Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

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Nestico87
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Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby Nestico87 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:26 pm

In your opinion, what are the most enjoyable areas of law to practice?

For example, I have spoken with several personal injury lawyers who hate their job because of the high stress level. On the other hand, the estate and probate attorneys I have visited with enjoy their job because they get to interact with their clients face to face in a relatively low stress environment. Additionally, if you practice in a huge corporate law firm you will get a fat wallet, but the required billable hours are insane, and for some associate lawyers they become little more than a cog in a machine.

So, in your opinion, what areas of law seem to be generally more enjoyable than others? Or, in other words, what areas of law are you interested in practicing and why?

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SteelReserve
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Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby SteelReserve » Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:37 pm

Interesting. I suppose your mileage may vary, but I work at a large personal injury firm and the lawyers enjoy their jobs. Not much court work but as a plaintiffs' firm, they have excellent hours except during trial, which almost never happens. These guys rake in tremendous sums while working "normal" work hours, though admittedly they are at the top of the PI game and not some solo shop doing slip and trips for 10k settlements.

That being said, most law is quite stressful and time consuming and you need to figure out whether litigation or transactional work is for you. Oh and you should also figure out where the jobs are, because those are rather hard to come by these days in case you haven't heard.

I know several worker's comp attorneys that make decent money and enjoy their jobs. Again, little to no court work there and hours can be good.

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biggamejames
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Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby biggamejames » Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:59 pm

If someone will hire you to do it, pure appellate work seems like the coolest.

As a backup, I'd take public defender/prosecutor. Court is fun.

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deneuve39
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Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby deneuve39 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:42 am

I've heard that Tax and Trusts and Estates tend to be a little easier on the hours. The downside is there's less flexibility (to go in-house or into government) later on in your career than with a practice area like general commercial lit or general corporate.

NYAssociate
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Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby NYAssociate » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:59 am

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Last edited by NYAssociate on Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pandacot
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Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby pandacot » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:09 am

NYAssociate wrote:Tax is also an extremely difficult area to practice in. The people I know who are tax lawyers tend to be the most intelligent attorneys I've met.


What makes tax so difficult? Just the ridiculousness of the tax code or?

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clintonius
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Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby clintonius » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:45 am

pandacot wrote:
NYAssociate wrote:Tax is also an extremely difficult area to practice in. The people I know who are tax lawyers tend to be the most intelligent attorneys I've met.
What makes tax so difficult? Just the ridiculousness of the tax code or?

I've been curious about this, as well. I worked as a non-legal at a V10 and the monthly associate newsletter features pretty regular quasi-jokes about how most people at the firm weren't smart enough to practice in tax law.

BobSacamano
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Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby BobSacamano » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:49 am

All of my friends who are working at PI firms this summer are having a blast and so are the lawyers. It's interesting work (power tool injuries!), the cases are varied, they get to interact with clients, and they get to go to court often.

If only they paid well out of school...

CanadianWolf
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Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:52 am

Personal Injury lawyers seem to be the most satisfied.

Anonymous User
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Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:53 am

clintonius wrote:
pandacot wrote:
NYAssociate wrote:Tax is also an extremely difficult area to practice in. The people I know who are tax lawyers tend to be the most intelligent attorneys I've met.
What makes tax so difficult? Just the ridiculousness of the tax code or?

I've been curious about this, as well. I worked as a non-legal at a V10 and the monthly associate newsletter features pretty regular quasi-jokes about how most people at the firm weren't smart enough to practice in tax law.


I worked in a complex biglaw tax environment this summer. For any given issue, you have to consult the following:

1) The Internal Revenue Code (it's ~2 phonebooks in size)
2) The treasury regulations (which clarify and "interpret" the code, often in ways that would be deeply unintuitive) (it's ~6 small phonebooks in size)
3) IRS guidance, notices, private letter rulings (can't be relied on as precedent), FAQs, and publications
4) Any case law interpreting various provisions of the code. Keep in mind there are tax courts plus tax disputes occurring with all other cases in federal jurisdictions.

After that, you have to know that the Code isn't just big, it's complex as all holy hell. There are a few reasons for this, but chiefly it has to do with the fact that it's constantly being updated. That presents two problems: The first is that "tax law" is a shifting target, Congress authorizes or expands or contracts or allows to lapse provisions at an alarming rate, even before the Treasury and the court system start monkeying around with it. The second is that by revising as they go, the provisions become needlessly arcane. A good example would be a section that imposes a tax, then has 20 exceptions, and then each exception will have sub-exceptions (so an exception to an exception winds up not being an exception; double negative FTW) with all of those various provisions potentially having the above mentioned regulations / guidance to go along with them.

