Monthly Archives: July 2017

5 Tips on Choosing a Law School Course

Getting accepted into law school and selecting the right program is just the start of the journey toward a law degree. An essential early step along the way? Choosing the right law school classes. Because perusing the course catalog can leave your head spinning, we’ve rounded up five steps aimed at helping you construct the perfect plan toward achieving your unique academic and professional goals.

1. Understand the Progression

Most law schools follow a basic curriculum over the course of the program. In the first year, you will likely be required to take core classes aimed at instilling a solid understanding of foundational legal principles and processes.

As you progress through law school, you will also have the opportunity to choose electives. How you use these electives is largely up to you. Some students designate electives toward gaining a deeper understanding of the law while others opt to explore potential areas of interest. Either way, this freedom is also a responsibility: The more you know about the process, the more empowered you’ll be to design a coherent academic program.

2. Consult Your Graduation Requirements

Familiarizing yourself with what courses you’re expected to take and when is a critical part of ensuring that you will meet all courses required for graduation and bar privileges. You don’t have to do this alone: In addition to your student handbook and online resources, your law school’s registrar and/or office of academic affairs offer invaluable partnership when it comes to making sure you’re on the right track.

Fulfilling your graduation requirements can be more challenging than it seems as many courses require prerequisites, while others may only be offered occasionally and therefore are at risk of maxing out in enrollment. The more proactive you are in planning your program, the more likely you are to secure the courses you need.

Planning on a clerkship or externship, meanwhile? These highly sought-after jobs may require certain coursework, such as Evidence, so make sure to have these on your transcript before applying.

3. Check Out the Professors

Taking the time to identify high-quality, engaging, and accessible professors can also mean the difference between fun and frustration. In fact, most law students agree that a good (or bad) professor can make or break your performance in a particular course, which in turn can either be a boon or a bust on your transcript.

How do you know which professors measure up? Your fellow classmates are a great place to start. Be as specific as possible when inquiring about instructors — from how much reading is assigned to how grades are determined. Getting your hands on a syllabus is also an effective way to get a better sense of the teacher, as is looking into whether he/she has won any teaching awards.

Additionally, today’s students live in the digital, sharing age.  A number of online resources, including Rate My Professors, are available through which students exchange experiences with particular professors and courses.

4. Assess and Reassess

While you may have a general idea of the coursework you plan to take during your three years of law school, this is subject to change along the way depending on everything from your academic records to your interests. If you’ve struggled with bar courses to date, loading up bar classes can help strengthen your weak areas and better prepare for what’s ahead. Or perhaps a newfound area of interest has arisen during your time in law school to date? Reassessing your plan before each new semester can help you chart the best course.

5. Don’t Forget Writing Courses!

Strong writing skills are not only vital to law school survival, but also to a successful legal career. Building in coursework focused on legal writing can help you develop crucial legal analytical skills while also generating a writing sample which might come in handy later. While one or two writing classes may be required, taking more writing courses strengthens your profile.

One caveat? Avoid loading up on too many writing courses at one time. A balanced load between writing and exam courses can prevent you from becoming overloaded when things pick up during the middle and end of the term.

One last thing to keep in mind when choosing your courses? While there’s a lot to learn in law school, there’s also a lot to discover. Stepping outside your comfort zone and trying something new — International Sports Law or Indigenous Peoples Law, anyone? — can lead in unexpected directions…not to mention exciting professional and personal payoffs.

Here are 5 Areas of Unclear Law!

When you sit back and think about it, laws apply to nearly every aspect of modern life. There are laws that regulate the stuffing in your pillows, the additives in your food, the number of windows in your apartment, and the number of cars that drive on your street. When you buy things, operate things, create things, and enter into contracts with things (and people), you engage with various laws. And while many of these laws fall under familiar fields like real estate law, civil law, health and safety laws, and intellectual property law, there are others that are more obscure but just as interesting and necessary. So, whether you want to explore the legal side of a hobby or interest, or are looking to challenge yourself in a very specific area of the law, start by considering these five little-known law fields.

1. Equine Law
You’re probably already familiar with some of the aspects of animal law, but did you know that there is an entire field of law dedicated to horses? Due to the ways in which humans interact with horses, equine law is highly specialized and includes business law, animal law, sports law, and other areas. Equine lawyers should have both a thorough understanding of the law and specific knowledge of horses and their role in society, business, leisure, and industry. A lawyer who specializes in equine law might deal in transfer agreements, sales, tax, and immigration, but may also represent equine associations, farmers, or hobbyists. Equine lawyers might also find themselves dealing with animal rights cases, international regulations, and veterinary medicine.

