Deciding Your
Area of Practice

books in glass bookcase

Every law student (including those aspiring to study law) and even young lawyers often struggle in deciding what type of law they want to practice. Legal dramas on TV and law school to a large extent gives the impression that criminal law or litigation and working in a large reputable law firm is the true mark of success.

Ultimately, finding the area of law which you are passionate about which suits your personality makes it all worthwhile.

Consider these 4 questions to decide what type of law is a perfect fit for you.

1. Do you like public speaking and presenting arguments?

If you can deal with constant conflict on a daily basis and enjoy the experience of speaking in front of an audience, then being a litigator in civil or criminal matters might be a good fit for you.

However, if you are a person who generally avoids conflict, then another type of law may be suitable, for example, corporate law. Pay close attention to the subjects that interest you in law school and your daily routine during pupillage.

2. Is a big paycheck your only source of motivation?

Did you know that studies suggest that lawyers who aren’t highly paid tend to be happier?

If remuneration is an important factor for you, then the area of law you choose to practice in may be very different compared to, say, someone who prioritises meaningful work which impacts society.

Although both approaches have their pros and cons, determining what motivates you is important for a long-standing career in legal practice.

man holding white ceramic teacup
gray concrete pillar

3. Do you enjoy working on your own or in a competitive environment?

The truth about legal practice is that you need to manage your expectations- you may not have complete control over your work as you are subject to
- the demands of the court; and
- partners of the law firm (if you work in one).

If you thrive in an environment where you have more control, ultimately starting your own practice is advisable. If you enjoy the vibes working in a highly competitive environment, then working in a large law firm and going to court on a frequent basis may be a good fit.

Each person thrives in different working environments, so choose the one that works best for you.

4. Do you enjoy interacting with people or do you prefer paperwork?

If you enjoy going to court or interacting with clients, then the type of law you should consider practicing differs from someone who enjoys the 'research and paperwork' side of things.

Does writing briefs and legal research make you happier or is it handling clients and fighting battles in court that brings a spring to your step?

Whatever the case may be, make sure you choose something you enjoy-the better to experience a fulfilling career!