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A blog with tips and insights into the practice of law

Changing areas of law

I would say that 1 out of the 10 lawyers I consult with want to practice in a completely different area than the one they are in now. I have met litigators who want to work in corporate/commercial law, property lawyers who want to work in construction and criminal lawyers who want to work in employment law. More often than not the transition from the client’s perspective at first blush is not all that welcome.  This though should not necessarily stop lawyers from following their hearts. A transition is possible – it’s just not easy and may take some time.

In the beginning many junior lawyers don’t have the luxury of carefully plotting out their career. In a highly competitive market any job is attractive and many are swayed by the possibility of a later ‘sideways shift’ should the area of law not be all that it’s promised to be. The reality has been that this ‘sideways shift’ does not always happen.  In terms of making it happen lawyers need to be able to demonstrate a real commitment to the new area of law. Some ideas that have worked in the past include: moving interstate; further education and moving to a smaller firm.  Commitment can also be demonstrated by taking a pay cut, as painful as this is.

The option for most to broaden their horizons into new areas of law is there.  Sacrifices will definitely need to be made with the possibility that your CV will read ‘master of all trades and jack of none’; however, this may be a positive if your desire has always been to work in generalist practice!

Job seekers should take comfort in the fact that there are many successful partners and principals out there who proudly relish the variety of different work alive in their CV. Indeed, perhaps they would never have got there should they have stayed in their current practice group.