Hot legal practice areas - How to find schools that specialize in them

By Hillary Mantis

“Do law schools have majors?” Tania asked me during office hours. Tania is interested in environmental law.  Environmental law is a very popular area of interest these days, so she wants to find law schools that specialize in it.

While you do not pick a “major” in law school, and no specialty is necessary, there are ways to find law schools that specialize in niche practice areas.

As you put together your list of target law schools, look for the following indicators:

-The law school has a journal in your specialty area. Other than the Law Review, most law schools have specialty journals. International Law, Environmental Law and Intellectual Property Law are a few of the specialties you will often see covered by the journals.

-The law school has a clinic or center in your specialty area. Clinics, where law students represent clients under the supervision of an attorney, have become very widespread and increasingly specialized.

Many schools have clinics that allow you to practice your litigation skills, in areas such as criminal defense, securities litigation, and many other specialties. Some law schools now have really innovative clinics in hot practice areas, such as health care, entertainment law and technology.

See if the law school has a clinic that interests you. Also some law schools now have centers that you can become a part of that specialize in certain practice areas, such as real estate law.

-The law school’s career services office has job listings and on-campus recruiters in your specialty. When you go to admissions open houses, there is almost always a career services staff member available.

Another good question is to ask them if they have a mentor program or other ways to potentially connect students with alumni in a niche practice area. Also check out the school’s alumni on sites such as LinkedIn.

Beyond visiting law schools there are some good resources to help you, such as National Association for Law Placement  (NALP) ( and the American Bar Association (ABA) (

NALP has many reports on trending emerging legal careers and the job market for lawyers, as well as the NALP Directory of Law Schools, to help find law school specialties.

The ABA has many general resources for students, as well as the ABA Required Disclosures for each law school, with detailed employment and other valuable information you may want to learn about, as you finalize your law school applications.

Hillary Mantis works with pre-law students, law students and lawyers. She is assistant dean for pre-law advising at Fordham University and author of career books including “Alternative Careers for Lawyers.” You can reach her at