Law school does not always prepare students for an important factor in the success of their careers. Choosing an area of practice is something to take seriously and there are many things to consider. It’s imperative that you take the stability of the field, as well as your own personal ability and satisfaction into account when deciding on an area of practice.
Law is an incredibly competitive field so choosing and committing to an area of practice is best to accomplish while still in school. Employers are interested in candidates that have already shown interest in a specific field. Once you’ve decided on an area that best suits your personal agenda you can begin demonstrating interest by more focused classwork or an internship.
When a firm is hiring, employers are going to lean towards someone who has interest and knowledge of what it is they are hiring for. It can allow you to stand out from other interviewers that may not have a focus, and even assist you in narrowing down your job search. As a lawyer’s career lengthens it can be increasingly difficult to change fields. By committing to an area of practice early you can gain expertise that will help you to grow professionally.
Certain areas of law practice are a better fit for certain types of personality. There are three broad areas of law and each involves a unique skill-set. Take inventory of your strengths and weaknesses so you can better match yourself to a practice area. For instance, corporate lawyers, which include real estate and finance are best suited for someone interested in commercial affairs and business aspects. Corporate lawyers spend a lot of time drafting contracts and closing deals, so if that sounds like something you’d find enjoyable consider how well you work within a structure of interpreting contracts and paying close attention to details.
Furthermore, if you’ve despised legal writing and research classes then you may not want to be a litigator. Litigators often work at large firms or as trial attorneys and spend large amounts of time researching, writing, and thinking analytically. Many cases are fought and settled without ever moving to the courtroom, so someone in this field should enjoy developing advocacy and dealing with writing and discovery.
If, while in school, you’ve realized that you have a passion for a specific subject or issue then you may want to consider being a regulatory lawyer. These lawyers practise at all types of levels and there are many government agencies that employ them for things such as drug laws, energy, healthcare, or the environment. As a regulatory lawyer, you will handle administrative hearings, lend legal advice to companies, and interpret laws in regards to very specific schemes.
When it comes to choosing an area of law practice, make sure that you’re doing your research. Attend industry events, speak to lawyers in different fields, and read as much as you can. It is vital that you understand your goals by being aware of what different career paths and practice areas look like.