Law school taught you more than you may realize about your work habits. Did you study alone or in groups? Read at home or in the library? Learn best by reading, discussing, or observing? Prepare methodically in advance, or cram the night before the test?
Similar observations will help you choose a practice area that fits your temperament and work style. For example, consider:
- Hours – what time of day are you most productive? How well do you handle interruptions, emergencies and changes to your schedule?
- Travel—do you enjoy it or endure it?
- Location—Where’s your “thinking spot”?
- Type of work—are you most comfortable presenting, listening, thinking, writing?
- Working with colleagues—love it or hate it? Extraverts get energy being with others, while introverts energize when alone.
- Competition or collaboration—which motivates you most?
- Clientele—are there people and problems that inspire you, or ones that turn you off?
Once you understand your work style, talking with a mentor can help you identify practice areas that fit. For example:
- Are you comfortable handling emotional clients with empathy and compassion? These abilities are critical in family law, estate planning, and probate, among others.
- Are you organized, yet able to work well with those who are less-organized? Clients going through bankruptcy may need the help of someone like you.
- Are you excited at the prospect of going to court? Criminal defense, family, and personal injury lawyers have frequent stand-up opportunities.
- Are you a night owl who can be accessible to clients 24/7? This may be an asset in certain kinds of practices, for example criminal defense.
- Are you turned on by collaboration rather than competition? Transactional practice, mediation, or collaborative family law may be especially rewarding.
- Are you inspired by a particular clientele, for example, children, the elderly, veterans, or workers in a particular industry? You may be ideally suited to build a practice based on their needs.
When considering where to start a solo practice, your work style is an asset not to be wasted—finding a practice area that complements it, and avoiding ones that don’t, will help you work efficiently and sustainably with less friction in your personal life.
Experienced solos: what makes your practice area a good fit for you?
By Karin Ciano
Image courtesy of pakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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