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Different fields of law...

br9172br9172 Registered User Posts: 85 Junior Member
edited March 2009 in Law School
I'm a senior in HS and still don't know what career I want to pursue. Going to Law School is one option I'm considering. I don't want to be a trial lawyer, though, I know that much. I don't think I'm assertive enough for that. But the only other alternative that I know of is Corporate Law, which, from what I have read about, sounds more like me, but not so interesting. What are your opinions about corporate law? I've read plenty about it, but still can't tell what it is like overall or if it is at all fulfilling. And what do you think are other promising fields of law? Thank you.
Post edited by br9172 on

Replies to: Different fields of law...

  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Registered User Posts: 1,185 Senior Member
    why are you even considering law school if you are not sure what you would want to do as a lawyer?
    even outside of the courtroom, lawyers tend to be a fairly assertive group of people. so even if the "type of law" doesn't call upon you to be particularly assertive, you are likely to have to be dealing with very assertive people, which can be difficult if you are not assertive yourself.

    you are still in hs. you have all of college ahead of you to decide what you want to do. there are probably fields out there that you've never even thought about that may appeal to you. law school is an easy one to think about because so many people focus on going to law school from early on in their academic career. take the next four years to explore what interests you. there is no need to decide to be "pre-law" this early in your academic career.
  • ariesathenaariesathena Registered User Posts: 5,087 Senior Member
    Concurring in part and dissenting in part...

    Many of my law school classmates don't know what type of law they want to practice, and that's pretty normal. There are a zillion fields out there, and, IMO, not having one decided by age 18 is no reason to NOT consider law school. Not knowing exactly which one you want to practice is not a reason to avoid law school after graduation, either. I was one of the few who knew going in what type of law I want... a few of my classmates were the same way (most of us want patent law).

    I know people (and I was one of them!) who never considered law school at all during undergrad, so we didn't focus on getting high GPAs. Worked hard, yes, but believed that a few low grades would never matter. If you are considering law school, be sure to maintain good grades.

    I really agree with the advice to consider other fields. Too many people think that their career options are law, medicine, and investment banking. Too many people think that they can't do much with a history degree, so they have to go to law school.
  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Registered User Posts: 1,185 Senior Member
    i agree there is no need to know at the outset what type of law one wants to practice. but i think one stands a much better chance of being happy with the career choice of law, if one has a better understanding ahead of time as to what the practice of law really entails.

    the only info the op provided is that they aren't assertive enough for trial work and dont think corporate law sounds interesting. this seems to beg the question - well then what about going to law school is appealling so that the op can be advised as to whether there is likely to be a field of law that will suit their interests.

    many bright articulate students are steered towards the ultimate goal of law school early in life because other options are not as visible. i think such students would be better served by a more critical look at the issue of "why law school" before they head down that path.

    to the op - i am not trying to be critical of you - you have come here asking for more information and for that you are to be commended. but perhaps if you explained what has even started you on the exploration of the career of law, rather than just opening the broad issue as to what "promising fields of law" exist, it might make it easier for others to advise you. what constitutes a "promising field" depends entirely on what it is you are looking for.
  • br9172br9172 Registered User Posts: 85 Junior Member
    Thanks for responding guys. Ariesathena, I might be one of those that doesn't "think that they can't do much with a history degree, so they have to go to law school." I would love to major in history, and I think law school is a reasonable option after getting a history degree. I feel like it is either that, or a teacher. I was in a Mock Trial class last year, and am in it again this year, and after taking the class I knew that I would like to study law and would probably enjoy law school. But I didn't like the anxiety I felt when I had to present my case in court, so that is why I decided I probably wouldn't like trial law.
    I know I don't have to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life at 18, but I really don't want to go to college to like find myself. I need to have a plan for everything. I know I might change my mind once I get into college, but I at least want to go in with an idea. Also, knowing what career I want to pursue will help me decide what colleges I will apply to and help narrow down my way-too-long list.
    But I didn't know that a lot of people don't know what field of law they want to get into while they are in law school. I guess that's one thing I don't have to stress about too much right now. But I think finding a field that I would like would also help me decide if I do want to be a lawyer. I know I'll probably enjoy law school, but I still don't know if I'll enjoy actually being a lawyer.
  • dadofsamdadofsam Registered User Posts: 1,635 Senior Member
    br9172: Litigation/trial lawyers, especially criminal trial lawyers, are about the only field of law that most people your age are acquainted with, since most other fields of law lack the drama to be the subject of television shows, movies or plays. However, most lawyers don't work in those fields.

