Finding Your Practice Area

Have you ever felt like everyone else knows exactly what they want to do career wise and you are the only one who doesn’t have it all figured out? Avoid panic; you’re definitely not the only one who doesn’t have a clue, and that’s okay!

I have always been someone who was interested in so many subjects, careers, and areas of law that is too hard for me to choose exactly what I want to do. If you find yourself in a similar situation, my advice is to try as many different classes, internships, and other experiences as possible so you can begin to eliminate what you DON’T want to do.

I went into undergrad as an undeclared student. It took me over a year and a half to finally declare my major and I narrowed down my choices by trying out classes in different subject areas, talking to professors about their careers and interests, and testing several campus jobs and internships. I eventually landed on political science as my major and later decided to apply to law schools. Once I started at Widener, I found myself facing the same problem that I had faced in undergrad. I had no idea what type of law I wanted to practice after graduation.

It was frustrating at first because it seemed like every other student I spoke with knew exactly what they wanted; for example, that they wanted to be a criminal defense attorney or that they wanted to be a family law attorney and specialize in divorce. It seemed like I was one of only a few students who didn’t have anything figured out and it was overwhelming. To narrow my choices, I first visited with Widener’s Dean of Career Development who was able to help me realize that there were quite a few areas of the law that I already knew weren’t the right fit for me. For example, I had interned with a small private family law firm after graduation from undergrad and that experience helped me determine that family law isn’t a fit for me, but it also helped me realize that perhaps transactional work would suit me best. I also had an internship with a local county collections department and that experience helped me determine that I wasn’t interested in criminal law. Once I realized what I didn’t want to do, I focused on finding an internship for 1L summer that would expose me to something completely new, so I could determine if it may be a fit for me.

During the summer of 2022 I interned with the Office of General Counsel: Department of Environmental Protection. From this experience I learned that government work is really interesting to me and that may be something I want to pursue in the future, and at the same time I learned that environmental law is also not my strong suit.

The moral of my story is to try as many things as possible if you aren’t sure where you want to end up. Every experience I’ve had has been extremely valuable to me, even if after that experience I decided that that job was totally wrong for me. It is sometimes better to determine what you don’t like before you settle on a career path. If you ever feel lost or overwhelmed about finding an internship/externship that will be beneficial to you, reach out to professors and the staff at Widener to help you narrow your choices.  It’s OKAY to not know what you’re doing! You’ll find the perfect fit eventually!

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