What are the Practice Areas that Might be Hiring Now?

by Hillary Mantis

It makes a lot of sense in this turbulent job market to try and focus on practice areas that might actually be hiring. Certain practice areas, such as litigation, criminal law, and family law, always seem to be somewhat in demand. Other areas, such as real estate and bankruptcy law, are more cyclical.

Some areas are emerging right now as hot areas. How do you find out what they are?

You can read the legal news here and in other publications. But start by reading Robert Denney’s What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession (www.robertdenney.com), to learn about growth areas. 

According to Denney’s report, here’s what is hot right now:
-Energy (Denney says the “shale rush” has revitalized the natural gas industry)
-Financial Services (In part due to bank failures, Dodd Frank, and internet commerce)
-Regulatory Work (At the federal level, this is due to health care reform and the EPA)
-Health Care (Denney predicts health care and the insurance industry will be “red hot”)
-Intellectual Property (due to the increase in patent, copyright, and trademark infringement suits)

We will be profiling one of these hot practice areas every month - starting with health care. 

Like practice areas, hot geographic areas can fluctuate tremendously. New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami have all been dominant in the market. But some geographic areas are attracting new business right now. The report also analyzed these “hot” geographic areas:
-U.S.:  Houston, Pittsburgh, and yes, North Dakota (Denney cites the “shale rush” as the reason.)
-International: Brazil, Latin America, and North Korea

What can you do to try and market yourself in these areas? First of all, you can keep up with the legal and financial news to make sure these predicted growth areas actually continue to be hot.  You can also take classes and externships in these areas while in law school. It’s all too easy to focus in law school on just making it through, rather than looking towards the future.  If you are able to position yourself before you graduate in a specialty that turns out to be hot, all the better.

If you have already graduated, you can take CLE’s in emerging practice areas, and network with lawyers in these areas. You can also join bar association committees in these practice areas.

Hillary Mantis advises law students and lawyers with their careers, as well as serving as a Pre-law advisor to undergraduate students. She is the author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers. You can write to Hillary at:  altcareer@aol.com