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Thinking about law school

Why are you thinking about law school?  The most common reasons I hear are some variation of the following: I like to argue. I took Constitutional Law/Legal 250/Civil Liberties/etc. and it was mind-blowing. Law is so fascinating. I want a reliable, interesting job. I want to make...

Academia

Almost all professors in law schools have a law degree.  Traditionally, this was the only academic credential necessary for teaching in law schools, but in the last decade or so, a growing percentage of law professors have PhDs in addition to or instead of JDs—about 25% of professors at...

Deciding where to attend

The law schools have made their decisions; now it’s up to you to decide which offer of admission to accept. How do you decide between the prestigious school that offered you no scholarship, and the somewhat less prestigious one that offered you a free ride?  Or between the...

Networking

What is networking?  In essence, it’s being friendly with a purpose.  If that sounds crass to you, then, to be blunt, you might want to rethink a career that is based largely on building and maintaining strategic professional relationships. Lawyers can’t adequately represent their clients or...

Legal fields and practice areas

A field or “practice area” of law refers to legal practice relevant to a particular type of law, or, more commonly, a particular industry or business.  Most law relates to business, with a handful of exceptions.  The largest exception is criminal law – the body of law relating to...

Resources for researching legal careers

There are a number of published resources for finding out more about different legal careers—so many that it would be impossible to list them all.  But here are a few that we’ve found especially helpful: Online resources NALP: The National Association of Legal Career Professionals NALP is...

Transactional practice vs. litigation

Some lawyers help bring people together, other help break them apart – that’s the best way to describe the difference between these two largest classes of lawyers.  Transactional practice involves researching, preparing and reviewing the documents that bring individuals and companies together: from contracts for large corporate mergers and...

Private practice vs. public service/public interest

Another distinction among lawyers is between those who work in private firms and/or for companies, and those who work for government or in non-profit work.  The first type is generally referred to as “private practice” while the second is called “public interest” (or, occasionally, “public service”).  Attorneys...

Lawyer-Alumni and Pre-Law Network

A great many UMass Amherst students considering legal careers don’t know any lawyers personally—none in the family, no family friends, really no one to connect with in the field in order to learn more about the profession.  A great many lawyers who are alumni of UMass Amherst...

Firm size: From solo to BigLaw

A lot of attention in the mainstream media (and popular culture) gets focused on lawyers working in large firms (often referred to as “BigLaw”).  But only about 10% of law grads—roughly 4,000 out of the 40,000 who graduated law school in 2015—enter jobs in the very large law firms (those with 500...

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