When I got to law school, I knew that I wanted to become the kind of lawyer that works towards social justice. But I had no idea how to get there. In my first semester I found inspiration from my in-class conversations and from events at my school, but then, all of a sudden, it was time to begin thinking about 1L summer internships.
Being a type-A person who likes to plan long-term, I began to get anxious about my career. What was I going to do for my 1L summer? And what would that mean for the rest of my career as a lawyer? Did I have to intern in the same field that I intended to ultimately work in? But I don’t really know what any of these jobs are like, how can I start my career feeling this ignorant? Do I have to clerk to be a litigator? What if my first post-law school job is in public interest, will I ever be able to try BigLaw? How does anyone decide what to do for the rest of their career after only a few months of law school?!
All of these questions began swirling in my mind around October of my first semester, and have only now slowly began to subside that I’m in my second year of law school. The one thing that helped me regain my sense of calm was learning just how many ways one can be a lawyer. I started asking every lawyer I met about their career pathways, and I started to see that no matter where I began, there would be time to find out who I would be as a lawyer. Not only was there enough time, but there were so many ways to get to the lawyer I see myself being. Seeing various paths has helped me immensely as I begin to shape my own path.
If you’re like me, I am glad you’re here to see the variety of paths you can take! And for those who have no idea what kind of lawyer they want to be, the takeaway is: use your time as a law student to try new things, and be open to new experiences as they come your way. You never know what’s coming next in your legal career, but as long as you’re a lawyer, there will be meaningful work for you to do.
I hope in this article you find some inspiration from a variety of lawyers who have survived law school and are well into their direct or winding career paths.