Alameda County
Bar Association

Dear Commish: I’m Afraid I Won’t Like My Practice Area 

Commish v2 LONG

Dear Commish:

I am a new attorney, trying to figure out my next step.  How did you figure out what area you were interested in?  I’m afraid to jump into one thing because then I’m afraid I won’t like it, but will be stuck.

Dear Afraid:

I was equally uncertain when I graduated from law school, so I tried different areas of practice alphabetically for a year at a time.  First Antitrust, then Business Litigation, then Criminal Defense, then Domestic Relations, and so on.  I ended up doing Water Rights after 23 years because I couldn’t think of any area of practice that starts with the letter X.  Good luck!

But if that approach seems like too slow, here are a few other ideas:   Volunteer to handle pro bono cases in new practice areas through ACBA.  Attend introductory-level MCLE programs in subject areas that you haven’t been exposed to.  Get yourself an experienced Mentor, either on your own or through the ACBA Mentorship Program, so you’ll have someone further along in their practice with whom to discuss your ideas and concerns.  Attend meetings of Bar Association Sections in new areas of practice to hear what those fields are all about.  And keep your eyes and ears open when you are in court or chatting with other lawyers, you never know when you might stumble across an idea that would be a good fit for you.

“Dear Commish” is a regular advice column. The “Commish” is retired Commissioner Glenn Oleon, who served on the Alameda County Superior Court from 2003 to 2013. Commissioner Oleon now serves as a mediator and Private Judge in family law and other cases through ADR Services, Inc. Do you have a question for “Dear Commish”? Send questions into He can be reached through or by email at