Lawyers seeking to become experts in specific areas of law may have trouble deciding which area to specialize in. When you go to law school, you might think that you will eventually work in a renowned and large firm practicing corporate law, but in reality, that may not be the case and you could be directed to another path.
It is important to remember that the law applies to all areas and can be useful in many different situations. If you need a lawyer for a legal dispute with your partner or to defend your company against a lawsuit, you should hire one. We always need a lawyer when we deal with legal matters. In fighting for their clients, they demonstrated tenacity and audacity.
How to Choose a Practice Area: Know Thyself
In law schools, some students think they know exactly what they want to do (which is not always true, by the way), whereas others have no idea. Before you can determine which career path is best for you, you must understand your interests, goals, and priorities.
To figure out what will make you happy in life (career and otherwise), you have to figure out, well, what makes you happy. It may sound difficult and tedious —but it is not. Ask yourself these questions:
1. What is your ideal practice setting?
- Do you work best in a formal hierarchy or a more casual setting?
- How important is on-the-job training or a formal mentor system?
- Do you prefer to work as part of a team or individually?
2. Are you interested in a certain practice area?
- What subjects appealed to you in your undergraduate studies?
- What do you enjoy reading about?
- What issues legal or otherwise do you care about?
3. What skills do you most enjoy using?
- Do you enjoy research, analysis, and writing?
- Is it important to you to have lots of people in contact?
- Do you work best with several projects at once or one at a time?
4. What personal commitments do you have outside of law schools/work?
- How much time do you want to have for friends and family?
- How much control would you like over your work schedule?
- How much money do you need to live comfortably?
- Where (geographically) do you want to live/work?
5. How do you define success?
- Prestige —How important is it to you that others perceive your job as important?
- Helping people —Who? How quickly? How many?
- Work/life balance?
Deciding What Type of Lawyer Will You Be
For a successful legal career, it is vital to find the right area that is tailored to your personality, experience, and interest. There are many different types of lawyers, and our need for them will depend on their area of expertise.
Here are the different types of lawyers and what they do, which can help you decide which type of lawyer you will be:
Corporate Lawyer [Business Lawyer]
We are surrounded by different businesses. Corporate lawyers are needed to manage these businesses without legalities. Those in charge of corporate law will be responsible for business matters such as acquisitions, mergers, and intellectual property laws. Others specialize in forming companies or assisting with legal business matters. Others, however, will be more concerned with employment and taxes.
Business litigation lawyers and business transactional lawyers are the two main types of business lawyers. They differ significantly from each other. Lawyers who handle business transactions typically handle transactions such as negotiating deals and drafting documents such as employment agreements. Meanwhile, business litigation lawyers handle cases where someone sues a business for violating contractual terms.
Labor and Employment Lawyer
Legal issues relating to employment are handled by labor lawyers. You will need to hire them to make sure the laws of the state and the federal government are followed. A transactional and litigation employment lawyer is like a business lawyer. Lawyers involved in employment litigation go to court when a business violates state law or the terms of an employment contract. Meanwhile, transactional employment lawyers draft employment documents during the hiring process. Depending on the lawyer, they can even perform both tasks.
A family lawyer is someone who handles all pertinent legal issues affecting your family. Families in need of assistance for prenuptial agreements, parents looking to adopt, or grandparents asserting a legal right can all benefit from the assistance of a family lawyer. These lawyers are also called divorce lawyers.
A family lawyer is more commonly hired to assist family members with divorce, child custody, and spousal support issues. Based on provisional data from the CDC, we are led to believe that there were nearly 1,000,000 divorces in 2016. Considering that divorce is only one of many family law issues, many Americans require legal counsel from family attorneys every year.
Security and Finance Lawyer
Lawyers of this type specialize in a particular field of law. The majority of issues they handle pertain to individuals and banks that issue money, or to companies that sell stock.
