Many people are drawn to practice law for different reasons. Unbeknownst to some, the legal field encompasses a variety of legal specialties. From criminal and administrative law to criminal law, case law, and contract law, there’s no real limit on what type of law a law student can specialize in. This is because the law is a big part of what shapes our cultures and societies. Whether you’re considering law school and aren’t sure what type of law you hope to practice, or you’re just curious, read on to learn more about four specific types of law and why a law student might prefer one specialty over another.
1. Public Policy and Service Law
Often called administrative law, public service or policy law is a legal specialty for people who are passionate about making major policy changes in the government. For someone like Malliha Wilson, an assistant deputy attorney general in Canada, this type of law offers the ability to make legal governmental precedent and to advocate for equality and human rights in the Ontario government.
Someone passionate about human rights, civil liberties, or overall public policy would be a great fit for administrative law as the complex litigation administrative attorneys work with generally means big changes for the countries they live in. A natural human rights advocate, someone with a special interest in social justice, or a person with a background in social work would likely enjoy a job in administrative or public policy law.
2. Personal Injury Law
For a law student with a special interest in the insurance or medical industries, personal injury law could be a great fit. Personal injury attorneys work to get injured people money to compensate for someone else’s negligence. These highly skilled attorneys handle wrongful death cases, birth injury cases, and sometimes malpractice law. While most of their work is through settlements and insurance companies or attorneys, personal injury lawyers do appear in court for trial when settlements can’t be reached around their client’s personal injuries and fair compensation for pain and suffering.
Someone who enjoys research might do well in personal injury law. This is because an attorney must perform a medical investigation as part of bringing to court a personal injury claim. If you’re good at making sense of paperwork and are inclined to understand medical terminology, personal injury law could be a great specialty for you.
3. Family Law
Anyone passionate about making a difference might want to consider family law. For some lawyers, this means divorce court and helping couples to come up with custody arrangements, child support, and the division of assets. For others, though, family law means helping abused children and working with Guardian Ad Litems to make decisions in a child’s best interest.
Maybe you have a background in psychology, social work, or even personal experience with the foster care system. In the United States, a law student with this experience would work out well as an attorney to work in a child’s best interest or in a role as a state family court attorney to make life-changing decisions on custody and families.
4. Criminal Defense Law
If justice and the right to a fair trial are the things you value most, becoming a criminal defense lawyer would be a great position for you. Anyone with a special interest in criminal justice or who has experience working in law enforcement would do well in the role of a criminal defense attorney. These lawyers work to represent clients in court under the presumption of innocence over guilt in the United States.
At the end of the day, no one can pick your practice specialty or area of interest for you. By considering your personal values, interests, and life experiences, you’ll likely realize quickly what type of law you hope to practice and maybe before even applying to law school.