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Law

Do you enjoy writing, public speaking, and analytic reasoning? Consider exploring careers in the legal field!
The legal profession is a large and profitable industry that is an integral part of our daily lives. Attorneys play key roles in the business world: in local, state, and federal court systems, in government agencies, and in nonprofit organizations. They provide legal advice and representation regarding hundreds of issues such as labor/employment, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, civil rights, national security, the environment, and bankruptcy.

Colgate Professional Networks

The Colgate Lawyers Association (CLA) currently offers a network for alumni and parents who share the dual bond of Colgate and the legal profession.

The mission of the Lawyers Association is to build the community of Colgate alumni in the legal field to encourage professional development, networking, and engagement with the university. Additionally, the Colgate Lawyers Association will work to build professional on-ramps for undergraduates and recent alumni.

Law Advisor

Headshot of Kat Kolozsvary
Read about Kat
Kat joined the Colgate University Center for Career Services adviser team in January of 2016 and focuses on the areas of Pre-Law, Education, Common Good and Government.

Before coming to Colgate, Kat was a Graduate Programs Manager at Kaplan Test Prep, working with students at colleges and universities throughout Central and Western New York. Previously, she has held a variety of positions related to the government, healthcare and technology sectors. Kat received her BA in Public Affairs from Syracuse University and enjoys spending time with her husband, Chris, their two daughters and two Great Danes.

Questions

Call 315-228-7380 for an advising appointment.

Explore Careers

Industry areas
This is not a comprehensive list, but some of the most popular law school specializations that exist today:

Business Law
  • Business law deals with any aspect of the law having to do with industry and commerce — from taxes and liability to licensing and trademarking. This extremely wide section of the law forks off into numerous areas of expertise.
  • Small-business law: often focuses on the kind of legal counsel needed during the early years of a business, such as tax classifications, hiring employees, and the proper zoning and licensing needed to start a business.
  • Corporate law: is more likely to deal with the financial and structural status of an established company, as well as the provision of legal advice on day-to-day dealings.
    Criminal Law
  • Criminal law revolves around governmental prosecution of anyone who is purported to have committed a criminal act, as defined by public law. An act cannot be classified as a crime if no precedent has been set by either governmental statute or common law, and suits between two individuals or organizations are considered to be civil, rather than criminal cases.
    Environmental Law
  • Environmental law mostly stems from a group of federal enactments passed in 1970 that forced agencies and businesses to take into account the effect of their practices on the environment. The enactments set into effect laws and standards that would protect the environment from public and private actions.
    Intellectual Property Law
  • Intellectual property (IP) law has seen tremendous growth in the past decade. It is a general category of law that deals with the acquisition and enforcement of patents, trademarks and copyrights. IP law can traditionally be broken down into three subdivisions:
    • Patent law: focuses on inventions and technology.
    • Trademark law: is designed to defend an individual's or a company's investment in any distinguishing name, symbol or device.
    • Copyright law: deals with the protection of literary, artistic and musical works.
    Joint Degree Programs*
  • In addition to offering specialized areas of study, many law schools have instituted formal dual-degree programs that offer students the opportunity to pursue a JD while also working toward a Master's degree. Although the JD/MBA combination is the most popular joint-degree sought, many universities offer a JD program combined with Masters' degrees in public policy, public administration and social work, among others. Although they take more work, dual degrees may make some students more marketable for certain positions come job time. (*Depends on the school, joint degrees can vary)
    Resources for Further Exploration
    Vault Industry Guides: Log in or create an account (you will need to create an account using your Colgate e-mail address to view this content) and then find “Law” through the search box or in Industries & Professions – There are links to pages for many specific professions at the bottom of this page.

Prepare for Jobs and Internships

Information, tips, and strategies to help prepare you as an undergraduate
Entry-level positions
Many students or recent graduates choose to pursue a gap year (or several) prior to attending law school. A paralegal role is a common option for students looking to fill the time before law school, though serving as a paralegal is not the only route through which to be successful in law school. For more information on the paralegal position see spotlightoncareers.org/career/paralegal-2 (for username and password, please contact Career Services)
Education and certification requirements
To practice law, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) is required. In addition, law school graduates must also pass the bar exam within the state(s) in which they plan to practice. For more information on applying to law school, visit the Colgate Pre-Law Advising Page and the Future JD Students page on the LSAC website.
Helpful skills
Necessary skills will depend on the type of law you intend to practice. For instance, a role more litigation-based will require very different abilities than one which primarily involves research. In general, the following are important attributes for someone pursuing law to possess:
  • Reading and writing skills, love of language
  • Public speaking competency and confidence, rhetoric
  • Logic, attention to detail
Buzz words
Visit Black's Law Dictionary for the most up-to-date legal jargon.
Industry news and trends
Knowledge of industry news can give you a sense of the culture and make you a better interview candidate.