    "Corporate law" is a name generally given to working for large companies, either as an attorney employed by a large company, or in a law firm working for large company clients. It has many sub-areas.
    Practically all fields of law have no connection to subjects taught in college, although in a number of areas of law material learned in college can be useful at least as background knowledge.

    Some fields of law are family law (marriages, divorces, adoptions, etc.), bankruptcy law, real estate law, general business or contract law, environmental law, medical and other malpractice law, public health law, administrative law (law involving government agencies and how to deal with them), maritime law, space law, insurance law, estate planning (wills, for instance) - and there are others.

    Nowadays, to be an effective lawyer of practically any type, you must be able to assess and analyze a situation and, using your knowledge of that field of law, plus any other useful knowledge you may have, figure out solutions to problems that your clients have. Usually you also have to be able to relate to people, or they won't be interested in hiring or keeping you as their lawyer. If that is the sort of work that appeals to you - for example, as opposed to teaching, being a doctor, handling finncial matters - then consider it, but later.
  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Registered User Posts: 1,185 Senior Member
    "I was in a Mock Trial class last year, and am in it again this year, and after taking the class I knew that I would like to study law and would probably enjoy law school. But I didn't like the anxiety I felt when I had to present my case in court, so that is why I decided I probably wouldn't like trial law."

    br9172- I find this explanation very telling and would offer the following for you to think about.

    Preparing a case for mock trial can be incredibly interesting and exciting. The study of law can be fascinating - the arguments, the thought processes -- can be very intellectually exciting and challenging. However, this is not necessarily representative of the actual practice of law.

    The actual practice of law involves a lot of mundane procedures and documents. It involves dealing with clients who are not always reasonable. It involves dealing with senior attorneys who direct your life (for how long depends on the type of practice you enter). It involves dealing with billing. It involves deadlines. It involves dealing with other attorneys - sometimes in adverserial situations, sometimes not - and many of these other lawyers will be people who thrive on confrontation, argument, and strong opinions.

    What you found least appealling - the anxiety - may the aspect that is most typical of the practice of law. There is a lot of pressure. Whether it is imposed from the client, the partner, the court, the government agency, whatever, there is a lot of pressure. People who do well in the practice of law are often those who find that pressure invigorating, who see is as a challenge and thrive on it.

    So since you have raised issues about your assertiveness and your anxiety level, I would strongly caution you to really know what you would be getting in to before you decide on law school. Talk to as many lawyers as you can. Don't just ask if they like being lawyers, but ask them what they like and don't like so you can see if it is the type of thing you would like or dislike.

    I write this as someone who "knew" I wanted to go to law school in HS, went through college with that in mind, went to a top law school, loved the study of law -- and then ended up absolutely hating the practice of law.
  • br9172br9172 Registered User Posts: 85 Junior Member
    Thanks for the input! I will definately look into the fields of law you mentioned dadofsam. And unbeliavablem, that is exactly what I am afraid of. I don't want to go through law school and ultimately end up hating my job. I'll really have to think about it.
  • ariesathenaariesathena Registered User Posts: 5,087 Senior Member
    While I always caution everyone to be very careful before going to law school...

    Do not discount the fact that you will grow up and change. College will do a lot to you... and, IMO, very few 18-year-olds are well-suited to any professional practice. From my perspective - I certainly changed a lot during college - I would sometimes speak up in high school, sometimes assert myself - but that's now a common occurrence for me.

    My crim professor was very direct, very strong, very assertive - does capital defense - and he had a speaker come in who also does capital defense (to talk about the law school clinic). The other guy is shy, quiet, very reserved, but very good at what he does. As my crim prof. said, "It takes all types." The lawyers can chime in... but my guess is that they know reserved types who are excellent lawyers and they know very assertive, in-your-face types who are excellent lawyers. (Now, lack of confidence or intelligence is a different story.)

