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Future profitable fields for small shops

Hey all practicing attorneys. Incoming 2L here in the Phi hunter147708/15/18
If you run across any, let us know. ;-) jeffm08/15/18
Haha I'll translate that to "pick one, be good at your job a hunter147708/15/18
Marijuana law is a budding industry. Large firms are starti jd4hire08/15/18
Profitability is less about the specific legal field (to som superttthero08/15/18
Thanks for the insight. I'm more the type to keep costs and hunter147708/15/18
Great to be thinking ahead, but the areas you rattled off ar jd4hire08/15/18
The first question is: are you looking to solo right off the dingbat08/15/18
Thanks for taking the time to respond. I'm looking to go hunter147708/15/18
then your first priority should be getting job offers. Once dingbat08/15/18
I wish I knew OP. I started in-house and then started pr isthisit08/15/18
hunter1477 (Aug 15, 2018 - 12:39 pm)

Hey all practicing attorneys.

Incoming 2L here in the Philadelphia area and starting to investigate potential specializations. Given that you're all out in the battlefield, I was wondering if you could give me some insight on any emerging, highly profitable disciplines for small shops that might not be your usual PI, Family, Employment etc.

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jeffm (Aug 15, 2018 - 12:46 pm)

If you run across any, let us know. ;-)

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hunter1477 (Aug 15, 2018 - 12:52 pm)

Haha I'll translate that to "pick one, be good at your job and hope for a break." That's what I was thinking but thanks.

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jd4hire (Aug 15, 2018 - 1:04 pm)

Marijuana law is a budding industry. Large firms are starting to go all in to get a piece. There are a lot of people scrapping to get the clients in this area.

Health care and technology-related transactional support and litigation are both in high demand.

Google around as I know I've seen various growth charts for different aspects of the law in ABA publications. My recollection is that the predicted growth was based largely (if not entirely) on surveys to ABA members.

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superttthero (Aug 15, 2018 - 1:08 pm)

Profitability is less about the specific legal field (to some degree) and more about your business model.

You either need to start with (1) a low budget, keeping cost as low as you possibly can while you slowly build your reputation, contacts, referral base from other attorneys in complimentary areas and professionals in the community, family, and grow your expertise, or (2) massive ad budget and an office model of passing as much work as you can to lower paid attorney and even more so to lower paid support staff--basically running a mill while avoiding bar complaints.

You would be surprised how most practice areas can be adapted to both models.

There isn't going to be a "field" that's going to pop-up in the future that you're going to get a jump on any more than you're going to get a jump on how that field will do in the stock market. Even something, like say, "elder law" will just get crowded with Wills and Estate and Litigation/Injury/Malpractice people moving in to the space. Someone above said marijuana--well, today Constellation (the owners of Corona beer) invested $4 billion into Canopy Growth--that highlights how that space is going to be gobbled up by current liquor and drug practices, mostly in biglaw/midlaw.

I'm not trying to shoot you down, but saying you should focus more on trying to figure out what areas allow you (and your personal skill sets) to meet the need of the community where you want to practice. Or figure out where your current connections can possibly get you the most referrals early on. Things like that are going to be more important than trying to read the tea leaves to figure out an "emerging, highly profitable discipline."

Others may disagree with me.

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hunter1477 (Aug 15, 2018 - 3:33 pm)

Thanks for the insight. I'm more the type to keep costs and budgets low. You know, the type with the office that you'll work past if you're not paying attention.

Throughout 1L and this summer I've been very aggressive in building contacts and beginning to establish what will one day be a referral base with classmates, upperclassmen, practicing alumni, and others. I've focused on MedMal (plaintiffs side), pharmaceutical and medical device liability, and vaccine cases. I'm very passionate about all of these. Of course there's a lot of competition but a strong referral base and doing the work well, with a break here and there, should equate to a very healthy practice. But I don't know much at all. That's why I'm here.

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jd4hire (Aug 15, 2018 - 4:58 pm)

Great to be thinking ahead, but the areas you rattled off are extremely cost intensive. My firm routinely drops 50 - 100k in expenses long before a settlement or verdict for a med mal case.

Sure there are those that don't get that high, but they are the exception, not the rule.

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dingbat (Aug 15, 2018 - 4:46 pm)

The first question is: are you looking to solo right off the bat, or work for someone else?

If you're looking to work for someone else, it's ridiculous to specialize now. Larger firms prefer someone who is open, because they don't know what their needs are going to be, and you can specialize down the line. Small shops want someone interested in their field, so just appear like you're specializing whatever job you're applying to, and fake it until you make it.
(the one exception is on a broader scale, litigation vs transactional vs regulatory)

If you're going solo, you can, and should, specialize. Unfortunately, (a) you don't know what you'll like until you're doing it, (b) don't know where you'll be able to get clients until you've learned through trial & error, and (c) can't predict which combination of A&B will be most lucrative.

It's entirely possible that you fall in love with boring old estate planning and are able to chat up well-heeled individuals. Or you could be enjoy being a fierce litigator who happens to fall in with a bad crowd (yay). A friend of mine somehow fell into the crypto-currency market and is doing quite well for herself there while another made a conscientious move into the marijuana business and is struggling daily to find clients.

It's really impossible to predict

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hunter1477 (Aug 15, 2018 - 4:59 pm)

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

I'm looking to go solo shortly after law school (2-3 years). I'd like to get a few years in somewhere while I continue to develop my skills and build a referral base.

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dingbat (Aug 15, 2018 - 6:05 pm)

then your first priority should be getting job offers. Once you're working, you can start gravitating toward a particular field of interest

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isthisit (Aug 15, 2018 - 5:38 pm)

I wish I knew OP.

I started in-house and then started practicing Immigration for firms. I like it mostly but it's a grind like anything else. Just pick something and specialize. People don't hire jack of all trades type attorneys. They're looking for a specialist to resolve their problems.

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