2. Fashion Law
Anyone who’s seen The Devil Wears Prada knows that a blue sweater is never just a blue sweater but rather a representation of ‘millions of dollars and countless jobs.’ Indeed, the fashion industry is a major player in the world’s economy, and as such requires dedicated legal professionals who can address issues ranging from intellectual property rights to trade agreements and corporate structure. Fashion law, which falls under “Droit de luxe,” or luxury law, is anything but frivolous. Alongside trade, business, and trademark law, lawyers specializing in fashion law could find themselves working on laws regulating model contracts and appearance, or tackling human rights issues related to production and supply-chains.

3. Aviation Law
Aviation law has roots in ancient Roman legal structures and the first law pertaining directly to aircraft was written in 1784 (it regulated the use of hot air balloons in Paris). Modern aviation law is more commonly associated with air travel and aircraft, and while some of the areas of aviation law fall under admiralty law, the field includes aspects of business law, federal and international law, and civil law. Lawyers working in aviation law might represent individuals who have been wronged or injured during commercial air travel, but they could also deal in airline management issues, international disputes, criminal cases, and the growing field of drone regulation. And if normal aviation isn’t exciting enough for you, consider building on your aviation expertise and launching yourself into space law!

4. Cryptography Law
Our society’s reliance on technology depends in large part on our ability to protect and encrypt information. It’s no surprise then that cryptography, or the practice of securing information, has it’s own branch of the law. Lawyers specializing in cryptography will likely concentrate on legislations related to how information is encrypted and the legality surrounding the means and instances in which information can be obtained. The field of cryptology law is gaining attention as high-profile cases, like the recent FBI-Apple encryption dispute, highlight the issues surrounding personal rights versus national (and international) security.

5. Transgender Law
This is another area of the law that has had a lot of recent media attention. Gender and sexuality are, perhaps, the greatest civil rights issues facing our generation and the laws surrounding marriage, gender identity, discrimination, self-expression, public access, and health care are evolving rapidly and make a big impact on society. Lawyers who specialize in gender and transgender issues will find themselves embroiled in a variety of cases ranging from civil disputes to criminal cases and beyond. There are opportunities for careers in both legislation and private practice, and while the field is not an easy one, the fast-paced and ever-changing nature of the field makes it an exciting challenge for lawyers who want to apply their skills to making a real difference in society.

3 Tips for Adaptation to a Brave Legal Studies World

The field of law is not the same today as it was 50, 25 or even 10 years ago. Perhaps of even greater note? It won’t be the same a decade from now as it is today. Let’s take a closer look at some of the changes impacting the law industry, along with highlighting three tips aimed at helping aspiring lawyers navigate these challenges toward successful, sought-after careers.

A Changing Landscape
Many factors are transforming the face of law. Leading the pack? Technology, which is playing out across everything from the automation of standard legal tasks to disruptive technologies aimed at increasing the efficiency of case management and back-office tasks. Just how significant is the potential impact of technology on the legal sphere? The Boston Consulting Group suggests that legal-technology solutions may perform as much as 50 percent of the work currently being done by junior lawyers.

As if this information isn’t ominous enough, consider the latest law school employment data from the American Bar Association revealing that the legal job rate for 2015 grads is just 59.2 percent. That means more than 40 percent of last year’s law school grads have yet to land full-time gigs a full 10 months after receiving their law degrees. So while law careers are often cited among the most lucrative professions, earning that high paycheck relies on one huge factor: getting a job in the first place.

The good news? Not only have legal job rates been rising at a steady albeit slow rate for the past four years, but job-minded law students can also take some steps to position themselves for success.

Three 21st Century Law Studies Tips
Just because the landscape of law is changing doesn’t mean there’s no room for you. In fact, lawyers who are ready, willing and able to think outside-the-(jury)box may end up with their pick of plum positions. The following tactics can help.

1. Know the Value of Niche
When it comes to “future-proofing,” equipping yourself with unique experiences and skills can position you not only to land a legal job, but to take on a leadership role in shaping the industry’s future. Adopting a commercially savvy outlook while keeping your own interests in mind can help.

Lawyers Weekly shares the example of business/law student Shaun Chung, who suggests parlaying passion into expertise which is transferrable to law. His advice? “Go out beyond the legal industry. The most important thing is not to silo your perspective to a legal perspective [alone].”

