The legal field is very diverse and there are different and wide-ranging subjects. In the first year of law school, we barely have any law subjects and our law subjects increase as we reach our third and fourth year. As I got into the second/third year of law school I was confused as to how to decide on electives, internships and publications as the subjects that I had studied were rather limited. It is imperative to determine your preferred field of law and then to determine whether the practice area you are going for is a long term bet or not. Selecting a practice area is very important as that will determine your career trajectory. The following factors help in determining your interest-
An internship is the best way to get some sort of experience and to know what it is like working in that field. It puts the knowledge that you have acquired over semesters to use. It is necessary to determine where your interests lie, because if you can determine your talents the road ahead is simpler. Internships provide the necessary practical knowledge and help in expanding your skillset. It is ideal to work in corporate, litigation, NGO, start-ups and under judges to determine where your interests lie.
Court internships include internships at various courts such as the District Court, High Court or Supreme Court. Usually, you work under a lawyer and through this you get adequate exposure to learn about the judicial process and this will help you decide whether you prefer litigation or not. Working in a Litigation Firm or interning with a judge will help you in the construction of arguments, understanding court functionality and will give you a sense of justice.
Corporate law has various subsets such as tax law, company law, contract law, competition law, IPR, M&A etc. However, corporate law internships can be very challenging. However, it will help you decide whether you want a corporate job or not.
Further, you can try interning in an in-house corporate firm. The in-house role is available in corporations and various big MNCs. Apart from this, you can try to intern under various government departments. A number of government departments offer interesting internships such as the Competition Commission of India or the Ministry of Corporate Affairs etc. There are no strict rules with regard to the duration of the internships as it varies from institution to institution.
I personally developed an interest and decided to pursue corporate law after I studied Company Law. Reviewing contracts, finding loopholes in the law pushed me towards corporate law. I truly believe that studying the law develops your interest but to decide which area to get into it is necessary to intern in different firms. Internships can also be very useful for making contacts that might help you get a job in the future.
After studying basic law subjects, it is necessary to experiment with different electives to determine where your interest lies. As until you study the subject, you will not be able to determine whether you want to pursue that field or not.
It is necessary to choose electives that you have a genuine interest in, rather than going for those electives which are easy to score in. This will help in determining which areas of law you actually enjoy. Before deciding on an elective, talking to a few people who have taken the course and going through the course manual will aid you in making an informed decision.
Electives in law school are very critical as they help in furthering your skills. Colleges such as Jindal Global Law School, offer various clinic courses that helps in providing practical experience along-side the regular teaching.
Further, employers might prefer students who show interest in one particular field of law. This can be determined by the internships or the electives you take in law school. When you focus on a particular field in law and you study those particular subjects, it shows that you have your act together and are focused and interested in that particular field of law. In today’s world of specialization, it is difficult for lawyers to change their practice area.
Another way to determine your field of interest is by mooting or by taking part in arbitration competitions. Even though it might be a little intimidating, it helps in public speaking. Furthermore, a law student can work for Legal Aid Clinics where you will be involved in drafting work.
Publications are necessary as it shows your ability to draft legal arguments. These research papers can be published on legal blogs or journals. A lot of journals invite students to publish their research papers. Such activities help in improving your research skills and writing skills.
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One can also be a part of a number of societies in college such as the Human Rights Society or the Social Service Society. Being a part of such societies will expand your horizons and will help you in tackling legal issues.
Law School can get hectic and a bit intimidating, but there are so many ways you can expand your horizons. One can experiment with different fields to determine the area in which your interest lies. There are many opportunities in law school and it is imperative to capitalise on them. In the process you will not only learn but will make your C.V standout. Therefore, it is necessary to experiment with different subjects and to intern in different areas to determine where your interest actually lies.