The law student's dilemma in a specialization


With the introduction of technology and other skills, industries are developing at a positive rate. Also, with the advent of the pandemic, there has been a serious need to improvise the current methods of working. Particularly, the legal industry has seen a great shift. From court trials being held through videoconferencing to the increase in the use of AI to simplify paperwork, there have been many developments. As we have now entered the post-covid era there is an immediate need of teaching these new skills to young law students and other professionals. To improve their credibility, it is important to lay a strong foundation. Therefore, every law school has its approach towards the curriculum they follow and it acts as a major factor while deciding which legal specialty the student should choose.


Even though the basics remain the same, other factors create a difference in shaping the minds of legal aspirants, like- analysis of a case, research work, critical thinking, perspective building, etc. Even though thousands of students pass out from law school every year, yet only a few make it to reputed institutions. For instance, Victoria Gentry, Sweet Briar alumna and managing attorney at The Immigration Group in Nashville, Tennessee had this to say about the law school, ‘It focused on preparing students to be professionals in the legal field. Our professors used to call students “Ms.” or “Mr.” Students were expected to behave professionally as if their classmates are their co-counsel or opposing counsel. They even expect students to stand when they are called to answer in the class. These practices were meant to prepare students for interacting respectfully in front of a judge or a boardroom." Hence a good law school plays a vital role in helping students to choose their legal specialization. While choosing a legal specialty, many factors act as a deciding factor. The article below highlights some of these factors which must be considered while choosing a legal specialty.


1. KNOW YOUR FORTE

While deciding the legal specialty, knowing one’s forte is important. While there are many types of legal specialization to choose from, there are many factors that determine which type of law to practice. For instance, people consider the factor of which legal specialty earns the most. This list ranges from trial lawyers, intellectual property lawyers, tax attorneys, real estate attorneys, chief legal officers, judges, members of the assembly, law school professors, law firm administrators, and so on. Law students should list their preferences and chalk out colleges offering those specializations and check for prospects of that subject.


Apart from this, extensive research must be done before finalizing which field must be chosen. It is recommended that a student should at least keep two specialization choices as it’ll help in determining the student’s field of interest after they explore and practice it properly.


2. SELF-ASSESSMENT TOOLS

The best way to find out which field suits you best is by exploring it properly. Law professionals should take repeated assessments to find out where they stand and what field they should choose to specialize in. There are many benefits of engaging in self-assessment in law school. They help you in identifying your interests, values, and skills. During the process of self-assessment, students explore the “must-have” elements critical to career satisfaction. These assessments should be done from reputed sources to get solid results. Apart from this, law students can play a full part in law school and discover their USP based on goal setting process and reviews by their mentors.


3. THINK WISELY

Even though legal jobs are highly reputed and well paid, they aren't easy to perform. With all the perks they provide, it can be stressful and one is susceptible to making a great deal of enmity in most cases with the most dangerous people. Also, succeeding in law jobs requires immense effort and puts an excessive amount of strain upon lawyers.


It is therefore important that the student ponders well before choosing his law specialization. He/she should think about how long they are going to practice and how the chosen law field is going to sustain for years to come. Considering the advent of COVID-19, there has been a rise in demand for lawyers. The 2008 recession triggered the launch of new companies and entrepreneurs. As a result, covid-19 resulted in the emergence of a whole host of new business owners. Hence the demand for lawyers has been high to help companies grow and evolve.


4. ADVICE MATTERS

Proper supervision is necessary. Seeking your professor's advice is accurate for law students as they are the ones who supervise these basic assessments.


5. ALLOW CHANGE IN CIRCUMSTANCES

As a legal aspirant, you should always keep in mind that your current field of specialization might not be in demand after a few years, or you may get disinterested eventually. The best advice during these times is to just stick by your thoughts and make the necessary changes while you are willing to since it is easier to change a field earlier, rather than doing it decades later. For example, the occurrence of covid-19 has brought smaller firms under the light. As larger law organizations are already making many layoffs and pay cuts, small firms are thriving. With their staff already working remotely, they are better equipped to handle long closures.


6. IMPORTANCE OF JOB SHADOWING FOR LAW STUDENTS

The main purpose of job shadowing is to help students, interns, or employees who are interested in a job profile in which they don't have any experience. In the case of a legal student, job shadowing plays an important role as not many of them are aware of the work culture, ethics, and ambiance. Choosing a well-established and talented person to shadow for, will open up various perspectives and might enhance the law student’s work morale.

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