How do I choose a law specialization?

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RickyDnwhyc
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Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:04 pm

How do I choose a law specialization?

Postby RickyDnwhyc » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:08 am

Is this something most people figure out during, before, or after law school? (Ex: Corporate law, patent law, criminal law, environmental law, civil law)

How should I, as a prospective law student, figure this out? Isn't it important to decide this now, since many law schools have stronger reputations for certain types of law?

It would probably help me with deciding which LS I want to attend. Although I'm not exactly familiar with the way law school curriculums even work.

Should this not be a major part of my decision when it comes to picking a law school?

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bk1
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Re: How do I choose a law specialization?

Postby bk1 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:15 am

Most law students aren't entirely sure themselves what they want to do. Ideally you'd have some sort of idea (e.g. do you want to work at a big firm representing large corporations? do you not want to do litigation at all and thus do transactional? do you want to work in PI? etc), but most people just have a vague idea.

RickyDnwhyc wrote:since many law schools have stronger reputations for certain types of law?


No they do not.

katjust
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Re: How do I choose a law specialization?

Postby katjust » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:19 am

I don't know how you pick a specialization. However, if you don't absolutely know for sure what you want to do right now there is no reason to pick a school based on course offerings. I partially went to L&C based upon an interest in animal law. I ended up never taking a class in animal law. Go to the best school you can/best deal you can get, in a location you would like to live. You will probably discover something you are interested in during law school, or you will get summer jobs where you will develop specific skills.


As far as stronger reputations, there are schools that do have better reputations for certain types of law. I know some natural resources firms that will look more kindly on graduates from environmental law schools (L&C, Vermont, Pace) than some schools. However, you still have a better shot at a job coming from a T-20 or something.

RickyDnwhyc
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Re: How do I choose a law specialization?

Postby RickyDnwhyc » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:31 am

Thank you for your responses. I'm really not sure about anything yet. I wish I could be representing a huge corporation one day, and a death row inmate the next day, like on Boston Legal, but obviously that's not going to happen :(

How do you go about discovering this during Law School? Is there really enough time and flexibility to take a class in every/most different type(s) of law? Do the law courses give you an idea of what the actual practice of that law is like?

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sambeber
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Re: How do I choose a law specialization?

Postby sambeber » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:45 am

RickyDnwhyc wrote:Thank you for your responses. I'm really not sure about anything yet. I wish I could be representing a huge corporation one day, and a death row inmate the next day, like on Boston Legal, but obviously that's not going to happen :(

How do you go about discovering this during Law School? Is there really enough time and flexibility to take a class in every/most different type(s) of law? Do the law courses give you an idea of what the actual practice of that law is like?


From a big picture perspective, it seems to me like there are basically two elements to this decision: the procedural, and the substantive.

You need to figure out what kind of work, from a procedural point of view, you like to do? Research, writing, negotiating, editing, advising, calculating, etc. Concrete, self-contained projects, or long-term ongoing projects? Large amounts of work bunched together at unpredictable times, or large amounts of work spread out over a longer time period? Forget about the legal/content component for now; think about your personality and previous work experiences. This will give you a sense of whether you're more interested in litigation or corporate (and to some tax, bankruptcy, and a few other niche practices). It will also help with specialties within those categories, to some extent (i.e., M&A v. capital markets).

Now think about the substantive. This is more the thrust of your question, but is frankly less relevant, especially if you're going to a firm. Do you like learning about companies' business operations? finance? science? civil rights? housing? etc. That will help you figure out, in conjunction with the procedural inquiry above, what content area might be of interest to you. It will help you whittle down the universe of classes to try out.

Both of these processes will happen slowly while you're in school, and during your first summer. Take your time, and don't go to a school just because it is known for strength in practice area X.

RickyDnwhyc
Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:04 pm

Re: How do I choose a law specialization?

Postby RickyDnwhyc » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:11 pm

sambeber wrote:
RickyDnwhyc wrote:Thank you for your responses. I'm really not sure about anything yet. I wish I could be representing a huge corporation one day, and a death row inmate the next day, like on Boston Legal, but obviously that's not going to happen :(

How do you go about discovering this during Law School? Is there really enough time and flexibility to take a class in every/most different type(s) of law? Do the law courses give you an idea of what the actual practice of that law is like?


From a big picture perspective, it seems to me like there are basically two elements to this decision: the procedural, and the substantive.

You need to figure out what kind of work, from a procedural point of view, you like to do? Research, writing, negotiating, editing, advising, calculating, etc. Concrete, self-contained projects, or long-term ongoing projects? Large amounts of work bunched together at unpredictable times, or large amounts of work spread out over a longer time period? Forget about the legal/content component for now; think about your personality and previous work experiences. This will give you a sense of whether you're more interested in litigation or corporate (and to some tax, bankruptcy, and a few other niche practices). It will also help with specialties within those categories, to some extent (i.e., M&A v. capital markets).

Now think about the substantive. This is more the thrust of your question, but is frankly less relevant, especially if you're going to a firm. Do you like learning about companies' business operations? finance? science? civil rights? housing? etc. That will help you figure out, in conjunction with the procedural inquiry above, what content area might be of interest to you. It will help you whittle down the universe of classes to try out.

Both of these processes will happen slowly while you're in school, and during your first summer. Take your time, and don't go to a school just because it is known for strength in practice area X.


Thanks for the erudite response. In terms of the substantive I don't really have a preference. I find finance, science, and civil rights equally amusing. I'm most likely shooting for working at a Biglaw firm, but I don't know much about clerkships and what other options are out there, so my mind could easily change during law school.

I like writing, researching, advising... but in a legal environment? I have no idea. I can deal with unpredictability, Litigation sounds exciting compared to the alternative.

Hilarion
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Re: How do I choose a law specialization?

Postby Hilarion » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:39 am

Any idea on what the job outlook is like for immigration lawyers versus other law specializations? Or employment lawyers?




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