As we are riding the roller-coaster ride that is the US economy, it seems to be a great time to revisit practice areas selection for associates. There are two types of practice areas – those that thrive in “up” markets and those that thrive in “down” markets. Right now, the market is as down as it can be.
Litigation (slightly busy, and we are expecting more hours out of you litigation associates this year)
Who’s not busy?
There are certain practices that are able to exist in both “up” and “down” markets:
Tax and other specialty practices
Why? Tax supports many of a firm’s practice areas and, thus, has a slight “internal hedge” against a down market. Intellectual property involves different types of work as well. Even though IP transactional work has slowed to a crawl, patent prosecution and IP litigation are still rolling along.
My advice? When selecting a practice area in your early career, know whether or not your practice is an up or down market practice. It will allow you to plan to ride the roller-coaster more enjoyably – e.g. if you chose to become a bankruptcy associate in a top firm, expect that you will be slammed when all of your attorney friends are slow and on the hunt for work.
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