Q: I am a student earning an associate's degree in paralegal studies. I'm almost to the end of my studies and I still don't know what area of law I want to work in. My question is: how can I narrow down my decision to the area that would afford me the most satisfaction? After all, I have spent a lot of money to earn this education and I don't want to get stuck in an area where I hate going to work every day and at the same time I need to work to pay off the loans. Also I have never worked in an area of law before, so I don't know what's really expected of me during an interview. My next question would be, how can I be sure that I get the job that I am trained to perform, although I have no experience? Please give me some suggestions!
A: The only way to narrow down the areas of law that might be of greatest interest to you is to get more familiar with the different options. This can seem overwhelming as there are many areas to consider.
At this very site, you can identify over 45 different areas of legal practice from Agriculture Law to Transportation Law. To gather additional information on these areas you should visit the American Bar Association site. There are also many books devoted to explaining the different areas of legal practice. Some provide a broad overview, while others provide a more detailed description of the duties and skills within a particular area of law.
Once you've reviewed the website and other information related to law practice areas you'll need to match that up with what you know about yourself. What interests do you have? How do those interests relate to different fields of law? What's sounding more interesting to you at this point?
Next, you'll want to get out and meet law professionals in the areas of greatest interest to you. This information interviewing/networking approach has two purposes:
- It will help you get your questions answered as your research will no doubt generate additional questions that you'll want answers to.
- You'll begin to build your professional network which has many benefits not the least of which could be a lead to your next job.
When you're ready to job search you can let those in your network know. It's like enlisting an army of helpers. Why go it alone?
As far as your concerns regarding the interview process and getting appropriate employment here are a couple of suggestions:
- What career planning and/or placement services are available at the school you attend? Or even at a local community college? Most likely you'll be able to get coaching on the interview and job search process which will help ensure that you're seeking appropriate employment opportunities for yourself.
- The informational interviewing/networking approach outlined above is not only the most effective job search method but also one that will put you face to face with employers who can help answer your job search concerns and offer meaningful feedback to you.
This article courtesy of BCG Search.