Law students, no matter what age, decide to pursue a legal career for a variety of reasons. They can be encouraged by a family member who is an attorney, or they were inspired either by fictional television shows or non-fiction court proceedings such as the O.J. Simpson trial.
When I conducted an orientation for first-year students at our law school, the one thing I told them was not to worry about what area of law they need to specialize, but that the law itself would decide that for them long before they took their first, and hopefully only, bar exam. Use these easy tips and discover your passion.
Join the American Bar Association, law student division. This will give you an immediate feel for the various areas of law practice while also developing your professional network for your career.
Join your local county Bar Association. In many areas, each county has its own Bar Association that offers student membership. You will receive a directory of attorneys who are listed by their area of practice. While law school covers 14 legal topics, there can be up to 75 specific areas of practice that have their own unique qualities.
Attend monthly mixers and Association special events. Network with attorneys who work in the specific area of practice you feel a strong affiliation. As a student member, you will receive a monthly calendar of events, some of which are practice specific to qualify for CLE credit.
Volunteer with non-profit legal organizations. If there are organizations in your area that offer low-income legal services, some will use law student volunteers to advise clients. Check your local social services directory.
Intern with a law firm or legal organization. There are many national legal organizations such as the ACLU, the Institute for Justice and the ADL who offer intern programs for law students who wish to gain experience in their particular field.
Connect your other passions with area of the law. What other interests do you have outside of law? If you enjoy writing, you might also enjoy Intellectual Property Law. If you are concerned about the planet, you might think about Environmental Law. If your parents and grandparents are living, you might have an interest in Elder Law, Probate or Estate Planning. All of these areas may also have their own associations that include student memberships.
Whatever your personal passion, there is an area of law for you. You only have to do a bit of research to find it!