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As attorneys develop their careers, a key consideration is whether and to what extent to specialize their practice. Law school and bar exam preparation generally provide attorneys with a foundational understanding of many different practice areas, but expertise in none. Early in their careers, attorneys are typically encouraged to choose some direction or a particular area of the law to specialize in. This choice can be influenced by many factors, including areas of interest, demand in the legal market at the time or an employer’s needs. As young attorneys’ careers progress, they often face the question of whether to continue, change or focus their area of practice.

Specialization can take many forms. It might mean focusing your practice on a specific substantive area of the law, or it might mean focusing on an industry, a type of client, or a geographic area. Of course, specialization is also not an all-or-nothing proposition; it is a matter of degree. For example, an attorney interested in working with emerging technology companies might develop broad specializations, such as corporate governance and intellectual property, or limit herself to a more niche specialization, such as cybersecurity. When deciding whether or how to specialize, young attorneys should consider the potential benefits and drawbacks, which we discuss below.

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