If you’re a law student wondering how to get a job in the field, how many times have you asked for advice and been told to “distinguish yourself?” Not very helpful, is it? Maybe even a little condescending? That’s because it needs explaining.
Distinguishing yourself is easy when you follow your interests. That means don’t get caught up in the rat race for the best journals and clerkships if the work involved in them doesn’t really appeal to you. Instead use your time to explore and find out what does. And when you find a subject that grabs you, do things in it: take courses, write papers, do internships, go to conferences. Then, when you go to apply for a job in that area, you’ll have the resume to get you in the door and the kind of obvious interest that wins interviewers over. You’ll distinguish yourself and get what you want by simply being who you really are, and not just another interchangeable resume in human form.
Same goes for people already practicing. Just because you have a job in a particular area doesn’t mean you’re locked in for life. Wonder around through pro bono, hobbies, and networking with people who do things you might want to do. Take control of your life by not constraining your interests; let them loose and see where they lead you.
In a field where most people are doing it for the wrong reasons, genuine interest distinguishes you.