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What fields of law have the highest demand for Lawyers?


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#1 claytong

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 04:05 PM

I am curious to know what fields of law (from a career prospective) have the highest demand, particularaly in the Vancouver region. I was recently accepted into law school and am curious to know what fields current law students and graduates consider to be the most "in demand". I recently spoke to a long-term lawyer who said if he could do it all over again he would become a tax lawyer and seemed to think that there is a more consistent and higher level of demand for a tax lawyer than say environmental lawyers, etc.

Any comments are appreciated. :finga:

#2 widget

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 05:41 PM

1. Tax lawyers are in demand because it's a complex field that a lot of people shy away from. I've heard the same things as you have about tax law, but I have zero interest in the corporate sphere so I tend to forget it.
2. Family lawyers, because of high attrition.
3. Crim lawyers (particularly in Vancouver, I believe) for attrition reasons as well as an uptick in enforcement. I think the Vancouver area recently recruited a bunch of new prosecutors to deal with drug offences. I suppose there may have been an equal increase in the private/legal aid bar.

Vancouver market is one of the most saturated in Canada. By the time you're applying, Thompson Rivers will add another 40 or so law students per year into the mix, and it remains to be seen how many of them will be heading into Vancouver each year. Are you dead set on Vancouver or nothing? Or are you more open to other areas of BC? And more importantly, what fields are/do you think you'd be interested in? It's no good to spend years becoming a tax lawyer if you'll hate it, even if it does mean a job in the city you want.

#3 johnny truant

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 11:10 PM

I've heard the opposite about Crim lawyers in Vancouver; apparently the market in Vancouver proper is pretty saturated but there's a huge demand in Surrey.

Agreed on family; if you call up LSS B.C. (B.C.'s Legal aid provider) and tell them you're practicing in Vancouver and looking for family legal aid referrals you'll be drowning in work within a few months.

No idea about tax lawyers; I also have zero interest in that field.

I've heard that insurance defense is an area that's pretty consistently hiring. Again, I have zero interest in that stuff so I don't know for sure and even if I was interested I'd sure as hell be on the other side of the table representing plaintiffs.

#4 claytong

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 12:33 AM

Points well taken, thank you for the responses both of you.

I do actually enjoy tax - I worked at an accounting firm three years ago and out of all the different elements of accounting I always seemed to enjoy taxation, I find it interesting. You are correct though as I do not know if it is definitively the field of law I want to pursue and I plan on keeping all avenues open. That being said I am a future law student (Sept / 2011 @ [decision pending on school]) who does plan to take on a large amount of student debt. Finding a job in a field that will allow me to support a family, etc, is important to me. I will keep all options open but I think a logical side of me will consistently steer me towards "stable" and hopefully somewhat lucrative sorts of positions that at least fall within the wide spectrum of my personal interests.

I would imagine being a family lawyer would be somewhat stressful. I understand that they deal with a lot of issues, not just divorce, but I'm not sure that I would like to be dealing with the stubbornness of families and individuals as opposed to working with the Income Tax Act and comparatively more numbers and related issues. I look forward to getting in to law school and finally diving in to each of these issues through courses. Law school must be exciting :rock:

#5 getzlaf15

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 02:30 AM

I've heard the opposite about Crim lawyers in Vancouver; apparently the market in Vancouver proper is pretty saturated but there's a huge demand in Surrey.


Gee, I wonder why. :wink:

Anyway, does anyone know what the quality of life of a tax lawyer is compared to the other types of lawyers? I've never thought of tax lawyer as an option but if it's in high demand then it could be a consideration. I hear there are a lot of numbers/accounting that goes into tax law that scares away many law students. I do feel that I'm really really good with numbers (even amongst my engineering classmates) and I've done really well in every accounting-type course I've taken.

