Pick a law major — part one

LegalJob recently spoke to upcoming 2Ls and 3Ls about the importance of "picking a major" in law school even though not required to graduate.  Posted here is some of that advice along with concerns raised by the students and addressed.  The next post on this subject will discuss how to use the major to secure employment.  The reason it is important to pick a major is that employers (who are looking to mitigate their risk that you won't work out) generally prefer to hire someone who has shown strong interest and commitment to a particular practice area.

"Pick a major" by demonstrating some commitment to the practice area.

  • Any sustained pattern could work
  • Multiple law school classes in one subject area
  • Work experience (before or during law school; unpaid could work)
  • Clinics

How do you pick?

  • Consider current growth areas that also match your interests (i.e., tax and health care law)
  • Connect with 10-15 alumni with whom you share items in common and ask them for specifics about what it is like to practice xyz law
  • Obtain contact information for these people through your career services office
    • Ask for various lists for people starting with those you have the most in common with (same background, hometown, undergraduate school, undergraduate major, sports, same hobby, etc.)

Don't be afraid to commit for fear of missing out on other areas.

  • You can change and may change your major (so the sooner you pick, the better)
  • All is not lost if you spent a long time on the wrong major
    • You should be able to transfer some or all of the skills/education to the new major
    • The pitch to the employer is not so much you like this versus that but that your skill set is more suitable for the current area for the following identifiable reasons...(that help you think, talk, and write like a lawyer practicing this kind of law).  More on this thought in the next post.

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