I Want to See the Future of Law


QI just read a post on Lawyerist on the Future of Law Practice and am trying to research the best areas of law for a future law practice and where in the country they will be centered. Although I have been out of school for almost ten years and have ten years experience in business and as an entrepreneur, I am considering law school. As such, I am trying to get a feel for what the next top five booming industries will be, and where they will be centered, so that I may consider applying to law schools with that expertise or regional location. Or perhaps I should be seeking which fields of law practice (as opposed to general industry) will be the most prolific. In any case, I’m doing my due diligence to match my life experience with the right school in the right region for the right reason.

I currently live in California. I have a B.S. in economics and practiced commercial real estate for three years (and still have the license). For the past six years I have been working with an aviation start-up company, so I’m interested in real estate, aviation, M&A work, entertainment law, and possibly aerospace law. I’d appreciate any thoughts you would be willing to share.


ATwo cities and one question. First, the two cities: Delhi and Miami. If the future of law is outsourcing everything but the stapler, then get to know Delhi, one of the centers of outsourcing in India. At least be familiar, very familiar, with the entire LPO industry so that you know what trends may be developing and what jobs are being off-shored so that you don’t pursue anything roughly related to those (unless, of course, you want to be an LPO magnate). But, now you ask, Miami? Yes, Miami. It’s an incredible international city, vibrant, and growing. It has every conceivable industry, from aviation to shipping to tourism and immigration. If I look into my crystal ball, I’d consider Miami over New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Seattle is a close second.

Oh, my question, which is this: why? As in why go to law school? The profession is coming off its worst performance in years, more and more law grads cannot find legal jobs, and, despite some whispering to the contrary, law school admissions are fairly steady. Which means it’s not getting better. So I question the current value of law school and whether it’s a decent investment. In your case, however, the more upfront work you do to figure out the focus of your future legal practice the better. It used to be (and I’m a prime example) that you just went to law school because you didn’t know what else to do. That attitude today is now a $100,000 debt ticket that cannot be redeemed anywhere. If you are about to spend six figures on continued education, do what you are doing now: investigate, research, and network. And don’t go to law school if, after you do your due diligence, your gut tells you it’s the wrong direction.

My final advice? Think of the future of law as one dominated by what I call “floating solos.” These are lawyers who can either practice on their own in a niche area or who can successfully patch together contract work from a number of sources, even from big firms (just don’t expect an equity stake in a big firm as a result of doing work for it). Though some folks may sneer at this concept because it inexplicably seems “unprofessional,” those critics are stuck in the old country and refusing to see the changes that are already rocking the industry. In your case, use your experience in aviation to find out what legal needs exist in the industry and whether those legal needs will continue or change. My guess is, in a highly regulated industry like aviation, it will, and you may have a nice career as a “flying solo,” provided you like the work. Which brings me to my final piece of advice: don’t go into an area or niche for which you have no experience unless you feel, in your gut, it is right for you. Even though barratry may suddenly be the next big thing (which it won’t), it won’t mean a thing to you if you have no real interest or passion for it. Seriously. Don’t do it. Too many big firm attorneys go into a big firm only to hate the work later. Know the work first before you jump.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/grahamhisskoul/5215771525/)

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

12 Comments

  1. P-Nut

    July 29, 2011 at 8:07 am

    I just read an article on Lawyerist, and rather than sending my question about the topic to them, I decided to write to you so that you could have some content here, and then link back to your other site to create some cross traffic and maybe generate a little extra money through your obnoxious ads (which I can’t see, because I use ad blocker, but I’m there are some other dumb schmucks who still view them).

    Please provide an uninteresting, unfunny response.

    • Bill

      July 29, 2011 at 10:07 am

      I think you probably need to find a girfriend to keep you busy at night.

  2. Susan Gainen

    July 30, 2011 at 11:37 am

    As someone who has spent the last quarter century concerned with law students, lawyers, career paths and self assessment, I applaud your inquiry. Too many law students are in school because it is “random graduate school,” not because they have decided to practice law.