    Would love for the lawyers on the board to chime in. :)
  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Registered User Posts: 1,185 Senior Member
    A few weeks ago on the parents forum there was a thread that basically asked if lawyers would want their kids to go into law. there were a lot of postings from people such as me who had left the practice of law, but also many posts from people who were happy in the practiced of law. Different types of practices were discussed and their pros and cons. Here is the link to that thread.


    what you should bear in mind when reading this is not the absolute question of whether being a lawyer is "good or bad" since there is no such conclusion. what you should look at is WHY those who were unhappy were unhappy and WHY those who were happy were happy -- and then draw your own conclusions as to what you would need to know to decide whether or not the practice of would be for you.

    and again - remember -- this is not a decision that needs to be made now (while you are still in hs) nor even four years from now when you are . (presumably) a senior in college. many people go to law school and end up deciding its not for them. and then again, many people do other things after college and then up deciding that they do want law school a year or sometimes several years later. just try to make sure that the decision, whenever you are making it, is an informed one.
  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Registered User Posts: 1,185 Senior Member
    "The other guy is shy, quiet, very reserved, but very good at what he does."

    I have been thinking a lot about this since first reading this description which was presented as a contrast to someone else who was "assertive." I think the issue is how you are defining assertive - nothing in the above description would lead me to conclude this person was not assertive.

    Being an assertive lawyer does not mean being aggressive, bold, stridant, or even overtly forceful. Being assertive in the way I think a lawyer must be assertive, means being able to stick to and pursue your position in the face of those who differ -- and those may be adversaries, but they may also be senior partners or clients who simply wish for a different conclusion. And it means knowing when to push ones position while still being open to consider other meritorious positions.

    While I practiced law, I worked a two different firms. I worked with attornerys involved in administrative law, corportate law, tax law, litigation, labor law, education law. I worked with lawyers who yelled, I worked with lawyers who used humor to advance their position, I worked with lawyers who remained so calm you'd be tempted to check their pulse. But I can't think of any of the lawyers who were successful who weren't assertive. The unassertive ones I can think of are the associates who didn't make it.

    You can be a nice calm quiet person and still be assertive. (In fact, those are often the type who drive their adversaries the craziest! :) )
  • br9172br9172 Registered User Posts: 85 Junior Member
    Thanks again for the input guys. And for that link to the parent's forum. I see that I'll have to think about whether my personality is one that can help me be a successful lawyer.. well, the same goes for all the other careers i am considering i guess. But i see what you're saying unbelievablem. Being quiet and shy does not necessarily mean you are not assertive. I'm not sure which one I'm more of... But anyway, thanks again =)
  • bostonlegalchicbostonlegalchic Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    Hi there! I'm new to this site. I'm 17 and still in high school-- I was wondering would anyone have and type of info on the different fields of law?

    Thanks for the help!!

  • dsagerdsager Registered User Posts: 1 New Member

    I'm new. I am about to graduate and receive my bachelor's degree. I start my master's degree in January. However, I have seriously been considering law school for about two years now (ever since I took mass comm law), and I want to go after graduate school. However, there are a few things that concern me.

    The main concern I have to think about is the student loan debt. My husband owes about 100k from undergraduate and med school, and I'll be at about 45,000 after my masters degree. Going to law school (if I don't get a scholarship) would add another 60k. From a financial standpoint I worry that I won't make enough money as a new associate to take on the financial aid debt (even including my husband's salary- he's still a resident). I want to make sure that going to law school and spending that much money will pay itself back through salary as a starting associate.

    I'm also worried that there may not be scholarships out there to pay for at least half of law school, which is what I am praying for.

    I just wanted to get some advise from some legal eagle's to see what y'all think.

    Thank you,
  • shaianshaian Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Hello dears
    I am new in this site. I graduated from Law School of Kabul University. I will progrss my studies to obtain a LLM degree in US next year falls semester. International Corporate Law looked good for me, but now I think if I could study other subjects. The reason is that I am not confident of the stability in my country Afghanistan for the next years. What do you think, which field should i choose to study? I like a field which is not focused on US law, but a field which can be used outside US like Afghanistan.
    Thanks Friends
  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike Registered User Posts: 11,964 Senior Member
    dsager: the difficulty is that unless you're planning on being a REALLY stellar candidate (175+), scholarship money and first year associate salaries are really going to trade off, since low-ranked schools have harder time placing students into such firms but higher ranked schools find that they don't really have to use scholarship money to lure students.

    Generally the rule of thumb is that if you want a pretty solid shot at a high-paying job straight out of law school, you should be thinking about the top 14 schools in the country.

    How certain do you feel about law school? Is there any chance you can skip the master's, spend that year working, and not incur any extra debt while saving up a little bit of money?

    An extra $60K sounds rather optimistic.

    * * * *

    High-paying Big Law jobs are brutal. I can't imagine trying to deal with one of those while a spouse is in a medical residency.
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