Posted: January 20th, 2016
Guest Blog by Ashli Irene Weiss from Ms.JD.com
Specializing while in law school is a valuable tool. As a law student, I specialized in intellectual property and focused on trademark law. My specialization helped me land amazing intellectual property career opportunities within a field of law I enjoy and that my peers are equally as passionate about. I wrote this article to share the benefits I learned that come with a specialization, to quell the fear that many students have of specializing while in law school and to provide advice on how to choose a specialization.
A legal specialization can be work experience in a job interview. “Why do you want this job,” is a question I received at every job interview. As a new graduate, I always incorporated my specialization. A specialization requires certain courses to help prepare a student to practice in a specific type of law. I wrote articles on intellectual property, completed projects that simulated attorney work product and discussed new issues in IP with my peers in class. This translated to my potential employer as experience, because it aligned with some of the job qualifications required for the position. Similarly, a new graduate can use their specialization to demonstrate experience. This may help the new graduate stand out from other applicants who also have limited work experience, but no specialization.
Specializing shows to potential employers that you have a passion. As an interviewer for an intellectual property job position, I favored those applicants that showed a passion for IP. In general, a passionate employee is dedicated to completing the task at hand, more pleasurable to work with and tends to have innovative ideas in that area of law. A specialization is a straightforward way to show an employer that you have a passion towards a particular field of law. It signals that you wanted to take specific courses in law school to prepare you for a specific career. It suggests that the employer can speak with you about breaking issues in the law, because you keep up-to-date on the news in that area. An employer may also be more confident that you will put in the hours required to solve the issue and have a better work product.
A legal specialization helps create new contacts. In law school, I reached out to IP lawyers via email and introduced myself to IP lawyers at events I attended. Under these circumstances, I always mentioned my specialization in IP. My specialization was something that could relate with the IP lawyer. People connect more willingly with one another if it is based upon a similarity. Conversation between the two people flows more easily, because they can exchange thoughts and new ideas on a common interest. If you practice in the same field of law, there is also a likelihood that the lawyer will run into you in the near future. With a chance of crossing paths again, a lawyer may be more willing to help so they can maintain their reputation.
Read more on other ways specialization in law school can benefit your career.