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Mixing Legal Specialties

When hiring a lawyer, many people look for specific types–real estate lawyers, personal injury lawyers, etc. They think about lawyers as fitting into neat categories. However, often reality is more complicated than that, and individual lawyers will work in a variety of related fields. This week, we want to find out more about mixing specialties, and how lawyers mix and match to find the areas of law that are best matched to them.

Why we’re asking:

Like most professions, there is a lot more to a legal career than meets the eye, and the average layman doesn’t realize how wide a single lawyer’s area of specialty might be. Balancing more than one type of law career can be a challenge, but attorneys do it more often than not, which is why we want to get an inside perspective on mixing specialties.

Professionals, share your thoughts below:

What are your specialties?

How did you settle on the fields you work with? How do they interact?

What specialties typically go together in the legal world?

What are the most disparate specialties you’ve ever seen a single attorney work in?

Are there any specialty combinations that work against one another?

The legal profession is an expansive one, and individual attorneys often have to stretch themselves and work in many different areas of it. We look forward to hearing about how your varied legal focuses work in your professional life.

Please post your answers in the comment field below!

  • Christina Scott 04/02/14

    Family Law cases often involve bankruptcy and even criminal issues. We often see cases where one party files for bankruptcy during divorce or after. It is important for the bankruptcy attorney to know about the divorce proceedings. Sometimes divorce cases involve allegations of abuse which can lead to criminal investigation and charging. A criminal attorney is needed for these matters. My firm handles both family law and criminal matters and there is quite a bit of overlap.

  • Steven D. Pattee 04/02/14

    How did you settle on the fields you work with? How do they interact?

    Part of it was based upon my interests as I began practicing, and part was based upon the types of clients that found me when I opened my own office. When I graduated from law school, I wanted to be a trial attorney, so I looked for jobs that focused on litigation and worked for nine years as an insurance defense attorney. Then I opened my own firm in the suburb where I live. After tracking referrals that I sent out for a year or two, I decided that I would re-educate myself on estate planning and the drafting of wills and trusts because that seemed to be an area of need in my community. At this point I focus my practice on litigation matters for businesses and individuals and estate planning.

    What specialties typically go together in the legal world?

    I generally would expect transactional types of work to group together and litigation/courtroom work to group together. Not everyone wants to work in a courtroom, and those that do enjoy it tend to focus on it. Beyond that, I think lawyers tend to focus their practice on areas that interest them due to their background or education. There are some overlapping areas such as estate planning and probate; however, I do not see any two areas of law that are truly mutually exclusive.

    What are the most disparate specialties you’ve ever seen a single attorney work in?

    I cannot say I’ve seen an attorney practicing in two areas that simply did not seem to reconcile. All legal work falls back on an attorney’s ability to recognize and analyze a given legal issue and properly advise a client when broken down to it’s simplest form.

    Are there any specialty combinations that work against one another?

    I would not expect an attorney that prosecutes for a municipality to defend someone being prosecuted by another municipality. The attorney’s knowledge may make them very good at doing so, but clients often prefer you to not represent clients that require you to take positions against contrary to those taken when you represent them.

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