Out of all the inquiries I receive from attorneys as a recruiter, no small number are from attorneys who, for various reasons, are looking to switch practice areas at some point in their career. Perhaps they were a general commercial litigator who discovered a passion for employment law after getting assigned to an employment dispute, or it might be an attorney who had hoped to do tax law but fell into general transactional work because no firms were hiring tax lawyers when that attorney graduated (this is fairly common with would-be corporate attorneys who came out of school during the economic crash and had to take an alternate practice group position or none at all).
Whatever the reason, there are various factors that make a transition to a different practice area more or less feasible as a career option, and hopefully by reading about and considering these factors in detail, you will come to a more informed decision about the next step in your career.
Factor One - Is Your Desired Practice Area Related At All To Your Current Practice Area?
If you are looking to switch to an entirely different practice area, e.g., from litigation to real estate transactions, it is going to be an extremely tough sell to future prospective employers. As I have discussed in a previous article, you should always consider your job search from the perspective of a prospective employer and what they are going to be looking for in a potential hire - the bottom line is value.
You may be a good attorney. In fact, you may be an excellent attorney, and a top-notch litigator. But if you do not have the requisite experience, knowledge, and skill set for a particular practice area, it is hard to see from a hiring perspective why you would be a more valuable addition than an attorney who has already been practicing in that area for a number of years.