“An expert is someone who knows a lot about the past.”Tom Hopkins.
Trying to work out what you are ultimately going to do with your law degree is an exciting, open world of many possibilities. Should you decide to pursue a career in the legal profession, it’s quite likely you’ll end up specialising in one area of law. It’s something that most legal professionals eventually do – and for good reason! This article breaks down some of the reasons lawyers decide to specialise in the profession.
There’s always demand for specialist lawyers
Legal problems are often complex and no two are the same. It’s no surprise, therefore, that clients are always looking for an expert in the law relating to their problem – right down to the niche, minute details. There will always be someone, for example, trying to locate a ‘truck accident lawyer in Tampa‘, or a ‘copyright lawyer in Hong Kong’ for their case. Providing you specialise in an area of law niche enough to draw attention from clients, yet broad enough for them to be a large enough number of them, you’ll almost certainly have clients needing help with their specific problem. As such, there’s not too much to worry about when it comes to ensuring there’s enough clients out there to work with.
You’ll get (really) good at what you do
It’s no surprise that the more you know about a specific area of the law, the more effective you will be in advising clients. When you specialise, being able to understand, analyse (and hopefully win) your cases will become easier. Being able to identify common patterns and crossovers between past cases and your current ones are hallmark skills of an experienced, specialised lawyer. Ultimately, the more cases you win, the greater the demand will be for your services. This helps your raise your own profile and reputation within the industry, potentially meaning you can hold yourself out to a higher standard and as such charge a higher rate.
The chance to do work that interests you
Specialising enables you to always be working on things that interest you. Specialising helps give yourself more of a say over the tasks you’re doing, so that you’re ultimately doing more of what you enjoy and less of what you don’t. You’ll have more control over what topics of law you really enjoy, versus those you don’t. Simple!
You can make more of a difference
When you specialise, you get the opportunity to dig deeper into a subject, more so than a general solicitor would who is only glossing over it. Once you become knowledgeable enough in a subject of law, it is likely you will start to notice things that others have missed more frequently and much sooner. You will find new ways to win cases for your clients, or at least to help get the outcome they want. Eventually, you’ll have the opportunity for other legal professionals to follow your example, or to mentor others. You might even contribute to society more generally. For example, if you specialise in helping people appeal against benefit rejections, your cases are testament to the fact that the system is not working. The notion that big legislative changes only happen in the realms of human or civil rights law aren’t true – there’s opportunities to enact real change in almost any area of law!
It builds your reputation
It is seriously difficult to stand out from the crowd when you generalise. The work that you do is much less likely to be noticed by others for its (lack of) niche element. When you specialise, the opposite happens. It is far easier for people to understand what you have to offer and how you personally provide that value with your expertise. For some lawyers, it can be the make-or-break of their personal brand.
Specialising is great for networking
This follows on from the previous point. When others in the legal industry have an issue that relates to your specialist area, there is a good chance they will turn to you for guidance. This is a fantastic way to build your network – something that can only help your career.
The chance to speak publicly on the subject
Finally, building on from the networking point – if you want to fast track your career, making yourself available to speak at events is a great way to do it. When you do this, your profile will raise significantly and people will (hopefully!) learn from what you have to say.
If you’re still not sure what specialisation is all about, you can check out this article for some further reading.