What Questions Should I Ask Before Choosing My Law Specialty?

by CherrellT on March 12, 2012

What type of law should I specialize in? This is a question that crosses the minds of many college graduates and law school hopefuls when as the get closer to graduation. The same question often lingers even after taking on an internship at a law firm, or a judicial clerkship at a public institution. For young attorneys, this decision is just as significant as the one they made years before when they first enrolled into law school.

Doing What You Love

The constraints of modern life make it difficult for just about anyone to choose a career path they truly love. Since 2008, many American lawyers have ended up leaving the legal profession altogether, mostly due to the bleak employment landscape for attorneys at the time. A lot of these lawyers who gave up on their profession were more than likely practicing law out of convenience and opportunity rather than devotion.

The first introspective question of anyone interested in the law should be: Do I really want to practice law for the rest of my life? If the answer is a resounding and passionate yes, then finding the right specialty will be an easy endeavor. For attorneys who are genuinely interested in the intellectual and ethical challenges of the law, as well as in the impact of the judicial system upon society, sitting down to decide a specialty should be fun. In fact, devoted attorneys will probably end up specializing in more than one practice during their careers.

For those who pursue legal careers for reasons other than true vocation, the best advice is to talk to career counselors, family and friends about other options. Being an attorney requires a lot of drive and dedication, and when those two elements are absent from a law practice the chances of success are sharply reduced.

A Wide Variety of Options

If there is a legal or judicial challenge somewhere; it is very likely that a specialized practice for it exists. There are also traditional specialties like criminal, corporate, family, personal injury, probate, and real estate law that many law students are familiar with due to their prominence. Other areas of law cater to niche clients that have far more complex needs and thus reward practitioners with steady clientele and a substantial work load.

The key to choosing the right specialty is to think about how rewarding it can be; not just monetarily, but also in terms of personal and professional development. Sports and entertainment law, for example, can be very interesting in the sense that clients are usually in the limelight, and it is thus incumbent upon their attorneys to protect personal and public image interests separately. Working in a public defender or prosecutorial practice may not be a very lucrative option, at least not in the beginning, but the criminal practice experience gained therein is invaluable and can be followed by a very successful practice, a potential judgeship, or even a career in public office.

The Right Questions to Ask

Do you like to get to know your clients personally and ensure that justice is served in their case? If the answer is yes, personal injury and criminal practice are two areas to consider. Both practices entail a certain degree of involvement with the client that makes it easier to stand up for their interest, and in the case of personal injury law, compensation can be beneficial to both client and counsel.

Do you enjoy cerebral and academic challenges that can make a huge difference in common law jurisdictions? If so, a practice that concentrates on representing clients before appellate courts would be ideal. The greatest reward could come from winning a trial that garners media attention and goes on to become a landmark case. The rewards in such a case would turn from intellectual to highly lucrative, as high-profile law firms and clients tend to notice such victories.

By taking these questions into consideration, it will help you to choose the right direction for your career. Pay attention to your time in internship as it will give you real world experience that you can base your decision on.

Author Sandy Landsford is an attorney and blogs in her spare time for www.carinsurance.org.uk, where you can get a quote for cheap car insurance!

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