In my last post I looked at How To Identify The Practice Areas You’re Most Interested In. It’s essential reading if you want to avoid being one of the large number of unsuccessful applicants.
In this post I explain what you must learn about the practice areas when doing your research so you can identify those areas you’re most interested in.
This will help you start to filter down the list of practice areas to a manageable size and ensure you are making informed decisions along the way.
What To Focus On During Your Research Into Practice Areas
As a minimum, I recommend you focus on developing your understanding of the following:
- Scope of Work – read the descriptions of ALL the different practice areas. What does the work entail? Which types of clients would you work with? What would you do day to day if working in each area?
- Where To Do The Work – develop your understanding of the different types of law firms, companies or other organisations where you could work with the different areas of law.
- Who Does The Work – develop your understanding of the different types of lawyer in each practice area and the different skill-sets required by different practice areas. Reading lawyer profiles, interviews with them and articles written by them across the range of practice areas will help with this.
What To Note During This Research Into Practice Areas
When you are reviewing this information you should be noting the following, amongst other things:
- Skills & Competencies – note skills and competencies needed for each practice area – what would it pay to have strengths in? Then reflect on whether you have them or have an interest in developing them going forward.
- Where Would You Fit In – note the sort of work and lawyers you identify with most and why. What resonates most with you? Which types of lawyers do you see as most like you? What sort of work and lawyers share your values?. By spending time thinking about this you are much more likely to apply to a firm with which you are the right fit – thereby greatly increasing your chances.
- Latest News & Developments – reviewing all of these practice areas is a great way to build your commercial awareness and general knowledge about the legal profession and commercial world. Many of the resources recommended in my previous post give a great overview of current issues in each area. This will be gold to you as an applicant, and hopefully as an interviewee at a later stage.
Time Well Spent
So hopefully you can see time spent researching practice areas to build up that basic understanding is time extremely well spent.
In my experience, if you do this research and focus on the core knowledge above you will stand a much better chance of being invited to interview than if you don’t.
I know there will still be some of you who won’t do this because you think you know enough already. But those of you who spend the time on this may well find you put yourself ahead of those who don’t when it comes to the queue for vacation schemes and training contracts.
Image: Sue Richards