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Tips for Changing Practice Areas

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

If Robert Frost were a career counselor, he would tell you to take the road less traveled by.

It could turn out well, too, depending on your perspective. After all, a poet can sometimes be a prophet.

But if you are considering a change in practice areas, then Robert Half Legal might give you different advice. Here are some directions if you are deciding which way to go:

1. Understand and Explain Your Reasons for Changing

If you are looking to work for a new firm, you may have to learn entirely different laws and procedures. Be prepared to articulate reasons for making the switch because hiring managers will ask.

If you are changing your own firm direction, be prepared to answer the same question for clients.

2. Be Ready to Take a Step Backwards

Check your ego and your paycheck at the door. Entering a new specialty will likely affect your seniority, and you may have to report to less experienced co-workers.

Of course, employers pay more for specialized knowledge. Your salary will likely plateau or go down until you gain more experience in your new field.

3. Consider What You Can Transfer to a New Area

Certain skills and experience may transfer to the specialties that interest you, so think about what you can do already. For example, you may have general litigation skills that will transfer to personal injury or business litigation.

Also, consider your education. If have a degree in technology, engineering or mathematics, you may fit readily into an intellectual property practice. The main idea is to use the knowledge and skills you've already developed.

4. Go for the Gold

If you are going down a new road, follow one with dollar signs. Robert Half's Salary Guide, newly minted for 2017, says to look for opportunities in healthcare, technology, financial services, manufacturing, real estate, and construction.

Emerging specialties also include cybersecurity, international trade, cannabis, craft beer and spirits. The American Bar Association is considering a certified specialty in privacy law.

5. Seek Career Advice

A mentor or career counselor can help find the path that suits you best. Recruiters can also give you a realistic assessment of what legal jobs you qualify for and help find a job in your new field. In addition, you can check out our weekly updates on top cool legal jobs.

Post a job, find a job, learn about the job market on Indeed.

Related Resources:

FindLaw has an affiliate relationship with Indeed, earning a small amount of money each time someone uses Indeed's services via FindLaw. FindLaw receives no compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

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