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Ask the Experts

Q: I was admitted to practice in 2000 and have been practicing a blend of securities and life insurance law since that time (both in a firm and in-house). I would like to go solo but have little-to-no experience in areas of law, such as real estate and wills and trusts, that I anticipate would provide stable billables. What\'s the best way to acquire such skills and make the transition? Should I enroll in an estate-planning certificate program at NYU? Should I try to intern at a firm that does residential real estate law? Thank you

A: Congratulations on your decision to start your own practice. As you further evaluate your options you should try to determine what practice area(s) you intend to focus on. Are you planning to continue your work in the fields of securities and life insurance law and are only looking to other areas to "fill in" the gap in billables as you build up enough business, or are you trying to change your areas of concentration completely? If you seek to do some really basic real estate and wills and estates work I suggest you consider the following steps:

1. Take the basic CLE seminars in these practice areas; 2. Participate in a pro bono training, join a pro bono clinic or take on a case. This will allow you not only to get exposure to the legal topics but also to "get your feet wet" with real cases.

If you seek to completely change your practice areas, however, and acquire in-depth knowledge and experience in real estate and trust and estates law, you should consider pursuing a more serious course of study and try to find a mentor who would guide you in this process. You may also consider joining a committee at the New York City Bar Association or other organization which specializes in your area of interest.