Switching Practice Areas in the Law: 3 Things to Keep in Mind
In a previous piece, we gave a few pointers for how to escape law as a career. That was meant for those who gave it their best but decided that the honeymoon of law was over.
If you still have some love left for the law, but you're otherwise feeling burnt out, you should consider looking for other practice areas. Fortunately, you're not the only one (nor will you be the last) who has considered a practice change. Take the following points into consideration.
1. Hot Areas
Legal head-hunting service Robert Half Legal threw together a list of the top in-demand fields based on salaries. If you have (or want) experience in the following fields, things are looking good for you: litigation in insurance defense, med-mal, commercial litigation and employment, business law, healthcare law, IP, Property, cybersecurity. You'll notice that all of these lean towards property rights and technical expertise. Bachelors of Science holders and those with technical backgrounds, rejoice.
2. Do you Have the Skills?
Let's assume you're a transactional attorney. This means you probably have experience looking up necessary contract provisions and proofing documents for glaring omissions. But does this mean you can just switch into litigation? Probably not so much. This is why it's so crucial to have a general focus in your first few years, but to also have enough breadth of practice so that you won't be completely type-cast once you try and switch roles.
3. Your Ego: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Although switching practice areas is less drastic a move than switching professions, the law is a profession that is stratified into multiple areas of specialization. If you've been spending years as a bankruptcy attorney and want to make the change to employment litigation, you'll have to accept that you'll be junior to some other attorney.
Of course, a little humility is a good thing, but a lot of lawyers will have a real problem with this, especially if his or her boss might be a number of years younger. Unfortunately, the only real chance of determining who might be your immediate or ultimate superior is to try and find a position at a smaller firm and get to know the people first hand. If you're a real gunner, keep this in mind about your personality. You don't want to start making enemies too soon on the job.
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- Emerging Interests of Today's Job Seeker (Indeed)
- Switching legal Practice Areas: Is it a Good Option? (AmericanDrama.org)
- 5 Booming Practice Areas for Law Firms Looking to Grow (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Which Legal Practice Areas Make Associates the Happiest? (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- How to Make the Move to BigLaw (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
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