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Learning more about legal careers

These pages outline only the very barest of information about legal careers.  There are three basic ways to find out more, listed here in declining order of helpfulness:work in one or more law offices, talk to practicing attorneys, and read more detailed descriptions of legal careers. Remember, this...

Internships

Internships—paid, for credit, or entirely volunteer—are the best way to get experience in a legal field before making the big decision about whether law school is the right path to the career you want to pursue. The answer to the question, “Should I do an internship?” is always,...

Is law school a good investment?

Given the long term financial ramifications, it is imperative that you ask yourself this question. There is no universal answer—only you can decide whether, given a number of factors, law school represents a good investment for you. Among the factors to consider are the following: Why do you want...

What legal careers are available?

Presumably, you’re thinking about law school because some aspect of the law interests you. But there are so many different types of law – different fields (or “practice areas”), different types of law office (“practice settings”) – that it’s sometimes hard to get a handle on what your options might...

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...

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