When you go to law school everyone tells you that you don’t need to know what type of law you want to practice. The goal is to go to law school to learn about the law. This way of thinking is great when you love the law and also happen to do very well on law school exams. Students that enjoy learning for the sake of learning, usually do great in law school. However, this is not the only way to “do” law school and in my opinion probably not the best.
When I came to law school I had a vague idea about what kind of law I wanted to practice. I finished my first semester of law school and I found myself wondering why I even went to law school to begin with. All of the sudden my “niche” fell into my laps. I developed and grew my love and passion for this niche and eventually, it helped me get my first job at a firm. It also helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Here are a few things to consider when looking for a “niche.”
Why did you go to law school?
There must have been some reason that you decided law school was the right step for you. Did you go because you wanted to help those in need? Did you go because you liked school? Did you go because your undergrad degree was useless and you had to do something else? Or maybe, let’s be honest, you went because you thought you could make tons of money by becoming a lawyer?
I went to law school for reason number 1 and 3. I had an international affairs degree from a liberal arts college and I had no idea what I was going to do in the “real world” with that degree. But because of my international affairs degree, I wanted to help and I felt that getting a law degree was the best way to do that. Except, there was another part of me that loved business and technology.
In fact, every single internship I did during my undergrad was at large tech companies. In those companies, I got to hang out with some pretty cool attorneys that dealt with legal issues in the technology world. If you would have asked me two years ago why I was going to law school, I would have told you, “to do immigration law.” What I really wanted to do was become one of those attorneys at the tech companies I had worked for. Needless to say, I went to law school pretty unsure about what I wanted to do. I just knew I had gotten into a good school and I was going.
Knowing why you went to law school is important because in the midst of the chaos of law school when you really wonder why you are doing this, that initial reason why you wanted to go to law school creeps back in. About six months ago, I remembered why I had gone to law school and my view of law school and my future career drastically changed. By the way, sorry for all the run on sentences in the blog post!
Get Involved in Projects and Clubs Outside your Law School!
During your 1l year, it seems like your home is the law school. You eat there, you socialize there, and at times, you’ve even been guilty of sleeping there. Eventually, you start to realize that all that time you spent in the law school is unhealthy and makes you a really unhappy person.
When that happened to me, I started looking for things to do outside of the law school. I naturally got involved in Technology associations, I spoke to attorneys that focused on technology, I became the coach of a little girls lego league, and I started a blog. I also got involved in startups, which is what I truly love. I started to realize that what I really loved was technology, startups, and in general projects that required strategy building. I began remembering why I came to law school and what I wanted to eventually do with my legal career.
Talk to as many attorneys as you can
Talking to your professors is a great tool and they really can help you find great jobs and teach you so much. However, most of them only worked in firms for a few years and then went to academia. Speaking to lawyers that do the jobs you want to do someday is the best way to know if you actually want to do those jobs.
I found that the best way to reach these lawyers was to go on LinkedIn and look for alumni who have jobs you may like. You would be surprised by how much lawyers like to talk about themselves. 🙂 Of course, if you are looking for a fellow law nerd who will be working in technology leave me a comment and I would be happy to talk to you about my strategy and experience.
Besides finding something you love again, this also gives you something more to talk about during interviews. When I started telling interviewers all about my love for technology and how I thought it would impact the legal field, it set me apart. I instantly became that girl. The girl that found something she loves, in the midst of a bunch of law students that have absolutely no clue what they want to do.
In fact, I’ll share with you a little story: There is a student at the top of one of the classes at the law school who thought that just because he had good grades, that was enough. Anyways, an interviewer asked him why he should hire him and his answer was because I have good grades. The interviewer said… and? Needless to say, this particular student was very humbled that day and the way he approached interviews dramatically changed. Finding a “niche” will not be the end all be all, it is just a way to keep yourself sane and give yourself some direction. It is also a way to remember why you went to law school. For me, this changed everything because I started enjoying law school again, rather than dreading everything about it.