Blogs Some Twitter Accounts to Follow:
  • @Msjdorg: excellent resource for women in law school/the legal field
  • @prelawguru: Peg is always sharing tips and tricks for your law school application
  • @ABAesq: Home of the American Bar Association
  • @LearnLeo: LSAT study tips
  • @Lawyerist: Your place for how to survive life in practicing law
  • @LawSchoolNews: Updates and information relating to law schools
  • @LawPreview: 6-day and 5-day classroom instruction and online courses to help you prepare for law school
  • @LSACForums: Forums are law school events across the country that let you meet with law school representatives, LSAC members, and attend workshops to help you create a competitive application
  • @Admissions_Dean: Provides an inside scoop on law school information, scholarships, and the admissions process
Search individual law schools that you are interested in. More and more law schools have their own twitter account and share updates!
Relevant Colgate coursework
All liberal arts majors can be applied to a law degree. More common areas of study include:
  • Classics
  • Economics
  • English
  • History
  • Humanities
  • Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Sociology and Anthropology
  • Theater
  • Women’s Studies
  • Writing and Rhetoric
Professional associations
These organizations can be great places to make connections, learn more about the field and search openings. Many have discounted student memberships.

Alumni Advice

Allison Hart '09
Current Title and Organization:
Paralegal Supervisor at US Department of Justice

Major and Minor at Colgate:
Major: English Lit, Minor: Theatre

Advanced Degrees:
Master of Health Administration, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Q&A with Allison
What do you currently do?
The Antitrust Division is divided into sections, each dealing with a different mix of product markets. Because of what my section covers, most of my cases have been in healthcare. As a paralegal supervisor, I both manage paralegals in my section and do casework myself. A large portion of our paralegals' responsibilities include examining the internal documents and communications of a company to determine if there is any evidence of a violation. In the early phases of an investigation, attorneys will interview companies involved with the industry to get a sense of whether the proposed merger or conduct is a violation. Paralegals sit in on these interviews and write a memo summarizing the interview. When a case continues in the investigation phase, a paralegal will help an attorney prepare to take a deposition, compiling the exhibits, doing research, and attending the deposition. Finally, if a case gets to the final stages and is still deemed an antitrust violation, paralegals help research and edit documents such as a recommendation to sue.

What was your first position out of Colgate and what did you do in that role?
My first position was with a boutique public relations firm in New York City (I can credit Colgate with leading me to this position, as it was posted on our internal job website!). I had a wide variety of tasks, including contacting media outlets to pitch news stories about our clients, posting stories on the firm's website, writing short stories to pitch, and even getting coffee. Since the firm was smaller, I was able to see all aspects of the PR process.

How can students prepare themselves while at Colgate to work in your field?
Students should take every opportunity to learn how to write well while at Colgate. In each position I have had, I was given more responsibility and more interesting projects after I proved myself as an articulate and efficient writer. While legal writing can have specific parameters, the basics are the same as any style of writing. Therefore, take every opportunity to get feedback on your writing at school. No matter what field or career you enter, polished writing stands out.

What extracurricular activities, associated with your profession or not, were you involved with while at Colgate?
While at Colgate, I was a member of Charred Goosebeak. Not only did I make some of my closest friends in the improv group, but becoming comfortable with improvisation has been very transferrable to the workplace. For students, I suggest joining any extracurricular activity they find fun--college allows you to easily explore a wide variety of activities and fields, so use every opportunity to find your interests (and remember, even determining what doesn't interest you is helpful).

Find Opportunities

Recruiting timeline
Employers recruiting at the lawyer level will typically conduct the majority of their recruitment at law schools. However, Colgate’s Center for Career Services posts a number of positions each year aimed at students pursuing paralegal roles, for which employers recruit year round.
Job and internship programs

naviGATE Opportunities

Below are some opportunities that may interest you from naviGATE, Colgate's internship and job database.

More Opportunities

The Liberal Arts Career NetWORK (LACN) and Nationwide Internships Consortium (NIC) are databases of internships and entry-level jobs posted by employers interested in hiring liberal arts students.

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