Talented Junior Lawyer Overcomes Hurdles to Successfully Switch Practice Areas from Finance to Family Law | BCGSearch.com

Talented Junior Lawyer Overcomes Hurdles to Successfully Switch Practice Areas from Finance to Family Law

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Law students and summer associates are encouraged to think broadly about their careers and the type of law they want to practice. This is the time for legal career and practice area "exploration." Do you want to be a transactional lawyer or a litigator? Are you going to represent big businesses in antitrust disputes or indigent defendants accused of crimes? Are you going to parlay your scientific background into patent law? And if so, are you best suited to writing patents or advocating in court? If you are eyeing corporate law, will you follow a path to capital markets or bank lending or financial regulation?

There are lots of possibilities out there, but the time to explore and try out different practice areas is during law school or very soon thereafter. Once you become an associate assigned to a specific practice area, firms are increasingly less and less tolerant for this type of curiosity. It is not impossible to switch practice areas down the road, of course, but it becomes much more difficult. The reason for this is because firms are investing in - and training you as - a specialist in a particular area of law. They do not want to waste their time and money training you for one area of law only to have you decide that you want to do something else after a few months or years.

Convincing a firm to retrain you in a new practice area is difficult - especially as a lateral, given you will have not have built up "good will" with that firm yet. To be successful, you generally need to have very strong credentials and demonstrate that you are a "good bet" for being able to pick up the new skill-set in short order and pay it forward in a way that will be beneficial to the firm. You should have good educational credentials, both in terms of where you went to law school and the grades you got there, and a track record if good work performance at a well-regarded firm that commands respect in the legal community.

You should also be able to show how your existing skill-set is transferable in at least certain material respects to the new practice area. Moreover, you will want to alleviate any concerns the firm will have about your stability and commitment to the new practice area. Firms are businesses and do not like hiring attorneys who get bored or discouraged easily, or who evidence a lack of follow-through.

While switching practice areas is difficult, it is not impossible. This placement involved a junior lawyer who was able to successfully do so. When she came to me, she was working at a large and very prestigious international law firm in a specialized finance-oriented practice area. She had done well in college and law school and gone to T-14 law school. She was extremely articulate and personable and very responsive in terms of providing me all the information and documents I needed to assist her with the search. It was clear that she was a terrific attorney with a very promising future and I had no doubt that she could easily make a lateral move to another firm so long as she wanted to remain in her current practice area.

But that is not what she wanted. She wanted to switch practice areas - not even just to a different area within finance law but all the way to family law. I knew this would be a complicated placement. I talked to her at length and grew to like her very much and also to believe that she was genuinely interested in family law for all the right reasons. She wanted very much to help people and use her legal skills for the benefit of people and families. She had given a lot of thought to making the transition and had undertaken a course of self-study into family law topics on her own time. I felt confident that this was not a lark for her and that she would commit to family law and do a great job at it. I was confident that she was a quick study and was such a capable person and attorney that she would be up and running in family law soon.

We cast our search very broadly and she approved all the firms I sent her. As part of the application process, we demonstrated her excellent academic and work credentials and we also showed how many aspects of her current practice were actually transferable to family law (even if they did not appear to be so at first glance). It took a bit of time, but eventually this candidate got interviews and offers from a few family law firms. She ended up taking a position with a terrific and highly regarded boutique. This boutique saw her promise and brought her on board, where she could channel her intelligence, energy and enthusiasm into helping people and families solve problems.

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.
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