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Consider Your Attorney Job Search Options

published February 14, 2013

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In order to help you establish the focus of your job search, lawyers in transition ought to decide whether they wish to consider opportunities in different practice settings or areas of practice.

Different Practice Settings


Although this may seem obvious, switching practice settings has made a world of difference for many attorneys. It is also the least drastic and easiest change to make.

Choices include:
  • Move from the private sector to the public sector or vice-versa.
  • Move from a large firm to a small firm.
  • Move from an urban environment to a suburban environment or from a firm's main office to a branch office.
  • Move to a different environment while utilizing the same skills; i.e., from insurance defense litigation in a law firm to a similar position in an insurance company.
  • Change to a firm with different types of clients.
A good way to deal with this issue is to take an inventory of your most desired work settings and options.
Complete the following checklist by indicating which options most interest you:

A. Law Firm

Solo Practice
  • 2 - 10 Attorneys
  • 11-25 Attorneys
  • 26 - 50 Attorneys
  • 51 - 100 Attorneys
  • 101 - 250 Attorneys
  • 251 - 500 Attorneys
  • 500 + Attorneys
Representing
  • Businesses
  • Businesses with significant pro bono opportunities
  • Businesses and individuals
  • Individuals ( defense/ plaintiff)
  • Individuals (non-litigation)
  • Public Interest
  • Other (specify)
B. Government

Federal
  • Executive
  • Legislative
  • Judicial ( trial/ appellate)
  • US Attorney
  • Armed Forces
State
  • Executive
  • Legislative
  • Judicial ( trial/ appellate)
  • Attorney General
  • County or Regional
  • Executive
  • Legislative
  • Judicial ( trial/ appellate)
  • District Attorney
Municipal
  • Executive
  • Legislative
  • Judicial ( trial/ appellate)
  • City Solicitor
C. Academic
  • Law School Professor
  • Law School Administrator
  • Other School Professor
  • Other School Administrator
  • Librarian
D. Public Interest/Human Services
  • Legal Services Programs Individual Representation Class Action,
  • Law Reform Policy,
  • Research Litigation Public Defender ( Trials/ Appeals)
  • Public Interest Law Centers
  • Individual Representation
  • Class Action, Law Reform
  • Policy, Research
  • Litigation
  • Social Action Organizations
  • Citizen/Community Organizations
  • Nonprofit Organizations
E. Corporation In-house Counsel (Profit/Non-Profit)
  • Business
  • Foundation
  • Non-Profit
  • Labor Union
  • Trade Association
  • College and University
  • Museum
  • Professional Society
  • Religious Organization
  • Hospital/Health Organization
  • Banking/Financial Services
  • Real Estate Development
  • Insurance Accounting
  • Management Consulting
F. Other
  • Delivery of Legal Services
  • Elective Politics Systems
  • Pre-Paid Legal Services
  • Private Foundations
  • Legal Clinics
  • Non-traditional legal career
Different Practice Areas

Many attorneys are upset to discover that, having chosen the real estate department as a first year associate, they are forever condemned to practice real estate law. Moving to a different area of practice involves a substantive change, which can be much more difficult to make than moving to a different practice setting. Here are some good ways to start:
  • Attend continuing legal education courses offered by the American Bar Association, state and local bar associations, Law Institutes, and private companies.

  • Join the relevant section of the American Bar Association and your state or local bar association. Membership often includes a subscription to a publication that provides information on new developments in the field and upcoming programs. Volunteer to work as an active member. This will provide excellent opportunities for networking and learning about the subject, as well as establishing credibility.

  • Take courses at a local university related to your area of interest. You do not have to commit to getting a degree. Many schools have certificate or "visiting professional" programs.

  • Enroll in an LL.M. program.

  • Do volunteer work for an organization in your area of interest.

  • If you want to remain with the same employer but in a different area of practice, talk to the head of the department you would like to work in and ask for an opportunity to work on a case in that area. Try to bring in a client in the area you want to work in and ask to co-counsel the case. Bolster your credibility by availing yourself of the aforementioned courses.
Consider the variety of practice areas in which you can work. Underline/highlight the ones which are of interest to you:

Alternate Dispute Resolution
  • Mediation
  • Negotiation
  • Arbitration
Art, Entertainment and Media
  • Motion Pictures
  • Sports
  • Music
  • Computer Art/Graphics Press
  • TV and Radio Cable television
  • Art and Theater
  • Recreation/Leisure
  • Communication
  • Culture
  • Libel
  • Literary Property
  • First Amendment Video
Business Law
  • Banking Corporations
  • Securities Regulation Bankruptcy Corporate
  • Finance Admiralty & Maritime Energy
  • Investment Banking
  • Utilities
  • Industrial
  • Reorganization
  • Mergers
  • Commodities Trade
  • Regulation Unfair
  • Competition Oil & Gas Mining
  • Natural Resources
  • Advertising
  • Insurance
  • Foreign Trade
  • Economic Development
  • Interstate Commerce
  • Agriculture
Civil Litigation
  • Appellate Litigation
  • Administrative Agencies
  • Practice and Procedure before Personal Injury and Negligence
  • Malpractice
  • Trial Practice and Procedure Products Liability
Consumer Goods and Services
  • General
  • Purchasing
  • Debtor's Rights
  • Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Product Liability
  • Energy
  • Food
  • Corporate Responsibility Utilities
  • Pharmaceuticals
Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Law Trial
  • Criminal Law Appeals
  • Prisoner's Rights
  • Probation and Parole
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Rehabilitation
Employment
  • Worker Safety
  • Equal Employment Collective Bargaining Pension/ERISA Worker's Compensation
  • Employee Benefits
  • Civil Service Labor (Management) Labor (Union) Unemployment
Family Law
  • Adoption
  • Conservatorship
  • Foster
  • Parenting Wills,
  • Trusts
  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Guardianship Settlement of Estates Parent Custody Rights
  • Children's Rights
  • Surrogate Parenting Neglect and Abuse
Health
  • Physical Health
  • AIDS
  • Disabled Persons
  • Health Care Systems
  • Abused Persons
  • Commitment
  • Mental Health
Law Practice
  • Law Office Economics
  • Advertising
  • Paralegal Services
  • Ethics
  • Prepaid Legal Services
  • Legal Clinics
  • Professional Education
  • General Practice
  • Specialization
  • Law Research Materials
  • Recruitment
  • Management
Property Law and Real Estate
  • Architecture
  • Construction
  • Convincing
  • Cooperative
  • Building Codes
  • Condemnation
  • Condominiums
  • Eminent Domain
  • Environmental Law
  • Land Use Shopping Centers Tenant Rights
  • Urban Development
Public Interest/Human Services
  • International Human Rights
  • Civil Rights
  • Civil Liberties
  • Women's Rights
  • Elder Law
  • Minority Rights
  • Community Organizing/ Citizen Action
  • Municipal Affairs Education
  • Legislation
  • Election
  • Youth
  • Urban Affairs
  • Welfare
  • Rural Residents
  • Small Farm Owners
  • Military Justice
  • Veterans
  • Immigration
  • Antitrust
  • Poverty
  • Constitutional
  • Government
  • Disarmament/ Arms Control
  • Environment Disability Law
Science and Technology
  • Aeronautics
  • Engineering
  • Genetics
  • Patent
  • Copyright
  • Trademark
  • Computers
Taxation
  • Income and Other Taxation
  • Estate and Gift Taxation
  • Practice and Administration
  • Federal and State Liaison
As you explore your options, keep three simple rules in mind:
  1. Always trust your own instincts.
  2. Try not to let money completely rule your life.
  3. Motivate yourself.

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