find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Finding the right fit: generalist v specialist

Finding the right fit: generalist v specialist

When it comes to a lawyer's practice, there are advantages and disadvantages to being either a generalist or a specialist, but deciding on which suits best may come down to the firm, writes Ben…

When it comes to a lawyer's practice, there are advantages and disadvantages to being either a generalist or a specialist, but deciding on which suits best may come down to the firm, writes Ben Carter

Lawyers usually become specialised early on in their careers. How specialised the lawyer may become is greatly dependent on the type of firm the lawyer joins at the beginning of their career.

At top-tiers and large mid-tier firms, lawyers will join a team in a certain area after being admitted or completing their rotations and nine times out of ten this will be the area of law the lawyer will stay in for the rest of their career. This may or may not be by the lawyer's choice.

At smaller or general practice firms, lawyers are often the "jack of all trades" because their client base is mixed and varied. They need to be able to turn their hand with ease to such diverse areas including litigation, family and criminal law.

So, broadly speaking, the type of firm a lawyer joins at the start of their career will dictate if they become a specialist or a generalist. The advantage of being a specialised lawyer is that you can quickly become an expert in your field. Your skills in your discrete area will be highly valued by both your employer and clients.

However, moving out of your specialised area can be difficult and providing advice on legal issues if the matter moves into a different direction may be problematic.

The advantage of being a generalist is that you will be able to handle work for a varied client base and it will be highly interesting because it will often change from one day to the next.

A generalist will develop excellent all-round legal skills and be able to handle most matters from start to finish - no matter what direction the matter takes.

However, a generalist may find it hard to compete against a specialist either as an opponent in a matter or for a specialised legal job.

So, it comes down to the type of firm you want to work for. If you are feeling like you are becoming too specialised or not specialised enough, look to make a change, either by being frank with your current employer or by looking to move to a new firm.

Ben Carter is a senior recruitment consultant at EJ Legal

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Finding the right fit: generalist v specialist
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice, ALA, right-to-die law
Oct 24 2017
‘Right-to-die’ laws would be a relief for terminally ill: ALA
The passage of an assisted dying bill through the lower house of Victorian Parliament has been haile...
Diversity
Oct 24 2017
Diversity top of agenda for future WA Law Society president
The advancement of diversity in the Western Australian legal profession will be one of the key items...
Jetski
Oct 23 2017
How to fail well
The legal profession is due for an attitude adjustment when it comes to perceived failures, accordin...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...