When it comes to choosing a career path, college students have more flexibility than those entering law school.


Liberal arts colleges in the U.S. prioritize and encourage intellectual curiosity and versatility, allowing students to explore a wide range of courses and change their majors if needed.

This freedom to experiment and cross-fertilize different disciplines is a valuable aspect of undergraduate education. On the other hand, law school is a professional school that requires a more focused and structured approach.


The first-year curriculum is mostly fixed, and students have limited options to take classes outside of their required courses. While there is still room for exploration and flexibility in law school, it’s not as extensive as at the undergraduate level.

How to Choose a Law School Specialization

Therefore, it’s essential for prospective law students to have an idea of their career interests and goals. This will help them make informed decisions about their course selections and future job prospects.


Expressing clear career goals, even if they are broad or subject to change, can also demonstrate a candidate’s commitment to law school. However, not all applicants have a clear sense of what they want to do with their law degree.

Some may have prior experience in the legal field, while others may not be aware of the various legal specializations beyond what is commonly portrayed in media.

It’s important for these students to research and explore the different career paths available in law to make an informed decision about their future.

Law school applicants seeking to choose a legal career path can consider these four tips:

  • Look beyond legal topics.
  • Try out different courses.
  • Stay open-minded.
  • Explore extracurricular activities.

Look Beyond Legal Topics

It can be tempting to think of legal specializations in terms of their topical focus, such as environmental law, labor law or constitutional law. However, it is more important to consider the lifestyle differences across various legal fields. 

For instance, each legal specialty has its own routine tasks and challenges. A criminal lawyer may have to think quickly and handle an unpredictable schedule. A family lawyer might have to deal with emotionally difficult conflicts. A torts lawyer may have to be comfortable with detailed regulations and cases that stretch on for years with uncertain payoffs. 


To choose the right legal specialization, it is advisable to think about the conditions that you thrive in and the challenges that you find rewarding. This approach may lead you to a specialization that is more suitable for you than simply focusing on the areas of law that you find intellectually interesting.

Try Out Different Courses

There are a variety of undergraduate classes that can prepare you well for law school, ranging from philosophy to statistics. Even if your college doesn’t have a legal studies program, you may still be able to explore legal subjects such as constitutional law, criminal justice, or health law.

Upon starting your first year of law school, you will be introduced to civil procedure, contracts, constitutional law, criminal law, property, torts, and legal research and writing. During your second and third years, you can choose more specialized electives that will help you focus your career, such as administrative law and Native American law.

Exploring new areas could lead you to discover hidden career opportunities. For instance, if you’re interested in environmental law, you might uncover related career paths through energy law or land use law.

Stay Open-Minded

College classes can have intriguing names that spark curiosity. For example, during my college days, I enjoyed taking a popular political science course called “The Mafia, the State, and Organized Crime.” Attending this class felt like an adventure into the underworlds straight out of Hollywood crime thrillers.

On the other hand, law classes often have unexciting, generic names such as tax law, appellate law, corporate law, regulations, and local government law. But, don’t be fooled by their dull titles as these classes can involve fascinating controversies with significant impacts on people’s lives.

Explore Extracurricular Activities

Engaging in real-world volunteer experiences is one of the best ways to learn about the different legal specialties. Joining campus clubs, participating in student publications, and other public interest opportunities can give you an inside view of the various ways to get involved with the justice system and current legal issues. 

Participating in activities is also a great way to build relationships with potential career role models. When you work with or help lawyers, or even just observe them in action, it becomes much easier to reach out to them in the future.

It’s important to remember that no career is set in stone. Many law school graduates evolve throughout their careers. However, thinking ahead of time about legal specialization can help you communicate your interests to admissions officers and ensure that your time in law school is well spent.