Then in terms of practicing tax law, there's a whole new framework of rules for resolving disputes with the IRS (under revenue procedures) and a level of practice interfacing with the treasury / IRS that doesn't exist in other practice areas.

Finally, tax work has a lot of complex "but where do we draw the line!?" type problems. If Congress has decided that they want to incentivize a certain kind of insurance product, or transaction, or hiring practice, they'll try to draft language that as narrowly as possible provides tax benefits to that transaction. But Congress sucks at everything it does, so they'll often be under or over-inclusive, vague, ambiguous, use different terms in different places, etc. that just leaves a minefield for a practicing attorney.

That being said, its difficulty is probably exaggerated. People who are "smart" are probably also more interested in the complexities of interlocking code provisions and arcane statutory interpretation, so it may draw "egg head" type personalities even if anybody could do it if they felt like it, you know?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:55 am, edited 4 times in total.

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merichard87
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Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby merichard87 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:54 am

This question will be highly subjective but I have some family members who work in criminal and sports law and absolutely love it. They have their own firm so they set their own hours and only take the cases they choose to take.

Personally, I would love to work in copyrights/trademarks/licensing/contracts for a consumer or fashion brand aka Fashion Law and then moving into public relations/marketing stuff. I'm also interested in White Collar Criminal.

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clintonius
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Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby clintonius » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:
clintonius wrote:
pandacot wrote:
NYAssociate wrote:Tax is also an extremely difficult area to practice in. The people I know who are tax lawyers tend to be the most intelligent attorneys I've met.
What makes tax so difficult? Just the ridiculousness of the tax code or?
I've been curious about this, as well. I worked as a non-legal at a V10 and the monthly associate newsletter features pretty regular quasi-jokes about how most people at the firm weren't smart enough to practice in tax law.
I worked in a complex biglaw tax environment this summer. For any given issue, you have to consult the following:

1) The Internal Revenue Code (it's ~2 phonebooks in size)
2) The treasury regulations (which clarify and "interpret" the code, often in ways that would be deeply unintuitive) (it's ~6 small phonebooks in size)
3) IRS guidance, notices, private letter rulings (can't be relied on as precedent), FAQs, and publications
4) Any case law interpreting various provisions of the code. Keep in mind there are tax courts plus tax disputes occurring with all other cases in federal jurisdictions.

After that, you have to know that the Code isn't just big, it's complex as all holy hell. There are a few reasons for this, but chiefly it has to do with the fact that it's constantly being updated. That presents two problems: The first is that "tax law" is a shifting target, Congress authorizes or expands or contracts or allows to lapse provisions at an alarming rate, even before the Treasury and the court system start monkeying around with it. The second is that by revising as they go, the provisions become needlessly arcane. A good example would be a section that imposes a tax, then has 20 exceptions, and then each exception will have sub-exceptions (so an exception to an exception winds up not being an exception; double negative FTW) with all of those various provisions potentially having the above mentioned regulations / guidance to go along with them.

Then in terms of practicing tax law, there's a whole new framework of rules for resolving disputes with the IRS (under revenue procedures) and a level of practice interfacing with the treasury / IRS that doesn't exist in other practice areas.

Finally, tax work has a lot of complex "but where do we draw the line!?" type problems. If Congress has decided that they want to incentivize a certain kind of insurance product, or transaction, or hiring practice, they'll try to draft language that as narrowly as possible provides tax benefits to that transaction. But Congress sucks at everything it does, so they'll often be under or over-inclusive, vague, ambiguous, use different terms in different places, etc. that just leaves a minefield for a practicing attorney.

That being said, its difficulty is probably exaggerated. People who are "smart" are probably also more interested in the complexities of interlocking code provisions and arcane statutory interpretation, so it may draw "egg head" type personalities even if anybody could do it if they felt like it, you know?
That was supremely helpful. Thanks so much!

pandacot
Posts: 167
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:39 pm

Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby pandacot » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I worked in a complex biglaw tax environment this summer. For any given issue, you have to consult the following:

1) The Internal Revenue Code (it's ~2 phonebooks in size)
2) The treasury regulations (which clarify and "interpret" the code, often in ways that would be deeply unintuitive) (it's ~6 small phonebooks in size)
3) IRS guidance, notices, private letter rulings (can't be relied on as precedent), FAQs, and publications
4) Any case law interpreting various provisions of the code. Keep in mind there are tax courts plus tax disputes occurring with all other cases in federal jurisdictions.

After that, you have to know that the Code isn't just big, it's complex as all holy hell. There are a few reasons for this, but chiefly it has to do with the fact that it's constantly being updated. That presents two problems: The first is that "tax law" is a shifting target, Congress authorizes or expands or contracts or allows to lapse provisions at an alarming rate, even before the Treasury and the court system start monkeying around with it. The second is that by revising as they go, the provisions become needlessly arcane. A good example would be a section that imposes a tax, then has 20 exceptions, and then each exception will have sub-exceptions (so an exception to an exception winds up not being an exception; double negative FTW) with all of those various provisions potentially having the above mentioned regulations / guidance to go along with them.

