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How to pick your area of legal practice

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Choices

There comes a time when you must decide on an area of legal practice you want to pursue. Whether you had an inkling of what you wanted to practice when you went into law school or are now deciding while taking your law courses, here are a few tips to consider:

Think about your personality

Can you envision yourself in the area of law you want to practice? If you want to litigate, are you the kind of person that can handle intense personalities in a courtroom and can think quickly on your feet? If you are thinking about transactional law, do you like the idea of constantly reading and editing? These are just a few questions you should be asking yourself. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses to help you decide. At the end of the day, you want to end up practicing in an area where you have exhibited some talent. 

Don’t waver in your choice

Once you decide on one area of practice, try not to waver in your decision too much. You want to be able to pick up experience relevant to one area of practice so that you have a better chance of impressing employers with skills you’ve acquired over the years. If you switch too many times, you won’t have the time to build solid experience in the area you ultimately want to pursue.

Think about the long-term

While traveling may sound appealing while in law school, do you want to be traveling throughout your entire career? Furthermore, do you want to have a career that has a more predictable workflow (i.e. tax, real estate)? Or do you like the unpredictability that comes with some areas i.e., prosecution?

Everyone can have a successful legal career but you have to take time to reflect now. More importantly, do your research! As you come closer to graduation, you want to be assured in your decisions and confident in your work and effort during law school.  

—Dominica Dul, GPSLD Intern, Spring 2018

ABA Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division The Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division (GPLSD) provides publications, programming, and online resources of specific interest to public lawyers; voice their concerns and interests in policy deliberations throughout the American Bar Association; promote professionalism and recognize excellence within the public sector. We strive to share key information, discuss contemporary topics, and tackle tough issues to help public sector lawyers sharpen and expand their expertise.