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How to Determine What Type of Law to Practice

By Stephanie Sundheimer

Just as not everyone is cut out for law school, not every law school student is cut out for every type of law. Deciding on the area of law you should practice can mean the difference between loving and hating your legal career. Whether you are a looking to go to law school, you’re a current law school student, or even a recent grad, there are likely so many options available to you that narrowing down the best fit can seem to be a daunting and endless task. So how do you determine a direction to take?

Do your research.

What you don’t want to do is decide on one type of law without knowing all of your options. You may think you want to go one direction without knowing what type of work you would actually be doing, or you might decide on something that you are interested in without knowing that the perfect job for you even exists. The best decision is an informed decision—before you make your choice and run with it, know what you are getting yourself into and what you could be missing out on.

Meet with a career advisor.

Many undergraduate colleges and universities as well as law schools offer career advising services with professionals who deal with people like you on a daily basis. If you aren’t sure what type of practice suits your interests the best, meeting with a career advisor could enlighten you when it comes to discovering how your legal knowledge and concerns could best be put into use. Further, a career advisor could also help open your eyes to options you didn’t even know existed.

Shadow a practicing lawyer.

You may think you have a good idea when it comes to the type of law you want to practice, but the problem with law school is that students typically get very little hands on, practical experience that they can apply once they get into the workforce. Shadowing a lawyer in your field of interest will give you a better idea of what you would actually be doing on a daily basis. In addition, the lawyer you shadow or practice you intern at can serve as an excellent resource for answering questions you may have about your potential career options.

Don’t be afraid to change your mind.

If you are headed in one direction and you start to feel like it isn’t what you thought it was going to be, be open to changing things up. The last thing you want to do is to get stuck in a job that you don’t enjoy. There are so many directions that you can take a legal career that if one area doesn’t work out, you still have a lot more to choose from. The key is recognizing your strengths and your interests and creating a plan that will work for you.

Stephanie Sundheimer writes on behalf of The Nichols Law Firm, PLC, a Lansing, Michigan based team of criminal defense attorneys specializing in personal injury, Michigan family law, and drunk driving defense.

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