In most areas of civil litigation, the decision-makers are generalists. Judges, juries, arbitrators, and mediators typically see a variety of cases, constantly encountering new fact patterns with unfamiliar legal issues. Litigators who can speak to these decision-makers as fellow generalists often find themselves at a persuasive advantage.
Although many new attorneys feel pressure to specialize in a particular substantive area early in their career, the diverse experience gained initially as a general litigation practitioner provides invaluable opportunities to hone the craft of litigating.
A broad litigation background is particularly useful to attorneys who represent individual plaintiffs. Indeed, as sophisticated plaintiffs’ firms have moved away from niche specialization to take on a broad array of complex matters, the plaintiffs’ bar has a growing need for skilled generalists.
As generalists, such plaintiffs’ attorneys will have the skills necessary to balance working across many practice areas and take on complex cases wherever there are pervasive harms, unrestricted by substantive constraints. For this reason, junior litigators, especially those considering working on the plaintiffs’ side, can and should develop a diverse practice and gain a broad understanding of civil litigation that transcends any particular substantive niche.
As featured on Bloomberg Law, here are some tips for up-and-coming generalists by Keller Postman Associates Frank Dylewski, Albert Pak, and Brooke Clason Smith.
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