Admittedly, before I enrolled in law school, I shared the view of many lay people of what lawyers do for work: That is, they go to the courtroom and argue for their clients. It did not take long to realize how skewed that view of the legal profession was in comparison to the reality that there is not a typical lawyer job.
Some lawyers are engaged in criminal and civil litigation, while others are leading athletic departments, facilitating mergers and acquisitions, or leading government departments. Perhaps a bit more fun, there are electronic video gaming lawyers helping to ensure the next Madden Football or Red Dead Redemption games are protected from copyright infringement while also meeting the complex regulatory framework.
After I discovered how much I did not know about what a lawyer does, I also had to figure out what did I want to do as a lawyer. Some might tell you that as a 1L you have plenty of time to decide what your role will be in the legal profession. I slightly disagree.
While you certainly don’t have to decide by tomorrow, you do not want to waste opportunities that might help you decide what is your dream job. There are golden opportunities that are discovered in internships and externships that would be invaluable to your search.
I will use my own experience to highlight this point. When I first enrolled in law school, I was determined to be a criminal defense lawyer someday. However, the first offer for a summer internship came from a judge in Miami with a civil docket. Taking my mentor’s advice, I gave it a try.
It took less than a week before I realized how much I loved civil litigation. During the spring of my 2L year, I interned with an agency that does advocacy for persons with disabilities. Although I enjoyed the work, I was more inspired by the stories shared by my supervisor about prior work in corporate litigation.
Thinking I may be on to something, I also took a corporations class to see if it would stoke the fire, and it certainly did. The summer following my 2L year, I split the summer between an insurance defense firm and a corporate litigation firm.
After spending 60 hours per week digging through documents, attending hearings and trials, and writing motions and briefs, I was completely in love with corporate litigation. To my surprise, before my 3L year started, I was hired by a corporate litigation firm.
“If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life,” so the saying goes. I began my law school career with that in mind, and I charted my experiences to help discover what I would be passionate about. I found it in corporate litigation.
Where will you find your dream job? The search begins now. Don’t delay thinking about your future. As you chart your internship and externship experiences, use them to identify what makes you happy, so you will never have to work a day in your life.