Switching Legal Specialisms
I regularly meet lawyers who are considering changing specialism.
Often, lawyers ‘fall’ into a specialism, perhaps because the firm they qualify with only has two or three departments or because there is only one seat available in one particular department upon qualification. Others become restless in the department they initially opted for and want a new challenge. There may also be greater opportunity for development and progression within other departments, compared with the department that they currently work in which may be laden with lawyers with a similar level of experience and so the route to partnership may seem a distant dream.
Whatever their reasons, the one constant I find is that lawyers often lack the confidence or simply don’t have the knowledge to encourage them to take that leap and transfer to a new specialism. I have therefore created a guide to assist those looking to take on this difficult task.
Stage One, Do Your Research
Once you have decided that you want to change specialism you first need to decide what specialism you want to move in to. Look at your own firm and others and write down the different specialisms on offer. What do you like and dislike about each one? Then write a list of what is most important to you. If you like to be at home at 6pm everyday then mergers and acquisitions is probably not the best place for you. You can then compare the two lists to see which specialism suits you best.
Talk to people who work in other areas, whether that be in your own firm, or other firms to see if they enjoy what they do. Networking and CPD events can be useful venues to talk to others about work without worrying about what outstanding work is currently on your desk. But be careful, none of us are the same and we all enjoy different things.
Gain Work Experience
This is key to changing specialism. Before your current employer or a future employer will consider allowing you to work within a certain specialism they will want to know that you have at least some experience in that field. More importantly, this is the only way that you can judge whether your new chosen field is right for you.
Larger firms offer vacation schemes and internships. A good firm should be keen to keep their best talent so if your firm practices in the specialism you want to change to then speak with them, they may be more accommodating than you might think.
Alternatively, I am fortunate to have strong relationships with a number of firms of all sizes across the south. I can assist you with gaining work experience in different areas.
If you have a number of years of post-qualification experience then you are likely to be reasonably well remunerated. You have to be prepared that when changing specialism you are effectively starting again. You need to be comfortable that there will be a short term reduction in your salary so that you can move into your preferred role.
Finding a Position
I am happy to discuss changing specialisms with anyone. I can assist with assessing your strengths and skills and highlighting these appropriately in your CV so it stands out to employers within your chosen specialism.
Always available to offer advice to ambitious legal professionals, contact ASH Elite today for personalised support on switching your specialism.