But tech is far from alone in its up-and-coming status. Privacy, environmental and health care are all among the hottest areas of practice for lawyers today.

2. Count on Connections
In the digital age, it’s easy to overlook the value of human networking. The ability to call on everyone from peers to innovators in the field can help aspiring lawyers both identify growth areas and position themselves to move into them. Says Chung, “If I had an emerging interest in artificial intelligence, I would talk to a technically gifted computer scientist, but also go out and see what people are actually doing to commoditise legal service.” Attending industry events, meanwhile, can yield further insights into upcoming issues in the space.

Don’t wait to start your networking until after graduation, however. From connecting with people on LinkedIn to attending alumni events, there are near-endless ways to rub digital elbows in our social age.

3. Accept that Flexibility is Marketable
One caveat worth noting about the data shared by the American Bar Association? These figures apply exclusively to full-time work. Willingness to consider other types of positions, such as part-time jobs and temporary gigs, can be a great way to get a foot in the door and/or gain real-world skills until you can land something full-time or permanent.

Geographic flexibility is also key. Law is dynamic; it ebbs and flows across areas of practice as well as areas of the country. Looking for a job in the legal-tech space? You’re more likely to find it in Silicon Valley than in a seaside resort town. Hoping to take over a small, private practice? Casting a wide net and being open to whatever comes your way can lead to the position of your dreams in an unexpected location.

The overall takeaway when it comes to the future of law jobs? While traditional careers may be harder to come by, there are plenty of opportunities for next-generation lawyers who understand the changing market and position themselves to step into critical positions as they arise.

5 Reasons to Learn About The Law Abroad

Foreign language studies may come first to mind when you think of potential international study options. But there’s plenty to gain from traveling abroad to pursue other subjects, as well. One lesser-known but equally promising field when it comes to studying abroad? Law. From undergraduate semesters abroad to graduate-level degree programs, there are plenty of options when it comes to legal studies. Let’s count down six reasons why studying abroad is a smart thing to do for contemporary law students.

1. It will broaden your mindset — about the law and in general.
Legals systems vary from country to country. In studying law abroad you won’t just gain knowledge of the law in a different country, but you’ll also develop a broader perspective of the law at large. Instead of merely understanding law studies within the context of a single country, you’ll acquire a “big picture,” boundary-free viewpoint which will prepare you to take on a variety of global challenges.

Acquiring this skillset won’t just benefit you as a future lawyer, but also as a global citizen with the ability to think creatively — a trait increasingly sought-after by today’s employers, including everyone from law firms to non-profits to corporations.

2. You’ll be a better business person in today’s global economy.
Not everyone goes to law school to become a lawyer. Whether you’re interested in practicing law for a multinational firm or planning to apply your newfound expertise in the region’s law to a career in business, studying law abroad will vastly enrich your profile. Today’s economy is increasingly global. Students looking for an edge in this dynamic marketplace are likely to find it in commercial law studies abroad.

Other areas where international law studies make particular sense? International criminal law, and human rights law — each of these branches of law is uniquely international in nature.

3. Different countries offer different specialities.
Thinking about going into a particular area of the law? If so, different countries have different things for offer. For example, if you’re interested in technology and law, the US has many programs aimed at nurturing the skills you’ll need to navigate a career in this red-hot field. Switzerland, meanwhile, is a terrific destination for students leaning toward careers in banking and financial law.

4. You’ll gain country-specific expertise.
While pursuing law studies abroad gives you a more comprehensive understanding of the law, it also offers the opportunity to hone your knowledge of a specific domestic legal system. If you’re planning to work as a lawyer in a specific country — or to work for an organization with an interest in that region of the world — than studying law there will give you a serious inside edge.

Studying law in the country where you plan to practice is also important from a logistical perspective. Depending on the country, becoming a lawyer requires certain requisites and qualifications. Studying abroad can help you better understand those expectations and get on the path toward achieving them.

5. Plenty of scholarship funding is available.
If you’d love to study law abroad but are concerned about the cost, there’s no need to cross it off your list yet. In fact, a number of scholarships exist for law students looking to internationalize their legal studies.

A great place to start? QS Law Studies’ roundup of “Law School Scholarships Around the World.” This comprehensive list includes funding for students from all over the world pursuing law studies at levels ranging from undergraduate to postgraduate.

Additionally, checking in with your home university can yield other potential funding opportunities — all aimed at helping students just like you benefit from international law studies.