The legal world is full of opportunities, but sometimes it can be difficult to navigate. This is because there are so many ways that you can use your legal degree, whether you’re interested in working as an attorney, starting your own law firm, or even serving as legal counsel for an insurance company or other type of business. In the United States, there are hundreds of lawsuits filed each week, so it’s important to figure out what you’re interested in focusing on as an attorney and go after it. That being said, determining your interests and formulating a game plan can be easier said than done.
One of the best things you can do for your career as a lawyer is to continue learning even after graduation. Yes, graduate school and the rest of your education will have been demanding and taught you a lot about legal topics like negligence and how attorneys can work with law enforcement, but there are some things that go beyond your bachelor’s degree that you need to learn in the real world if you truly want to find success in the legal field. Keep reading for a view of different strategies and ideas to consider if you’re interested in criminal justice and want to boost your knowledge through several different resources.
Look for a mentor.
Mentorship is an incredible way to continue to bolster your learning and career after you graduate. With the right mentor, you can gain valuable professional advice at every step of your career, whether you’re just looking for jobs or are struggling to determine the next right step. Thanks to the internet, it’s simpler than ever to connect with other folks online, even if they’ve worked in other countries like Canada. As a networking tool, the internet and websites like LinkedIn are invaluable resources for reading up on what peers have done, even if you never reach out to them. However, when you do start to chat with a mentor, the rewards can be even richer.
For example, if you’re a woman of color looking for mentorship in the world of law, you may have run across Malliha Wilson. Malliha has an impressive resume in the world of employment law and litigation and has an equally impressive background in the world of human rights. She has held positions with the supreme court of Canada and her legal advice is generally considered by others to be quite sound.
Before the internet, connecting with someone with the extensive experience someone like Malliha brings to the legal process would have been quite difficult. This is especially true since she currently resides in Toronto, Ontario as a senior counsel partner with Nava Wilson LLP. That being said, nowadays it’s possible to reach out to people like Malliha and see what advice they may have for fellow female litigators interested in someday following in her footsteps and serving as the attorney general with the supreme court of Canada.
Whether you’ve been a part of the criminal justice system for years or are just about to graduate after receiving your master’s degree, getting professional insight from a special legal advisor such as Malliha can be a major boon.
Review your education.
Just because you got your bachelor’s degree—or even your law degree for that matter—doesn’t mean that you’ve truly retained everything from your education. Especially when it comes to handling complex litigation or understanding how to best serve your plaintiff or defendant, it can never hurt to go back and review what you learned in school to see if there are some additional lessons that give you new insight when applied to the knowledge you’ve fostered outside of your schooling.
For example, if you went through a criminal justice program, it may be worth reviewing some of the syllabi from your bachelor’s degree in criminal justice to see what cases, books, or other resources may be useful to reassess. Sometimes, it’s in your best interest to take a look at these resources away from the pressures to actually earn your bachelor’s degree, since the criminal justice field (and the criminal justice system for that matter), can be quite complicated.
When you’re looking at various lecture notes or reading assignments without the pressure of earning a diploma or your master’s degree, you might be surprised by the information that jumps out at you that you didn’t remember. Learning for a test is different than learning how to navigate the statute of limitations for a wrongful termination case in real-time, and having the chance to review your educational materials with the hindsight of lived experience can be incredibly beneficial.
Get an internship or apprenticeship.
Another great way to keep learning and gaining hands-on experience is through internships or apprenticeships. Whether that means you’re keeping books in the Ontario court of appeal or are shadowing the day-to-day routine of an assistant deputy attorney general, there are a lot of different ways to learn more about the legal system through experiential means. For example, the attorney-client relationship gets much clearer when you’re viewing it through the lens of an actual personal injury attorney.
As such, it might make sense to work with a slip and fall lawyer who has already established a name for themselves to learn more about cases where a wet floor leads to the right verdict for a fall victim. These sorts of real-life scenarios are much different from experiences outside of law school since fall lawsuits and fall claims can get particularly contentious at times.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in learning more about labor law, it may make more sense to work with an employment law attorney. Employment law has a lot of nuances that aren’t necessarily clear until you’re in the thick of protecting the interests of a business owner. As such, finding employment law attorneys with years of experience to share with you can be a valuable way to learn more about the field before you yourself enter the courtroom.
Criminal law and the justice system is something that is full of divergent career opportunities, which can make it difficult to figure out your own path at times. However, by keeping the above tips in mind, you’ll have taken the first step towards continuing to learn outside of law school, which can be just as rewarding as attending school yourself.