    I have some questions for you:
    (1) Why do you really want to go to law school? What will being a lawyer add to your skills set? What is it that you really want to do that you can’t do with what you have?
    (2) Are you running from what you’ve done? Are you running toward something? Are you curious about something new? How do you imagine that law will combine with your experience and add value? Have you talked to professionals who have the job that you think that you want?
    (3) About the “next five booming industries…” Who among us has a crystal ball that anyone should rely on? Think of the top five growth practices in the last ten years, and know that finance and all-thing-related-to-mortgages tanked, taking the economy with them.

    Good luck!

  3. Evil Lawyer

    August 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Bill: please do not link to any more sites that show women over 50 with short hair. No matter how much they smile, it ruins my lunch.

  4. Evil Lawyer

    August 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    “I currently live in California. I have a B.S. in economics and practiced commercial real estate for three years (and still have the license). For the past six years I have been working with an aviation start-up company, so I’m interested in real estate, aviation, M&A work, entertainment law, and possibly aerospace law. I’d appreciate any thoughts you would be willing to share.”

    OK time for Evil Lawyer to take this lad to the woodshed. One, leave California unless you want to lose 10% of your income to taxes. I’d leave but I am embedded here.

    Two, shut up about your BS in Economics: its worth barely more than a BS in Psychology. It sounds even sillier given the times.

    Three, make up your mind: real estate? Aviation? Entertainment? M&A? Are you an ADHD careerist? Any of those means long hours, paying some dues and getting to know how things work.

    I’d dump aerospace: Boeing is leaving long beach when it can. It may leave the US when it can. Obama is dumping on private jets. Don’t think that matters? Remember how much money people put into steel mills after Truman seized then in the 50′s to pay some union wage demands? Neither do I.

    Space law? Like what? Litigating over orbital slots? yeah, there’s a line that’ll get you laid. And its all done in D.C. or in some international courts. Not LA.

    Nor is LA is not the M&A center in case you missed it. There is no demand for Entertainment dillitantes that dabble in aerospace. If you foolishly want to stay here as a work horse for the Legislature’s endless demands for more taxes to pay pensions to people other than you, do the commercial real estate and try to get a job with a decent sized firm. Learn the ropes. Pay dues. Emerge with a skill thats very hard to send off shore and buildings that are harder to manage and sell from off shore as well.

    PS: do not trust people who use any of the following phrases: “skill set” or “synergy.”

    PPS:

    • Verna

      August 1, 2011 at 9:31 pm

      Yes, but at least there are alot of pretty women in LA (like me) to keep you humps chasing us!

      • Evil Lawyer

        August 2, 2011 at 11:43 am

        Please, Verna. Lawyers in LA are touchy about this. But pretty women in LA chase men who claim to be “producers”, or relatives of washed up actors or singers. They work at unpaid internships where they display slackjawed admiration and drop to their knees willingness for almost any actor. They get dumped at age 32 when the wrinkles start to show. THEN they look for a steadily employed lawyer to marry and sponsor their Sports Club AL membership, and a couple of kids before filing for a lucrative divorce. Much as it wounds my sense of hometown pride, women from Orange county are just as pretty, with no greed complex, no entertainment stardust in their eyes and their breasts are real. Many have actually read a book. That does not stop me from claiming to be a producer when I have to, but its a touchy subject.

        • Bill

          August 3, 2011 at 6:25 am

          What you are saying is that since the women are vapid, the men have to be up for the task.

          That means that in LA, you just have to “hump ‘em and dump ‘em”, while in Orange County, you just have to “f***ck ‘em and chuck ‘em.”

          Am I right or what?

  5. tingling

    August 5, 2011 at 4:11 am

    Have you not seen the real housewives of orange county?!?!? They are as fake as they come!!! -bitter ex

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