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Master Constitutional Law For a Successful Career
With growing debate over the political sphere, many aspiring law students hope to defend Americans’ rights and liberties through a law career.
One of the best fields of study to prepare for any law career, U.S. News & World Report reports, is constitutional law.
“Constitutional law has a vast array of applications in the legal profession, and mastering constitutional law through required and elective courses will help prospective attorneys learn skills that they will use throughout their careers,” US News reporter Ilana Kowarski writes.
U.S. News recently outlined various ways constitutional law influences lawyers as well as advice on deciding a strong constitutional law program.
Consider Constitutional Law’s Influence
One of the biggest misconceptions regarding constitutional law is that aspiring constitutional lawyers need to work for a national, high-profile employer. Jason W. Swindle Sr., a criminal defense attorney and adjunct professor of criminology at the University of West Georgia, says this is wrong.
“The Constitution is involved in so many things that people don’t think about, not just what SCOTUS is doing right now with some hot-button issue that they’re ruling on; but in literally hundreds of thousands of trial courts around this country, the Constitution is being used,” Swindle says.
For many criminal trial attorneys, constitutional law is something that is dealt with on a regular basis. The leading authorities on constitutional law “are the prosecutors and defense attorneys battling in court over traffic stops, confessions, searches of homes, etc. Every single criminal case in America has constitutional aspects to it,” Swindle tells U.S. News.
Choosing a Strong Constitutional Law Program
Constitutional law is a huge field of study. It’s important for law students to identify the aspect of the Constitution that concerns them most before deciding on a law program.
Austen Parrish is dean and James H. Rudy Professor at Indiana University—Bloomington’s Maurer School of Law. Parrish says a student’s interest in constitutional law usually stems from a desire to reform the legal system and address a specific political issue. Pinpointing this specific issue within the constitution can help students identify the right constitutional law program.
When deciding between constitutional law programs, a good strategy is to evaluate professors’ resumes. Look for published influential constitutional analysis or litigated important constitutional cases, US News reports.
Another strategy is to consider schools that offer a Supreme Court litigation clinic. A Supreme Court litigation clinic, according to SCOTUS Blog, allows “students to work with experienced Supreme Court practitioners on actual cases before the Court.” Schools, such as Stanford Law and Yale Law, often offer these clinics to let students gain experience on Supreme Court cases.
Lawrence Friedman is a constitutional law professor at New England Law Boston. He says constitutional law is great training for necessary skills in law.
“Constitutional law is a great way for students to develop their analytical abilities,” he says. “It is one of the very few areas of law that is completely case-driven, and understanding how courts decide constitutional issues – really digging into the opinions, taking them apart and putting them back together and being able to predict where the law is going next – it’s a fantastic training ground.”
Sources: US News, SCOTUS Blog

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