Choosing a specialty can be one of the most difficult decisions you’ll make during law school. You’ll have to balance your strengths, interests, and professional goals with job market data, salary statistics, and prestige to ensure that you land in an industry that will allow you to grow and succeed. Although there are no hard-and-fast rules for choosing a specialty, and everyone’s situation is different, here are some tips for finding the area of law that’s right for you.
1. Look for the areas of law that you’re most interested in
Choosing a specialty is a crucial part of your career, so it’s important to make sure you’re choosing one that interests you. You may be able to change your specialty later, but starting with something you enjoy can help ensure that the first few years of law school are meaningful and successful.
When choosing a specialty, look for areas of law that match your interests and personality. Some students are drawn to criminal justice or international relations, while others prefer taxation or business law. Still, others find themselves drawn toward family or environmental law.
Keep in mind that some specialties will have stricter prerequisites than others. If you’re interested in tax law but didn’t major in accounting as an undergraduate student, this may not be the right path for you.
2. Be wary of choosing a specialty based on salary statistics
The truth is, these statistics don’t tell the whole story. Tax law is a lucrative field, but it’s also highly competitive and requires many years of postgraduate education before you can even sit for the bar exam. On the other hand, family law doesn’t pay as well. Still, it’s more accessible to people with undergraduate degrees in any subject area and usually requires only a few months of additional training once you’ve passed the bar exam.
The point is, don’t let the numbers fool you. If you’re passionate about a certain area of law and want to pursue it as a career, then go for it. Make sure your chosen path will lead to something that makes you happy—not just wealthy.
3. Identify your strengths, and use them to help you choose a field
By this point, you have a good idea of the different areas of law in which to specialize. The next step is to identify your strengths and use them to help you choose a field. For example, if you’re great at research and writing, then perhaps tax law would be a good fit. Or maybe divorce mediation is the right path for you if you’re good at people skills and conflict resolution. You should choose a field based on your strengths, not just because it’s the most lucrative or prestigious.
4. Find an area of law that allows you to make full use of your skills and interests
It’s important to find a field of law that allows you to apply your talents and passions. Don’t choose a specialty just because it’s popular or easy, lucrative or prestigious. The best way to pick a specialty is by thinking about what you want to do as a lawyer and then choosing the area of law that fits those criteria. For example, if you want to help people injured by automobile accidents, consider becoming an accident attorney. If you want to work with children who need legal services due to their parents’ drug-related problems, consider becoming a juvenile defense lawyer or special advocate.
5. Don’t stress about which field is more prestigious than others
It’s important to remember that the prestige of a given field is not an objective fact. Rather, it’s a subjective value based on opinions about which fields are best or most prestigious. For example, some people may think that patent law is more prestigious than civil rights law. This can be because patents are more lucrative or because they believe that patent lawyers are smarter than civil rights lawyers (or worse).
It also depends on whom you ask. Some people think that criminal defense and family law are two of the most prestigious fields in legal practice, and others would tell them they’re wrong. Again, this is just because there’s no definition for what makes a field prestigious—it all depends on how others perceive your chosen area of focus.
6. Make sure you’re satisfied with the lifestyle that comes along with each career path
Your chosen career path will have a lot to do with your lifestyle. Make sure you’re satisfied with the lifestyle that comes along with each career path.
If you’re considering a career as an attorney, you can expect long work hours and frequent travel. You may also have to deal with office politics, which can sometimes be frustrating and upsetting. If this sounds like something that would make it difficult for you to raise children or pursue other interests outside of the law, then maybe being an attorney isn’t right for you after all.
There are other legal careers that may be better suited for your goals and aspirations—and they might offer more flexibility. For example, working in law enforcement offers shorter hours than many other areas of criminal justice, and paralegals rarely travel outside their city limits (and often don’t attend court hearings).
Also, there are many other careers in the legal field that would allow you to work with clients but not necessarily on their cases. For example, there are jobs as legal secretaries and paralegals, which offer a more flexible schedule than attorneys do.
While law school is a lot of work, it’s also a great time to explore your interests and passions. Choosing a specialty will allow you to deepen your knowledge in a particular area and develop skills that will be useful throughout your career. You can also use this information to help shape your career path after graduation when you’re looking for internships or jobs during law school.