Some prospective lawyers know the exact area of law they intend to practice before they have even begun their first day of law school. For others, the decision does not come so easy. After all, it can be difficult to make such career-defining decisions. Law is broad, and legal careers can come in many different forms. How is one to narrow down such a wide array of options to determine their personal preferences?
To determine what you like, you must also determine what you don’t like. For many, law school offers the first comprehensive exposure to different areas of law. This is the time to explore and test different kinds of law and begin the process of narrowing the decision. While it is important to achieve strong grades and set yourself up for the future, it is also crucial that you use your time in law school to determine your interests. This can be done by taking different classes that focus on areas of law that you might have an interest in.
Litigator or solicitor
To get some hands-on experience, you can also explore different clubs or extra-curricular opportunities like pro-bono work, legal aid clinics, or moots. These opportunities can help you determine what areas of law you enjoy, and more broadly, your interest in the general aspects of a legal career such as being a litigator versus being a solicitor.
Do not fret if you take a class or pursue an extra-curricular opportunity and find that it is not for you. You have narrowed down your search and may have picked up some information that will be useful while writing the bar exam.
After narrowing your preferences in law school, your time as a summer student or articling student presents a terrific opportunity to find your calling. During this time, you will have the opportunity to get a comprehensive look at the day-to-day life of lawyers practicing different areas of law.
Ask lawyers for work
While summering or articling, it is important that you seek out the opportunities in areas of law you may be interested in. This may involve requesting work from lawyers in certain practice groups, shadowing lawyers in client meetings, attending court to observe a lawyer speak to a matter, or managing a small claims file. These real-life experiences will give you the insight necessary to determine what area of law is right for you.
While choosing the area of law you would like to practice can be stressful, it is also an opportunity to explore new experiences. It is important to keep an open mind and take time to make these decisions.
Jason DiFruscia finished his articles at Harrison Pensa and is now an associate with the Restructuring, Insolvency and Bankruptcy group.
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