#6 juicy star

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 07:08 PM

there really isn't that much number-crunching involved in tax law, if anything it's basic multiplication or subtraction/addition. I would say most of tax law cases involve statutory interpretation - what does this particular word in this particular provision mean and does it apply to the case at hand (this applies more to tax litigation, I don't know much about tax planning).

also, the Tax Act is a complete mess of patchwork provisions and there is a huge learning curve - i have heard of one tax lawyer saying that he didn't feel he knew enough about tax law to properly advise clients until his 10th year post-call. The same guy said tax lawyers don't necessarily work less, but they do have more control over their hours, because they don't deal with the urgent deadlines (for closing and whatnot) that corporate lawyers tend to face. I should also note that a lot of tax lawyers' work are non-billable, because they have to spend a lot of time keep up with the numerous changes to the Tax Act year after year. That being said, I have heard that they (well, senior lawyers at least) tend to bill at a very high rate, likely to compensate for all that self-education time.

#7 getzlaf15

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 11:10 PM

there really isn't that much number-crunching involved in tax law, if anything it's basic multiplication or subtraction/addition. I would say most of tax law cases involve statutory interpretation - what does this particular word in this particular provision mean and does it apply to the case at hand (this applies more to tax litigation, I don't know much about tax planning).

also, the Tax Act is a complete mess of patchwork provisions and there is a huge learning curve - i have heard of one tax lawyer saying that he didn't feel he knew enough about tax law to properly advise clients until his 10th year post-call. The same guy said tax lawyers don't necessarily work less, but they do have more control over their hours, because they don't deal with the urgent deadlines (for closing and whatnot) that corporate lawyers tend to face. I should also note that a lot of tax lawyers' work are non-billable, because they have to spend a lot of time keep up with the numerous changes to the Tax Act year after year. That being said, I have heard that they (well, senior lawyers at least) tend to bill at a very high rate, likely to compensate for all that self-education time.


Thanks for the response! Do you also happen to know how high an average tax lawyer's salary is compared to other disciplines?

#8 almostnot

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 01:49 AM

there really isn't that much number-crunching involved in tax law, if anything it's basic multiplication or subtraction/addition. I would say most of tax law cases involve statutory interpretation - what does this particular word in this particular provision mean and does it apply to the case at hand (this applies more to tax litigation, I don't know much about tax planning).

also, the Tax Act is a complete mess of patchwork provisions and there is a huge learning curve - i have heard of one tax lawyer saying that he didn't feel he knew enough about tax law to properly advise clients until his 10th year post-call. The same guy said tax lawyers don't necessarily work less, but they do have more control over their hours, because they don't deal with the urgent deadlines (for closing and whatnot) that corporate lawyers tend to face. I should also note that a lot of tax lawyers' work are non-billable, because they have to spend a lot of time keep up with the numerous changes to the Tax Act year after year. That being said, I have heard that they (well, senior lawyers at least) tend to bill at a very high rate, likely to compensate for all that self-education time.


Thanks for the response! Do you also happen to know how high an average tax lawyer's salary is compared to other disciplines?


It's at the high end of the range, but without the regular weekend component.

#9 getzlaf15

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 02:22 PM

It's at the high end of the range, but without the regular weekend component.


Without the regular weekend component meaning they have to work during the weekends or that they get the weekends off?

#10 Mal

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 02:42 PM



It's at the high end of the range, but without the regular weekend component.


Without the regular weekend component meaning they have to work during the weekends or that they get the weekends off?


They tend to have the best hours but its quite high stress. The amount of burnout around 55-60 is extreme. It is hardly an area you would choose unless it naturally fit. The idea that "tax law is easy" is absolutely not the case. There is a huge huge learning curve and it takes the right person to be able to understand it. It is not an area that the average lawyer would be successful in.

(My dad practices tax - CA not lawyer though).

#11 kingoftorts

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 03:25 PM

The amount of burnout around 55-60 is extreme.


Lol, seriously, is this a joke?

#12 Mal

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 03:34 PM

The amount of burnout around 55-60 is extreme.


Lol, seriously, is this a joke?


I am confused, why would it be a joke? Perhaps it wasn't expressed well.

