Chronicles of a law student intern — picking a “major”

This post continues the series tracking a rising 3L through the process of securing his dream job.  Below are his insights about picking a major.

"LegalJob has previously written about the importance of picking a major while in law school and my experience with my 2L summer job hunt really supports this.  In fact, I would say that nearly every course you take at law school should be carefully chosen to target some potential employer or job type.

Your major should be in an area that has at least 4 classes available to take, preferably more.  Some majors that come to mind include intellectual property, tax, corporate law, family law, litigation, and health law.  If your major can build on any previous work experience then that would be ideal.  You should pick courses that are directly on topic and also ones that complement the area.  For example, if you want to specialize in corporate law then you should take corporations, securities regulations, venture capital law, and takeovers, but also consider complementary classes like corporate tax and bankruptcy.

After sorting your major you should carefully select other courses in a way that will maximize job opportunities.  I recommend looking at your school’s job board and reviewing every job opportunity for 2Ls and 3Ls to see what subjects would give you an “in” for those jobs.  Certain subjects spring to mind; for example, taking employment law and bankruptcy should open a number of new doors.  Think of this as an opportunity to add lots of strings to your bow.  It may only be one class in the topic, but you can always say,“I took a class in [family law] and now want to explore practice opportunities in that area.”  If you are feeling particularly adventurous then I will add that there is no need to stop at one major.  For example, tax and M&A work go hand-in-hand, as does intellectual property and litigation.

Having a major helps you with every step of the job-hunting process and distinguishes you from the crowd.  My major is tax and it helped me get a lot of informational interviews that I would never have gotten otherwise.  Most importantly, it landed me an excellent summer job.  While many students have taken a course in Federal income tax, not many have also taken corporate tax, international tax, and state and local taxes.  This opened up a whole host of potential attorneys to speak to and even got me a job interview for a position that was initially only for Tax LLM students.  The tax major was also a big factor in getting my summer job.  The firm specialized in tax work and specifically commented on my choice of subjects.  This can easily apply to other areas.  If you apply to work in M&A, attorneys will not be blown away by you having taken corporations, however if you have also taken securities, takeovers, etc, you may be in a stronger position vis a vis your peers."

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