Editor’s weekly: Finding your niche

When I was on the hunt for a training contract I was only interested in applying to the big boys. For me it was the magic circle or nothing. In stark contrast my younger brother’s heart was set on specialising in sports law.

Fast-forward ten years and my brother is a successful sports lawyer based in Switzerland whereas I’m just a magic circle reject. Admittedly, I’m not sure who rejected who but suffice to say that I soon realised that bigger isn’t always necessarily better.

Indeed, if I had my time again I would’ve been much slower to dismiss smaller firms particularly those that operate in niche areas such as sports or shipping law.

There are obvious advantages of completing your training contract at smaller firms. Your intake is likely to comprise fewer trainees meaning you’ll get more attention from senior lawyers. The work you handle will arguably be better quality with less time spent in data rooms and is just as likely to hit the headlines.

But there are also disadvantages of training at a niche firm namely the danger of specialising too early, which might make you less marketable in the future. What’s more how can you be sure an area of law is for you until you’ve tried it out? Ask students who claim they want to become media lawyers what this area of law actually entails and most will probably say hanging out with pop stars!

The only way to find your niche is to secure a placement with a specialist firm but before you can do that it’s crucial to read around a practice area. For instance, do you know why claimant media lawyers are threatening to bring judicial review proceedings against the Government? If not then click here.

And remember if your heart is set on a particular area of law then go for it and ignore the fact that your friends are probably all applying to the big firms. Sometimes I wish I had.