Then in terms of practicing tax law, there's a whole new framework of rules for resolving disputes with the IRS (under revenue procedures) and a level of practice interfacing with the treasury / IRS that doesn't exist in other practice areas.

Finally, tax work has a lot of complex "but where do we draw the line!?" type problems. If Congress has decided that they want to incentivize a certain kind of insurance product, or transaction, or hiring practice, they'll try to draft language that as narrowly as possible provides tax benefits to that transaction. But Congress sucks at everything it does, so they'll often be under or over-inclusive, vague, ambiguous, use different terms in different places, etc. that just leaves a minefield for a practicing attorney.

That being said, its difficulty is probably exaggerated. People who are "smart" are probably also more interested in the complexities of interlocking code provisions and arcane statutory interpretation, so it may draw "egg head" type personalities even if anybody could do it if they felt like it, you know?


I second that -- great post.

Tax was the only area of my MSAccountancy that I enjoyed.

Anon Tax Guy -- What is your background (accounting degree/work experience) in tax? Michigan is supposed to have a well respected tax program, and I was thinking of looking into classes. I wasn't sure if not having work experience would be a huge hindrance. Thoughts?

Anonymous User
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Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:27 pm

pandacot wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I worked in a complex biglaw tax environment this summer. For any given issue, you have to consult the following:

1) The Internal Revenue Code (it's ~2 phonebooks in size)
2) The treasury regulations (which clarify and "interpret" the code, often in ways that would be deeply unintuitive) (it's ~6 small phonebooks in size)
3) IRS guidance, notices, private letter rulings (can't be relied on as precedent), FAQs, and publications
4) Any case law interpreting various provisions of the code. Keep in mind there are tax courts plus tax disputes occurring with all other cases in federal jurisdictions.

After that, you have to know that the Code isn't just big, it's complex as all holy hell. There are a few reasons for this, but chiefly it has to do with the fact that it's constantly being updated. That presents two problems: The first is that "tax law" is a shifting target, Congress authorizes or expands or contracts or allows to lapse provisions at an alarming rate, even before the Treasury and the court system start monkeying around with it. The second is that by revising as they go, the provisions become needlessly arcane. A good example would be a section that imposes a tax, then has 20 exceptions, and then each exception will have sub-exceptions (so an exception to an exception winds up not being an exception; double negative FTW) with all of those various provisions potentially having the above mentioned regulations / guidance to go along with them.

Then in terms of practicing tax law, there's a whole new framework of rules for resolving disputes with the IRS (under revenue procedures) and a level of practice interfacing with the treasury / IRS that doesn't exist in other practice areas.

Finally, tax work has a lot of complex "but where do we draw the line!?" type problems. If Congress has decided that they want to incentivize a certain kind of insurance product, or transaction, or hiring practice, they'll try to draft language that as narrowly as possible provides tax benefits to that transaction. But Congress sucks at everything it does, so they'll often be under or over-inclusive, vague, ambiguous, use different terms in different places, etc. that just leaves a minefield for a practicing attorney.

That being said, its difficulty is probably exaggerated. People who are "smart" are probably also more interested in the complexities of interlocking code provisions and arcane statutory interpretation, so it may draw "egg head" type personalities even if anybody could do it if they felt like it, you know?


I second that -- great post.

Tax was the only area of my MSAccountancy that I enjoyed.

Anon Tax Guy -- What is your background (accounting degree/work experience) in tax? Michigan is supposed to have a well respected tax program, and I was thinking of looking into classes. I wasn't sure if not having work experience would be a huge hindrance. Thoughts?


Anon tax guy here: I had 0 tax background. I haven't even taken tax :lol: Demonstrating interest is important, but nobody I worked with had an accounting background. Big law tax is much less about the numbers and much more about the policy and the legal arguments - fitting statutes together, structuring deals and products correctly, etc. That tax is all about April 15th and math is a huge misconception here and elsewhere. Tax is still quite technical, but it's not technical like that.

pandacot
Posts: 167
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:39 pm

Re: Most Enjoyable Areas of Law to Practice

Postby pandacot » Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Anon tax guy here: I had 0 tax background. I haven't even taken tax :lol: Demonstrating interest is important, but nobody I worked with had an accounting background. Big law tax is much less about the numbers and much more about the policy and the legal arguments - fitting statutes together, structuring deals and products correctly, etc. That tax is all about April 15th and math is a huge misconception here and elsewhere. Tax is still quite technical, but it's not technical like that.


Thanks!




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