Intellectual Property Lawyer
An intellectual property attorney deals with anything on intellectual property laws. A patent, trademark, and copyright are three types of intellectual property law. It can be extremely difficult to deal with these kinds of cases. There are therefore also divisions of labor involved in this process. Lawyers specializing in IP litigation and those specializing in IP law in general. Lawyers representing IP in litigation go to court to fight their cases. However, ordinary IP attorneys take care of all the paperwork needed to protect your intellectual property.
Many people are not thrilled about paying taxes if any at all. Nevertheless, a tax attorney is an essential lawyer when it comes to paying taxes. The IRS tax dispute process can be particularly challenging for businesses and individuals.
With the help of an experienced tax attorney, you will be able to battle such disputes, as well as similarly complex tax situations, such as a pending divorce, with confidence that you will not make any mistakes. Local, state, and federal tax law is a specialty of these lawyers. A tax lawyer should be consulted as soon as possible if you are experiencing tax problems.
Real Estate Lawyer
A real estate lawyer assists you in any legal matter related to your property. As well as litigation and transactional real estate lawyers, there are other types as well. These two differ in certain ways. Real estate litigation lawyers take cases to court if they believe a purchase/sale agreement or a contract is being violated, or if landlords or tenants are breaking the law. On the other hand, transactional real estate lawyers deal exclusively with negotiating real estate transactions and drafting corresponding documents.
Estate Planning Lawyers
During the estate planning process as well as throughout the probate court process, estate planning attorneys are extremely helpful. You can rely on them for knowledge of state and federal estate taxes.
An estate planning lawyer specializes in estate planning and probate is an experienced and licensed attorney familiar with state and federal laws that affect the inventory, valuation, distribution, and taxation of an estate after death. An estate planning attorney can guide you through the probate process and answer your questions about it:
- Creating a will
- Designating your beneficiaries
- Establishing a durable power of attorney and medical durable power of attorney
- Finding ways to reduce and avoid estate tax when possible
- Finding ways to avoid the probate court process
- Setting up any trusts you might need to protect your assets, both for your own benefit during your lifetime in the event of incapacity, and for the benefit of your beneficiaries
Criminal Defense Lawyer
A criminal lawyer defends people against prosecution for crimes they did not commit. A reduction in sentence or assistance in staying out of jail is their goal. Lawyers dealing with these disputes handle a wide range of offenses including shoplifting, assaults, and even murder.
Most states have a lot of traffic violations, so traffic lawyers usually have a lot of clients. Attorneys for traffic offenses go to court to defend you against traffic tickets or provide legal advice to you on whether you can avoid violations for running red lights or speeding.
Digital Media and Internet Lawyer
Almost everyone has access to the Internet. A lot of offenses have been committed on social media platforms. Technology and Internet lawyers handle cases relating to the legal implications of using the internet and technology. The group deals with violations of terms and conditions on websites, infringing copyright laws, and pirating music and movies.
Entertainment lawyers specialize in all types of entertainment-related legal matters. They draft and review license agreements, deal with royalties and manage other aspects of the entertainment industry.
Personal Injury Lawyer
Attorneys who specialize in personal injury are often sought out by clients. Any kind of injury or accident is dealt with by them. Personal injury lawyers will help you if you suffered an illness that was not correctly diagnosed by a doctor, or you suffered some adverse side effects after taking a prescribed drug that was not properly warned. If you find yourself in a motor vehicle accident, it is also necessary to consult a personal injury lawyer.
Lawyers assist their clients in settling insurance claims and dealing with damage after a car accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows what to do to achieve the best outcome in the situation
By navigating the complexities of bankruptcy, bankruptcy attorneys can assist companies and individuals. It is the federal laws that govern bankruptcy rules and procedures since states are not allowed to legislate in bankruptcy cases. Therefore, preparing for bankruptcy proceedings or even knowing how to file is difficult to impossible without the legal assistance of a bankruptcy lawyer.
Debtors receive the advice they need from a bankruptcy lawyer to determine which chapter of bankruptcy is best for filing bankruptcy. Chapter 7, 11, or 13 of the federal bankruptcy laws are the most common options for debtors. Each chapter has its requirements, advantages, and disadvantages.