#13 SaulGoodman

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 04:10 PM

One lawyer my dad (my dad is a CA so I think he wants me to go into tax law) knows worked in corporate law but now is strictly a tax lawyer. He specialized into tax law because he felt it gave him a better lifestyle. He didn't really elaborate but I inferred he worked less hours and didn't have to deal with other lawyers he didn't get along with when he was in corporate law (the switch from corporate law to tax law also enabled him to switch from working at large ish firms to having a private practice). From what I understood, though, to work only in tax law requires several years of experience in corporate law (I suppose this is due to the complexity of the issues as other posters have already said). I also inferred pay wise he does more or less as well as he did or would have if he stuck to practicing corporate law.

#14 getzlaf15

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 04:46 PM

Thanks for your responses. Looks like tax law might interest me (and not just because it pays well). Obviously I won't know for sure if I'm cut out for tax law until I get into law school so I'm still gonna keep my options open that's for sure.

Btw, is it true that many CAs are jealous of tax lawyers or is that just a myth that the lawyers made up? (I read this somewhere.)

#15 SaulGoodman

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 04:56 PM

Thanks for your responses. Looks like tax law might interest me (and not just because it pays well). Obviously I won't know for sure if I'm cut out for tax law until I get into law school so I'm still gonna keep my options open that's for sure.

Btw, is it true that many CAs are jealous of tax lawyers or is that just a myth that the lawyers made up? (I read this somewhere.)


My dad is a CA and is in no way envious of any type of lawyer. He has very little respect for most lawyers. Admittedly this is a small sample size, and my dad just might not be the envious type (this is probably true).

#16 getzlaf15

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 04:57 PM

Thanks for your responses. Looks like tax law might interest me (and not just because it pays well). Obviously I won't know for sure if I'm cut out for tax law until I get into law school so I'm still gonna keep my options open that's for sure.

Btw, is it true that many CAs are jealous of tax lawyers or is that just a myth that the lawyers made up? (I read this somewhere.)


My dad is a CA and is in no way envious of any type of lawyer. He has very little respect for most lawyers. Admittedly this is a small sample size, and my dad just might not be the envious type (this is probably true).


Haha what does he think about you going into law school then?

#17 almostnot

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 05:07 PM

My dad is also a CA. He actively discouraged me from going to law school. He said he couldn't think of a group of professionals that worked harder for less money. However, he was ridiculously proud of me from getting into law school, doing well in law school, and getting articles. (you can't stifle parental pride.)

He values tax professionals and couldn't practice effectively without them.

#18 SaulGoodman

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 05:14 PM

Thanks for your responses. Looks like tax law might interest me (and not just because it pays well). Obviously I won't know for sure if I'm cut out for tax law until I get into law school so I'm still gonna keep my options open that's for sure.

Btw, is it true that many CAs are jealous of tax lawyers or is that just a myth that the lawyers made up? (I read this somewhere.)


My dad is a CA and is in no way envious of any type of lawyer. He has very little respect for most lawyers. Admittedly this is a small sample size, and my dad just might not be the envious type (this is probably true).


Haha what does he think about you going into law school then?


Lol probably what you expect. When I first told my parents I was considering going to law school, my dad was convinced for the longest time I was just saying that that to annoy him (which does sound like something I would do). After writing the LSAT I think my dad realized I actually do want to go to law school, for reasons other than to just annoy him (although it is a definite fringe benefit), and I think he's reserving judgment until he sees what type of lawyer I turn out to be. He knows quite a few lawyers and dislikes most, but he does get along with a few.

My younger brother graduates high school this year and has said he might want to go into law. Then my dad will really wonder where he went wrong, raising two sons to be lawyers. Admittedly my brother is pretty flaky and might decide tomorrow he wants to be a marine biologist, so I guess the issue of two sons as lawyers is at this point premature.

#19 getzlaf15

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 05:30 PM

My younger brother graduates high school this year and has said he might want to go into law. Then my dad will really wonder where he went wrong, raising two sons to be lawyers.


