Finding what one should do as a lawyer may depend on two primary assessments. The first will be an external view of the market and the resources available to the new lawyer. The next will be in an internal assessment of one’s talents, goals and inclinations to practice a certain type of law for the near future.
External Assessment of the Market
The first thing will be to look at what jobs and resources are available. That research will allow a new lawyer to determine where additional training on another person’s dime will be available, which can be a tremendous advantage when entering practice. There may be an open position for a public defender. This opportunity will give a new lawyer the chance to enhance trial skills for several years which could be good for litigators, trial experts or any other type of litigation-minded attorney.
Also, the new lawyer should look at opportunities with certain mentors or more experienced attorneys. If a popular attorney in the jurisdiction is offering a position at her firm, this would be an excellent time to use that attorney’s mentorship and knowledge to boost any budding career.
The second analysis should follow the first. It may color the first part of the analysis when determining a niche but the overall first question should be what jobs are available and then where those positions and resources may benefit the young lawyer.
For instance, for those that are deathly afraid of public speaking, a job for 10 years as a litigator might not be the best career choice. Keep in mind, however, that a vast majority of litigators never ever speak in a courtroom in front of anyone except for a firm partner as mentioned in this ABA Podcast. It just depends on the situation in the market.
So, typically, if you do not care at all about criminal law, you would not be excited to be a public defender or prosecutor. Likewise, the attorney that dislikes the idea of working for a corporation, might not work best practicing corporate law for very long.
Finally, the use of networking is also very important. Networking allows a new lawyer to survey the marketplace and provides a good basis for gathering information that might not be widely available. This information is key to finding one’s niche among the available options to a lawyer attempting to find her sweet spot in the legal landscape.