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Ask the Experts

Q: My first and only job since graduating from law school in 2007 has been as an Assistant D.A.. After 4.5 years at DA's office, I am now looking to transition out of criminal law and into the private sector, specifically into the area of wills, trusts and estates. I do not have experience in those fields of law, outside of my law school courses, but what can I do to make myself marketable to those firms that emphasize those practice areas?

A: It is often difficult to transition from one legal career to another; however, definitely not impossible! As a criminal prosecutor, your skill set is extremely specialized. Not only are you attempting to transition from the public sector to the private sector, but, you are also hoping to transition into a completely new field. There are certain steps that you should consider taking as you pursue your interest in Wills, and Trust and Estates - first and foremost, have you tried networking events and talking to individuals in the field? What have they said to you? Have you read publications to learn more about the field? Job descriptions of associates practicing Wills, Trusts and Estates at law firms? Additionally, have you attended any CLE courses to demonstrate a true and substantiated interest in the field? Or joined any bar association committees or sections in the field? It is extremely important at this point to have not only an expressed interest in transitioning out of criminal law, but a demonstrated interest.

Getting involved in a pro bono project is also a great way to gain experience and learn more about the field, and the required skill set that you will need to be successful in it. Another very valuable way to get on-the-job experience and an inside look at a new field is to try work on a temporary basis in the field. Spending time as a temporary employee gives you the opportunity to further delve into the field of Wills, and Trusts and Estates. Lastly, continue to network, network, network!