Where Do You Fit Best in the Legal Market?

dreamstime_xs_66558437

“I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I went to law school and am now in my first job…but something seems amiss.  Do I even want to practice law? Why did I go to law school?!”

Sound familiar?

Slow down. We encounter this a lot. Sometimes these thoughts start occurring in the first year, but for many we see it happen in the first five years. Nine times out of ten, you’re just in the wrong practice area. You may have taken a job due to other factors like compensation, location, or because you were familiar with the firm and already knew some of their attorneys. Few attorneys are allowed to cherry pick exactly what they practice right out of law school. Where you fit best in the legal market is a process of discovery.

Start by asking yourself: Litigation or Transactional? Sometimes I hear attorneys call this the “front end of the deal” (transactional) verses “the aftermath” (litigation). Transactional lawyers tend to get satisfaction from watching deals come together, working on teams, and helping their clients achieve business goals.  Litigation attorneys tend to enjoy solving complex problems and don’t mind when things get really stressful. They like debate and enjoy competition. I have also seen attorneys who find that they like both. Litigators who start handling transactional work once they go in-house will tell you that their litigation experience serves them well in drafting contracts and other deal work. Once attorneys see things come apart, they understand the fault lines and can avoid them from the beginning.

Here’s the good news: there are steps you can take to work towards a legal career that is fulfilling and right for you!

  •  Start by asking yourself what you like about your practice and research areas of law that allow you to do more of that   work. Then, start seeking out attorneys in those practice areas.  Take them to lunch and pick their brain. That way, when they hear about opportunities, they will likely reach out.
  • Communicate your desires to your firm. Most firms need that feedback! Lawyers who aren’t enjoying their work likely won’t stay and develop their practice into partnership.  This is your leverage, so look long-term and use it by communicating with your firm.
  • Consider obtaining an LLM to direct your education in a specialty that will give you better exposure to that area.
  • Set alerts on your job feed to look for keywords that will help you identify new opportunities in your desired practice.
  • Reach out to recruiters and let them know what you’re looking for. A good recruiter might help you get a foot in the door even when there is no job posted – we’re here to help you find your path and navigate it too!

Related Blogs

  • Mar 9, 2018
    What do I say…

    I get this question all the time, but there was an example of this last week that stayed with me..

    Read More
  • Jan 19, 2018
    The Phenomena of Hiring…

    Pertaining to the cycle of hiring, there is a funny thing that happens in southern Louisiana, particularly New Orleans. Clients..

    Read More
  • Oct 4, 2017
    The Effects of Unemployment…

    The national unemployment rate fell as low as 4.3 percent during 2017 — the lowest level in 16 years. When..

    Read More
  • Aug 17, 2017
    Navigating the Job Market:…

    After months of living in Houston and asking myself if I was scared of this term “adulting” or if I..

    Read More
  • Mar 2, 2017
    Cover Letters

    DO I REALLY NEED A COVER LETTER? You are not the first person to ask. Although there is no guarantee..

    Read More
  • Jan 23, 2017
    Networking

    NETWORKING TO LAND YOUR DREAM JOB Networking is simply the ability to connect with others.  Especially when you are searching..

    Read More
  • Jan 11, 2017
    Social Media

    WHAT NOT TO POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA Have you ever considered how a potential employer may see you through your..

    Read More
  • Oct 28, 2016
    Cybersecurity Boom

    Recently, Law.com published an interesting article about New York’s recent proposed changes for financial institutions and insurers. There will be..

    Read More
  • Oct 19, 2016
    Thank You Notes

    TAKE THE TIME FOR A HANDWRITTEN THANK YOU Regardless of industry, business professionals receive hundreds of emails and texts a..

    Read More
  • Sep 14, 2016
    Paralegal Certificates

    THE POWER OF A PARALEGAL CERTIFICATE There are countless benefits in obtaining a paralegal certificate for both experienced professionals and..

    Read More
  • Aug 1, 2016
    Topic du jour: The…

    In every major search assignment, we learn something about our market and the present state of industry.  Currently, we are..

    Read More
  • Jul 27, 2016
    Are you an Outdoor…

    We recently worked with a lawyer who is doing a reverse we don’t often see – someone who went in-house..

    Read More
  • Apr 28, 2016
    Learning Lessons from Other…

    Most people change jobs or careers at least once in their lives. Exploring new job opportunities is an expected reality..

    Read More
  • Apr 4, 2016
    How to Stand Out…

    Our last post promoted an article that gave new law graduates tips for getting a job - but once you..

    Read More
  • Mar 17, 2016
    Advice from Veteran Attorneys…

    The legal world is getting hard to break into. As legal careers become more and more popular, they also become..

    Read More
  • Feb 12, 2016
    Reach your Career Goals…

    It's been a little over a month since New Year's resolutions were made, and with Valentine's Day right around the..

    Read More
  • Jan 4, 2016
    Ways to Explore and…

    Making New Year's resolutions can be daunting, and sticking to those resolutions can be even harder. But sometimes making a..

    Read More