How to Choose a Rewarding Practice Area

No matter which stage of the law school journey you're in, you're probably thinking about which practice area to specialize in. The practice area you choose will affect your long-term career success. Make the right move and you'll be far more likely to enjoy greater job satisfaction and security. Make the wrong move and you'll struggle to find professional fulfillment.

But how do you know which move is the right one and which one is the wrong one?

Know Yourself and Your Passions

If you're looking for both professional and personal fulfillment in your law career, you need to know yourself and your passions.

Which areas of the law interest you? Do you want to help injured victims obtain justice and compensation? Maybe you want to help businesses make smart legal decisions. Or, maybe you'd like to help people with disabilities get the help they need.

Consider both your passions and your talents – they often go hand-in-hand.

Your personality comes into play, too.

If you truly enjoy writing, researching, analytical thinking and developing strategies, a career as a litigator may be a good fit for you. But if you're more interested in corporate or business matters, a career as a corporate lawyer may be a better option.

It's easy to give in to pressure from partners to choose a certain practice area or to choose a "trendy" specialization (like cybersecurity) because it offers a higher paycheck. But if you ultimately aren't interested or even dislike the substance of the practice area, you'll wind up hating your job.

Trial and Error

Some lawyers don't settle on a practice area right away. Instead, they test the waters in different areas of the law until they find their passion and talent.

Sometimes, trial and error is the only way to determine whether way you want to focus on a particular practice area. It's not uncommon for lawyers to try different practice areas before they finally settle on one later in their careers.

Consider the Demand of the Practice Area

Passion goes a long way in providing you professional fulfillment, but if your goal is to also succeed financially, you should consider the demand of the practice area.

We've also reached a point where having a law degree doesn't guarantee you job security at any law firm. It's important to stand out and obtain skills, or specialize in a practice area, that others do not offer.

There are plenty of litigators out there, but there are fewer lawyers specializing in ERISA, for example. Demand for the latter will be much higher than the former because so few people specialize in this practice area.

That's not to say that you should blindly choose a practice area because it's in high demand. Rather, you should take the time to research and consider the demand in areas you're interested in.

Ultimately, you're not tied to any practice area you choose, but finding your passion and committing early on will give you the opportunity to start establishing yourself as an authority in your field.

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