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Happiest Lawyers By Practice Area

August 25, 2023


Reviewed by:

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 02/02/23

Are you considering a career in law and curious about the happiest lawyers by practice area? If so, keep reading to learn about what types of lawyers are the happiest. 

Research tells us that happiness has many benefits. It has a direct correlation with our productivity levels, financial well-being, and professional success. Happy people are more likely to live longer lives with better overall health compared to unhappy people. Simply put, the pursuit of happiness pays off!

You’ll spend approximately one-third of your life at work, especially when you work in a profession as taxing as the legal field. Lawyers often work long hours. So, if you’re considering a career as a lawyer, it makes sense to pursue a practice area that contributes to your happiness. 

There are myriad areas of law to choose from. The field lawyers get into is often impacted by the major they choose in law school. It’s an important decision that can have a significant impact on your life ahead. So take time to choose the area of law you want to focus on.

Some practice areas are known to produce happy lawyers. Before pursuing them, it's important to ensure you have the skill set and knowledge they require. It’s also important to have a genuine interest in the area of law you decide to practice. Read on to learn more about the happiest lawyers by practice area.

Let’s get started!

Are Lawyers Happy?

Working as a lawyer can be stressful. Along with the long hours, lawyers experience a great deal of pressure and experience burnout. Challenging work can result in cynicism and feeling overwhelmed. If you’re enrolled in or currently applying to law school, you can likely relate. Law school can also be quite challenging

But don’t be discouraged; happiness is certainly achievable in the legal profession. Many lawyers live happy, fulfilling lives while carrying out meaningful work. Though some do struggle to find and maintain a sense of well-being, it is entirely possible to be happy as a lawyer.

This is especially true as the concept of work-life balance becomes more widely spoken about and practiced. A light has been shone on the well-being of lawyers, and it’s contributing to more happiness in the legal profession. Many law firms, organizations, and lawyers are putting a greater emphasis on living well-balanced, healthy lives.

Lawyers can spend more time with friends and family, pick up hobbies, and carve out a stronger identity outside of work. It also helps lawyers approach their work with more clarity and a greater sense of purpose. 

In addition to work-life balance, it also matters which area of law you practice. Lawyers working in particular practice areas report higher overall levels of happiness. Read on to learn more about the nuances of achieving happiness as a lawyer.

What Type of Lawyers Are the Happiest?

If you’re pursuing a career as a lawyer for a high salary, it’s important to know that money doesn’t buy happiness. Research proves that lawyers with higher incomes don’t report greater overall life satisfaction than lawyers who make less money. Affluent lawyers also don’t experience a higher sense of happiness in their day-to-day lives than those who make less money. 

Lawyers with high incomes commonly work in the following areas of law:

  • Corporate Law
  • Malpractice Law
  • Commercial Law
  • Transactional Law
  • Tax Law
  • Estate Planning
  • International Business Law
  • Partnership Law
  • Securities
  • Patent and Copyright Law

Lawyers working in the practice areas above generally performed very well in law school. It’s interesting to note that higher grades in law school don’t help lawyers feel a higher sense of competence and self-satisfaction in their role. So, high-performing students in law school don’t necessarily feel that they’re well-equipped for their job as a lawyer. 

Lawyers who work in service-oriented practices report a greater sense of well-being. These areas of law include:

  • In-house counsel for Nonprofit Organizations
  • Indigent Defense
  • Public Defense
  • Criminal Prosecution
  • Government Agency/Public Policy Law

Service lawyers also report a greater sense of day-to-day happiness. 

These higher levels of happiness can be attributed to the sense of meaning that service-oriented lawyers derive from their work. They have the opportunity to make a positive impact on individual lives. Rather than working to support corporations, these lawyers can often help people directly, which contributes to their sense of fulfillment. 

As mentioned earlier, it’s also important to have a sense of work-life balance to achieve happiness as a lawyer. Cultivating balance in your personal and professional life has many benefits. It positively impacts your physical and mental health and contributes to stronger relationships. 

Work-life balance also helps to reduce stress, prevent burnout and improve productivity. All of which help your life a happier, healthier life. The amount of work-life balance you can acquire depends on the law firm or organization you work with. If you’re self-employed, it depends on your capacity for balance in your day-to-day life. 

The sense of work-life balance you can achieve also depends on which area of law you practice. The following practice areas are known to provide a healthy sense of balance:

  1. Government Agency/Public Policy Law
  2. Solicitation 
  3. Intellectual Property Rights
  4. Real Estate Law
  5. International Law

These areas of law can still be very challenging. However, they are considered less time-consuming and stressful than other areas of law. They tend to follow a 9-5 pm structure of work, which helps lawyers have a stronger sense of balance and work-life separation.

FAQs: Happiest Lawyers by Practice Area

If you’re interested in what type of lawyers are the happiest, you’re in the right place. Continue reading to gain more insight into the happiest lawyers by practice area.

1. What Areas of Law Are Least Stressful to Practice?

Real estate, estate planning, and intellectual property rights law are often referred to as the least stressful areas of law to practice. 

2. What Area of Law Is the Happiest?

Lawyers who work in service-oriented areas of law, such as in-house counsel for nonprofit organizations, indigent defense, public defense, criminal prosecution, and government agency/public policy law report higher levels of happiness. 

3. What Is the Easiest Area of Law to Practice?

Estate planning is commonly considered the easiest to practice because it isn’t as competitive as other areas of law. Estate planning also provides a sense of flexibility that other practice areas lack. 

4. Is It Possible to Be Happy as a Lawyer?

Absolutely! You can certainly live a fulfilling life as a lawyer. Many lawyers live healthy, happy lives; you can too! One of the best ways to be happy as a lawyer is to puruse an aread of law what matches your personality, values, and ambitions. Take our free quiz below to find the best specialty for you! 

Final Thoughts

Life is fleeting. To make the most of it, try to hold onto happiness as much as possible. Happiness will strengthen you, energize you, and improve all aspects of your life, including your career. 

The legal profession has long been considered a stressful one. However, that’s changing! Lawyers are starting to lead happier, more balanced lives. The key to happiness as a lawyer is sustaining a healthy work-life balance and pursuing an area of law that provides you with a sense of fulfillment.

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