importance of having a preferred practice area

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Anonymous User
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importance of having a preferred practice area

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:27 pm

I am starting to write cover letters and starting to interview at firms and I still don't know what kind of law I want to practice. Honestly, I don't really know how anyone could at this point, as the 1L classes don't really give us much insight. I guess we did a little bit of labor/employment contract stuff in LRW. And my summer job is all about real-estate law.

How important is expressing a specific interest for getting a firm job? I can talk about real-estate and eminent domain, but I don't think it is what I want to do long term. On the other hand, I feel like telling employers that I am not sure what kind of law I want to practice shows indecisiveness. Any advice?

Anonymous User
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Re: importance of having a preferred practice area

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:42 pm

I think for the purposes of OCI, firms like to get a general sense of where you will fit within the summer class and where you might want to go in the firm. I know my firm looks for a given percentage of corporate to litigation, and that percentage varies firm by firm. For OCI, I would pick the one that you think is most likely and stick with it. Get the NALP guide to legal practice areas

http://www.nalp.org/productDetail/?productID=69

so that you can converse intelligently about what draws you to different disciplines. I hedged a little, I knew I wanted to go to a corporate department but that book helped me have a better sense of what M&A lawyers do all day vs. say, derivatives lawyers.

For cover letters, I would talk about the firm's strongest practice areas and why you find them compelling. Just my $0.02

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unlicensedpotato
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Re: importance of having a preferred practice area

Postby unlicensedpotato » Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:43 pm

You should have a couple of specific areas to discuss in an interview. You don't have to be certain about anything. But, coming in and saying "litigation could be a good fit because I like writing, but transactional could be a good fit because I'm interested in finance" makes you look worse than indecisive, it makes you look lazy and like you have no idea what you're talking about.

+1 to showing an interest in the firm's strongest practice areas

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Re: importance of having a preferred practice area

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:55 pm

OP here. Thanks for the advice, I just purchased that book. As far as cover letters go, you guys suggest talking about their strong practice area. But their website doesn't seem to help with this. Most of them say something to the effect of "A full service law firm" and then lists 20 practice areas. Sorry if this is basic stuff, I just kind of feel lost all of a sudden.

Anonymous User
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Re: importance of having a preferred practice area

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:07 pm

firm's strongest practice area can be a harder thing to discern, I would talk to your schools OCS, older law students, and if possible, alums in the industry / region to determine who is leading in what in your area. If you're looking at big NYC shops or something, things like Chambers & Associates can be a valuable resource.

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Re: importance of having a preferred practice area

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:11 pm

Op again. Thanks this is for a smaller market. think regional big/mid law. I guess its gonna be an uphill battle.

Randomnumbers
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Re: importance of having a preferred practice area

Postby Randomnumbers » Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:19 pm

Lots of firms have the pratice areas listed in the NALP directory, and you can determine what areas are strong for that office by seeing how many attorneys and partners are in that area. For example, if you are interviewing with Skadden in Wilmington, DE, you can go to: http://www.nalpdirectory.com/employer_p ... dden%22%7D and see what they have. If you don't want to do bankruptcy or M&A or the related litigation, it's pretty obvious by looking at the lawyer distribution that you won't do well there.




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