LMAO.

#20 xtp

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 08:45 PM

My dad is also a CA. He actively discouraged me from going to law school. He said he couldn't think of a group of professionals that worked harder for less money. However, he was ridiculously proud of me from getting into law school, doing well in law school, and getting articles. (you can't stifle parental pride.)

He values tax professionals and couldn't practice effectively without them.


Coming from a CA this is pretty hilarious. Ask him what a CA at one of the big 4 makes 1 year after passing the UFEs. Its shockingly low for the amount they work.


Also re: tax, yes its in demand and its probably a better life style than almost any other area but its also very different work from all other areas. It also isn't something you can fake, almost all good tax lawyers love tax law. Take corporate tax and do a tax rotation and see if you enjoy it but don't just decide on tax because its "in demand", almost all lawyers are in demand, that's why lawyers make as much as they do.

#21 getzlaf15

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 09:59 PM

My dad is also a CA. He actively discouraged me from going to law school. He said he couldn't think of a group of professionals that worked harder for less money. However, he was ridiculously proud of me from getting into law school, doing well in law school, and getting articles. (you can't stifle parental pride.)

He values tax professionals and couldn't practice effectively without them.


Coming from a CA this is pretty hilarious. Ask him what a CA at one of the big 4 makes 1 year after passing the UFEs. Its shockingly low for the amount they work.


Also re: tax, yes its in demand and its probably a better life style than almost any other area but its also very different work from all other areas. It also isn't something you can fake, almost all good tax lawyers love tax law. Take corporate tax and do a tax rotation and see if you enjoy it but don't just decide on tax because its "in demand", almost all lawyers are in demand, that's why lawyers make as much as they do.


Thanks for the insight! I'll definitely keep my options open when I enter law school.

#22 erinl2

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 07:55 AM

At the large firms, which is where the bulk of the interesting and complex tax work is done, associates for tax aren't any more 'in demand', in the sense that more are needed, than any other department. The workload isn't necessarily any lighter either, especially when you establish yourself in a particular area of tax, and if you're proficient enough to be handling tax litigation, be prepared for lots of travel, something that most lawyers hate.

#23 juicy star

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 08:47 PM

The amount of burnout around 55-60 is extreme.


Lol, seriously, is this a joke?


I am confused, why would it be a joke? Perhaps it wasn't expressed well.


Do you mean age 55-60? isn't that pretty close to retirement age anyway? I was under the impression that most people burn out within 10 years of call, so if they can last until 55 they are probably doing pretty good...

or do you mean 55-60%?

#24 kathryndan

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 04:08 PM

Hey, guys. Great posts. But, uh, can we hear about some areas other than tax law? Like family law? Or criminal law?

#25 xtp

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 09:48 PM

At the large firms, which is where the bulk of the interesting and complex tax work is done, associates for tax aren't any more 'in demand', in the sense that more are needed, than any other department. The workload isn't necessarily any lighter either, especially when you establish yourself in a particular area of tax, and if you're proficient enough to be handling tax litigation, be prepared for lots of travel, something that most lawyers hate.


Demand doesn't mean "how many lawyers are needed", demand means "how many lawyers do it relative to how many are needed". At most firms you will find that good tax lawyers are certainly "in demand" much more so than other practice areas. Tax associates and partners, at every firm I interviewed at (6 in Toronto) stated that they worked fewer and more regular hours than their peers. Most tax lawyers don't do any litigation unless they want to be a tax litigator in which case its all they do.

Re: other areas of law, it depends. Family lawyers start out making less money than corporate types (which could be seen as being in "less demand") but my understanding is that experienced family lawyers are always in high demand. People always need to get divorced... and commit crimes for that matter so I imagine the same is true for criminal defense lawyers.

The problem with this whole discussion is that "in demand" is a very vague and unspecific. Like I said above, all lawyers are in demand in that all lawyers can do things that are useful for people. There aren't many (any) experienced lawyers who don't regularly turn down work.




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