This year’s law school application cycle is in full swing, and as students move from law school application mode to 1L prep mode, we always get a flood of questions regarding the transition into law school.
Our previous posts on the best books to prepare for law school and our list of recommended reading for the summer before law school were a hit, so this year we’re going to dive deeper into more topics on how to prepare for law school.
Today, I take a look at one of the questions that I’m asked most frequently:
Do I Need Know What Area of Law I Want to Go Into Before Starting Law School?
The short answer: No.
It is very rare for a first year law student to know precisely what area of law that they will commit to during their career.
In my experience, most 1Ls have only a vague notion of what practice areas might interest them… much less any real concept of what the day-to-day life of an associate in that practice area looks like.
It is best to keep your mind (as well as your options) open as you proceed through law school and internships.
You really don’t get much (if any) exposure to various practice areas during 1L year as you’re laying the foundation with the standard 1L schedule of criminal, contracts, torts, property, civil procedure, constitutional law courses.
So, while you don’t need to know what type of law that you want to practice, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to begin developing a basic understanding of the areas of law that you’ll encounter 1L year.
For a great introduction to the basics, I recommend checking out Law 101: Everything You Need to Know About American Law. This book covers the basics & gives you a great primer on stuff you’ll be learning in much more depth 1L year. CLICK HERE for Current Pricing & Reviews.
It isn’t until 2L and 3L year that you really get an opportunity to explore more specialized areas.
If you go into an interview after 1L year and say something like “I want to work in M&A,” then you’d better be able to back that claim up with sufficient experience and/or education in that area or you may run the risk of appearing to be a bit naive.
It may be better to simply say “I’m very interested in learning more about the various aspects of corporate law.”
Of course, there are always the rare cases where a student went to law school specifically because they want to work in a particular area of law that is of great personal importance to them.
For example, I knew one student who grew up in foster care and was eventually adopted by a wonderful family. He knew he wanted to spend his career helping families navigate the laws of adoption and help place children in loving homes. His passion was squarely in family law and adoption law from the beginning, and he followed that passion through law school and into his career.
However, this sort of story is the exception, not the rule, and 1Ls shouldn’t feel compelled to pick which area of law that they’ll be spending the next 30+ years of their life practicing in. Your best bet is to keep your head down, focus on your coursework, get good grades, and land a prestigious summer internship that will give them exposure to a variety of interesting and challenging work.
- Law 101: Everything You Need to Know About American Law
- Best Books for Pre-law Students – Summer Reading Before You Start Law School
- Best Books to Prepare for Law School
- 5 Things To Do To Start Law School Right
- How to Be Successful In Law School 1L Year – Tips & Advice from a Top 10% Cornell 1L
- What are Law School Exams Like?