·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary


Which Area of Law is Right for You?

— July 29, 2021

Maybe you start practicing personal injury due to moderate interest, but when you get introduced to something much more interesting and perhaps rewarding, don’t be afraid to pursue that career or change direction.

Depending on what you’re currently studying, this particular question might have popped into your head once or twice – namely, which area of law is the right one for you to go into? First of all, it goes without saying that you won’t get the answer to this question via some online quiz. 

So, that first result on Google won’t be a lot of help, sadly. Why? Well, because love for an area of the field of law is not innate. You grow it over the years and, even if you might not like a certain area of law at first, due to various reasons, you might end up loving it.

As an example, Albany has the highest number of lawyers per 1000 population in the state of New York. However, we’re more than certain that any Albany personal injury lawyer, or at least most of those in New York didn’t consider personal injury as their favorite specialty at first!

The Basics

First and foremost, finding which area of law is right for you means more than writing each area down on a piece of paper and then choosing the one you like the look of most. After all, the law itself is much more complex.

Moreover, there won’t be just one single area of law that might be the perfect fit for you, even if you answer yes to all the questions that imply you should go into a personal injury career, for example. In short, we encourage the exploration of all of the areas within the law – don’t settle on your first choice!

Is It Enjoyable?

Naturally, the thing that will make your job and career feel like a walk in the park is whether you’ll enjoy what you do or not. Enjoyment is the perfect foundation for motivation and interest – always remember that!

Even if you’re not interested in law overall, you’ll still be able to choose between corporate, litigation, business, and family law, for example. You can decide what you enjoy the most and then base your decision on that instinct. 

Does It Suit You?

First, find out what you like most and then see if it suits you and your personal traits, characteristics, and so on. If you hate the aftermath of a crime, then a criminal defense lawyer position might be too much for you.

On the other hand, introverts and quiet people tend to find more joy in tax law, as this position limits interaction. But how do you know which traits are required by which position?

Well, to be short, talking with a practicing lawyer helps a lot. On top of that, most of them are more than happy to answer your questions or emails.

Academic Background Might Be Important

Most areas of law do not require specific academic background. Usually, once you finish law school and start a contract, you will receive training for a specific position. However, some positions might become easier to land if you have some prior training, so to speak.

For example, a future business lawyer will definitely have an easier time understanding their job if they have a background in business or economics. The same applies to criminal/forensic lawyers, where a background in biology, for instance, could help.

The basic rule is that the more complex the area of law the more requirements it might have, including a specific academic background.

Firm versus Independent Practice

Independent practice means that, once you get your degree, you can open your own office and practice law on your own. Personal injury lawyers usually choose this way of operating, so to speak.

However, if you want to be a part of a large law firm, then you might need to gain some other skills. For example, particular firms require finance and corporate law knowledge as part of your CV. If you lack such expertise, they won’t consider your application.

Corporate versus High Street Law Firms

If you decide that you want to work in a firm, you also have to determine whether you’d like to work for major corporations or for individuals and their needs. Working in a corporate law firm usually implies teams of lawyers that work towards the same purpose – with credits often being given to one of the partners or experienced lawyers.

High street law firms, on the other hand, deal with the average individual more. In such a firm, you’ll have the chance to practice personal injury, criminal law, probate, family law, and so on yourself. 

Work-Life Balance

It goes without saying that areas such as corporate law will most likely come with no actual work-life balance. When you’re in a team of lawyers working for a multinational company, you must be available almost 24/7. If you’re ready to endure this, or the thought of dedicating yourself completely to your career excites you, then you should really give corporate a shot.

Woman using smartphone; image by Priscilla Du Preez, via
Woman using smartphone; image by Priscilla Du Preez, via

However, if you love balance and don’t want to give up on your personal life, then a less demanding area would be more ideal for you. Namely, anything besides corporate, criminal, and complex litigation would be a better choice. 

On the other hand, be aware that all the areas of law will, more or less, intrude on your personal life. This is, of course, influenced by the degree to which your area has you interact with your clients. If a situation requires you to be up and ready to assist a client in the middle of the night, then there’s not much that you can do about it.

The Bottom Line

The spectrum of law is more than just wide and diverse. To say that there are a lot of areas in law is an understatement. Moreover, to say that choosing a law area is easy is quite simply incorrect. Most lawyers don’t find out which area suits them best until after a couple of years of doing what they think is best for them.

This would be the basis for another piece of advice. Namely, don’t settle on the first area that you practice. Maybe you start practicing personal injury due to moderate interest, but when you get introduced to something much more interesting and perhaps rewarding, don’t be afraid to pursue that career or change direction.

It’s no secret that lawyers can have multiple specializations and do pretty much what they want!

Join the conversation!