Finding the Right Legal Specialty

We appreciate the positive review of the Lawfit Career Assessment Test from Lori Tripoli on her blog, Contemporary Law Office Management. Lori is also the author of the book, Contemporary Law Office Management.

I was enthused to learn about a new online service, LawFit, that helps lawyers and law students identify where, or on what, in the field they would like to work. Using an online assessment, the service measures preferences, values, and interests to help currently practicing attorneys as well as those about to enter the workforce, find the right niche in the legal marketplace, whether that is in a law firm or elsewhere.

I haven’t tried LawFit, but I would likely be interested if I were less sure of where I was going. When I was a young associate, many of my colleagues seemed to fall into specialties by chance. Their firm had a need, and they followed. Some opted out of potentially vibrant practice areas because the group leaders were dour, or more than typically difficult. Others had goals in mind that didn’t quite seem in line with the firm they’d opted to work for. Want to help the poor? Working at a large law firm might not be the most direct route to do so, unless you’re planning on helping simply by writing big checks.

A career counselor can provide some validation. I sought one out after I ditched my big-firm existence. I’d been kicking around a dream of becoming a writer. All of the testing I did pointed to exactly that. I felt far more comfortable pursuing a writing track than I had when I was fresh out of law school and too timid to veer from the path seemingly set for me.
A service like that of LawFit, or of any career counselor, could be helpful even mid-career. People change. In my early 20s, I had no interest at all in being a litigator, wasn’t quick on my feet, and would not have enjoyed the pressure associated with courtroom performance. As I matured—and practiced—my speaking skills improved and I became more comfortable being on the spot. Judges and others are no longer quite so intimidating. I don’t stumble as much if I cannot quickly come up with an answer. By my early 40s, I’d found a different venue: teaching. I’ve been fortunate to combine my law background and my communications skills to introduce others to a vibrant field. I am grateful that way back when, a bunch of test results confirmed that I’d be well-suited to the me I had in mind rather than the me I was at the time.

—Lori Tripoli