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I’m a commercial litigation lawyer…get me out of here!
The commercial litigation market has undoubtedly remained flat over recent years. Commercial litigation lawyers working at all sizes of firms, from top tier/national to small boutique practices have been ticking along with a steady stream of work, but certainly not shouting from the rooftops about either the quality or volume of work available. At BCL Legal we regularly receive enquiries from commercial litigators looking for advice on the market and their options. As an ex commercial litigation lawyer myself, I focus on this area and have excellent contacts and coverage of the market, but find myself regularly advising commercial litigators to look at alternative options. So what else can you do to move on in your career in a static market? Options are available.
Niche areas of litigation are undoubtedly busier. Related disciplines such as professional indemnity are more buoyant – especially if they are insurance backed – and can provide complex, high value litigation to an ambitious lawyer. The transition is not as hard as you would think – the workings of a case are still the same and the tools you will have gained as a commercial litigation lawyer are easily transferrable. With some gentle guidance on legal technicalities and the practice of reporting to insurers, you will be able to move into a niche area like professional indemnity with relative ease, and have a busier, more secure career going forward. Alternatively, if you have experience in niche areas such as property litigation or finance litigation, you may be able to use this experience to make a sideways move into a busier area of law which can put you in an excellent position going forward in your career.
We are also more frequently speaking to candidates about moving to smaller firms, or exploring opportunities out of town. Whilst some lawyers are initially reluctant to move out of the city centre, after further research smaller firms or practices out of the city can offer excellent work and better prospects. Smaller firms generally have smaller teams, and can offer lawyers the opportunity to take on a more hands on client-facing role. A common concern from top/mid tier commercial litigation lawyers is that they are one person in a large team, with little autonomy or client contact. At smaller firms and those outside of the city, lawyers will have greater responsibility, good quality work, and have the ability to take on a much wider role in terms of networking and business development. Not only that, progression prospects are generally better with there being fewer hurdles to reach the associate/partner level.
So if you are a commercial litigation lawyer stuck in a rut and facing a block at your current firm, do not despair! There are options out there if you are willing to think widely and consider alternative options. As an ex commercial litigation lawyer who moved into professional indemnity, I would be delighted to speak to you about your options and how best to position yourself for your next move.
For more information please contact Louisa Phillips.