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Which Legal Practice Areas Make Associates the Happiest?

By Mark Wilson, Esq. | Last updated on

The results from Vault's 2014 Law Firm Associate Survey are in, reports TaxProf Blog. Wait, why is TaxProf Blog reporting on this? Probably because "Tax" is the practice area with the highest associate satisfaction. Take that, antitrust!

So what makes tax law so interesting? "Tax law may be satisfying work because it is often described as solving a puzzle, allowing lawyers to find creative solutions to their clients' problems," Vault opines on its website. I read that to mean "finding ever-more creative ways around the tax code." But hey, everyone needs to find fulfillment at work.

So in which other practice areas are associates happy, according to this survey?

1. Government Contracts.

Really? When you're dealing with high-powered clients, you can be wined and dined oh the live-long day. But when your client is the government, they can't wine you or dine you -- heck, you'll both be in trouble if they so much as leave behind a pen with the city's name on it. On the other hand: Bus passes!

2. Trusts and Estates.

It's a fact of life: Everyone dies. No matter how badly the economy is doing, people still need wills. Plus, trusts and estates are very low-stress. Unless your client is on his or her deathbed, you've got plenty of time to write that will, right?

3. Energy, Oil, and Gas.

Unless you're in South Dakota, you're probably in Texas, and that's pretty good for you. Barbecue, Mexican, seafood? There's something for everyone! (Unless you're in west Texas. Sorry about that.)

4. Health Law.

At least this emerging new field allows you to be at the forefront of whatever health care is going to look like over the next 10 years. That is, unless House Speaker John Boehner manages to get the Affordable Care Act repealed, in which case, it's back to Social Security reimbursements for you!

5. International Law.

Oh, geez, you know, I've just got to pop over to Venice for this contract thing, and then I've got to be in London, Paris, and Madrid the week after that. Gosh, life is hard. Pass the Sachertorte.

6. Antitrust.

This is a field of law where we can actually imagine you feel good about yourself. Trying to stop mega-corporations from taking over the world? Sign me up! Although the inevitable depression sets in once you realize they're going to be slapped on the wrist with a couple million in fines and then proceed with business as usual.

7. Intellectual Property.

Associates working in IP are probably getting paid by Apple, Google, and the gamut of Silicon Valley businesses. You should go check out their cafeterias and foosball tables.

8. Real Estate.

Why imagine yourself as a lawyer when you can imagine yourself as Alec Baldwin in "Glengarry Glenn Ross"? Don't forget the ABCs of residential leasing: "Always Be Condo Converting"!

9. Technology.

We're not exactly sure what "technology" means in Vault's survey, but lawyers sure do love technology. Head on over to our Technologist blog to find out more. (No, seriously, this is filler because we don't know what "technology" means. IP? But they covered IP already!)

10. Employee Benefits.

Like wills and trusts, except with living people, employee benefits is a field of law that will never go away. Employees need to be paid -- that is, until the sharing economy "disrupts" all employees into being independent contractors.

Does your practice area make you happy? Let us know via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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