What to focus on as a 1L — part two

This post continues the discussion about “picking a major.”  The question is how can a 1L have any real idea what area of law he or she may enjoy practicing?  After all, many law students are in law school because they could not decide on a career path in college.  

So, how is that going to change now?  Here are three ideas:

1. Think hard. 
It seems obvious but spend some serious time considering what it is you like spending your time thinking about.  What are your hobbies?  What types of books/magazines appeal to you?  What are you particularly a natural at?  If you do not know, you friends and family probably have some thoughts.  There area also tons of books out there that purport to help you discover what makes you tick.

2. Consider law fields where demand is high.
It would be nice if you can eventually match your interest to an area where demand for legal services happens to be high.  You may not be able to but if you have no clue this step is worth doing.  Use the career development office and other resources to help analyze which legal practice areas are booming.  Regulatory ones will likely always be strong and in particular consider areas where Congress has passed some major legislation recently (or will tinker with in the future) — tax, healthcare, intellectual property, securities law, etc.

3. Network with a plan.  
Ask the career development office to provide you with lists of people for which you have commonalities or so called touch-points.  Some examples — same undergraduate school, same undergraduate major, same hometown, similar cultural background, etc.  One of the touch points could be an area of law you may be interested but you may not know that yet so it is okay if that is not on the list.  Contact these people for the purpose of finding out about how he or she ended up in the legal field for which they are practicing.  State upfront that you are not looking for a job.  Request a short meeting for coffee in the am or whatever is convenient for them and wherever it would be easiest for them to meet.  Be mindful of their time.  The goal of each meeting is to get a name of another contact person they think would be helpful for you to meet.

4. Match your interest to booming legal field.
This is the goal but obviously may not be possible for everyone.  After you have contemplated your interests, researched the growing legal areas, and learned how others ended up where they did (and whether they are happy), hopefully you will have sufficient information to pick your major.  If not, repeat steps 1-3 until you can.