are two areas that are very complex and frankly, learning as much about it as you can ahead of time really is a good option. Load up on the tax course and def take a good number of real estate courses as well.. after first year.. take a conveyancing class a class on mortgages and financing and a class on commercial transfers, etc.. for tax, def take all the basics as well as estate planning, corp tax, etc.. take estate planning after trusts and estates...

Must take classes IMHO:

(aside from first year required)
Evidence
trust and estates
Sales (article 2)
Bankruptcy or Article 9 secured transactions (or both if you want to practice bankruptcy)
Tax 1
Crim pro (at least one)
federal courts or conflicts of law both is probably overkill
family law (good for the bar exam)


Helpful poast as usual, rm.

So do you think that land use, real estate financing, and trusts and estates issues come up often enough in a general commercial lit context to justify taking the courses in law school? Also, again assuming a commercial lit practice viz. specifically litigating m&a deals that have gone bad, how relevant are corporate tax courses? I have had lawyers tell me that you just want to know enough to be able to spot the issue on the financial statement so that you can call one of the tax guys over to your group to look at it.




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