If you hire a bankruptcy lawyer to assist in this process, you will be able to reclaim your debts much more efficiently and effectively
The United States presents many challenges to immigrants seeking to settle here. Immigration and Citizenship Services. Immigration lawyers, then, can be a valuable asset in matters from ensuring that the immigration process runs smoothly and handling the heavy paperwork that comes with it.
Families are reunited, clients are represented during deportation proceedings, and similar issues can affect the lives and well-being of immigrants. The paperwork required to resolve immigration legal issues can be quite overwhelming for an immigrant, but an experienced immigration lawyer will help ensure these mistakes are avoided and that reliable legal counsel is provided at all times.
Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Lawyers specializing in medical-legal malpractice have a specific area of expertise. Their main responsibility is to help victims injured by doctors, hospitals, or other medical professionals.
Depending on the state's laws, these attorneys can help victims with every aspect of filing a claim against those who failed to provide a standard of care. Compensation for medical malpractice can be received in most states when a lawyer can show that a doctor's care did not meet the standard that other doctors would provide under similar circumstances and facts.
It is common for medical malpractice to result in scarring and extended injuries that can be fatal. A medical malpractice attorney with experience in recovering damages for injured patients may be recommended for those who have sustained severe injuries.
Civil Litigation Lawyer
Clients can seek civil legal action against parties responsible for civil matters or they will be able to defend themselves against a civil lawsuit.
Civil litigation encompasses disputes over rent, leases, divorce, real estate transactions, and personal injury. In civil litigation, the target is money or some kind of performance rather than criminal sanctions. Outside of criminal law, this is the most common type of legal work.
Consequently, civil litigation lawyers typically specialize in one or two areas of law, although some civil litigators resemble general practitioners. From the initial investigation through the trial, these lawyers can assist in the handling of a lawsuit.
Social Security Disability Lawyer
A Social Security disability lawyer is in some ways more specialized than a workers' compensation lawyer. Social Security disability benefits are often sought by individuals injured at work, which creates a legal overlap.
In addition to handling eligibility issues, denial appeals, and unfair termination and reduction-related issues, these attorneys will guide clients throughout the full Social Security Disability process.
Workers' Compensation Lawyer
A workers' compensation lawyer can help injured workers or survivors of workplace fatalities seek compensation that protects their rights. A workplace injury attorney can analyze your claim for benefits as well as determine the employer's legal liability. Additionally, these attorneys protect workers from wrongful retaliation by employers or unfairly denied claims, benefits, and wages.
Furthermore, these lawyers are crucial to workers who are pursuing Social Security disability benefits and dealing with permanent disability cases. Obtaining these benefits without the help of an experienced attorney is notoriously difficult.
When it comes to receiving workers' compensation benefits, a workers' compensation lawyer can help you cut through the bureaucracy and long waiting times that too many disabled workers face.
General Practice Lawyer
As the name implies, a general practice lawyer can do a little bit of everything, meaning they do not place limits on the type of law they practice. A law firm that represents clients in criminal defense, employment law, and family law would be considered a "general practice" firm. Typically, this type of lawyer works for smaller law firms, such as solo practices.
Furthermore, it is unfair to presume a general practitioner can not handle a case related to your specific legal needs. Most general practice lawyers in smaller communities have significant experience handling a variety of practice areas.
It depends on both the experience of the general practice attorney and the complexity of the legal issue of whether he or she is right for you. In several key legal areas, these firms usually provide their clients with reliable counsel and personalized legal services.
Throughout our lifetimes, climate change will become more and more important. During this period, legal professionals with experience in this area will be vital to develop regulations that reflect the needed adjustments.
Even many lawyers find it difficult to decide on the type of law they would like to practice. In law schools, students might have the impression that they will be working for large corporations or for litigation firms. To be happy in a legal career, you must find a career that's a good match for your personality and interests.
About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.
With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.
Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.
Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.
One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog, HarrisonBarnes.com, and BCGSearch.com, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.
One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.
Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.
In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.
Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.
In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.
About BCG Attorney Search
BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit www.BCGSearch.com.
Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays
You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts
You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives
Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.
Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.
To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.