Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

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huskydog
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Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by huskydog » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:48 am

If a firm leads in say aviation finance or like rail financing and that's your interest (that you can demostrate via past experiences etc) but aviation /rail finance is pretty niche should you still mention it? I know if it is a larger more general group it's safe but niche areas dont always hire but this could be a way to show interest with a firm you have never networked with
Context: Cover Letter (not interview)

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blueapple
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by blueapple » Fri Jul 26, 2019 8:52 am

bumping so people with law firm experience can weigh in (i'm in government), but i think yes

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Danger Zone
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by Danger Zone » Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:09 am

Only if the firm has that area and even then it's maybe not the best choice because they may not have any needs in that group. If your goal is to just get any OCI job then I'd say just pick a broader area like financing generally, doesn't have to be as broad as "transactional". Also need a very good answer as to why.

huskydog
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by huskydog » Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:26 am

Danger Zone wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:09 am
Only if the firm has that area and even then it's maybe not the best choice because they may not have any needs in that group. If your goal is to just get any OCI job then I'd say just pick a broader area like financing generally, doesn't have to be as broad as "transactional". Also need a very good answer as to why.
Do you have thoughts on if one were to write something broad like I am drawn/interested etc in your financing practice, especially (say) aviation fiance (the niche practice) because of XYZ[ past experience, love for the sector, etc] or does the I am interested in the broad part some fake because the student is clearly actually interested in the niche area but is hedging the sentence with something broader like financing in general ( financing for rails, highways, airports, hotels etc)

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Danger Zone
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by Danger Zone » Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:35 am

No that's perfect, it shows both your specific interest and flexibility which is exactly what firms want.

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jeff chiles
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by jeff chiles » Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:37 am

Danger Zone wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:09 am
Also need a very good answer as to why.
This is the biggest issue I had even with niche groups I was genuinely interested in. And it can easily backfire - I am confident I talked myself out of possible offers by going on about how interested I was in a given specialty only to have someone say “well we really only have one guy that does that.”

Firms websites are marketing tools - including a specialty or niche area on the practice area list may indicate the firm is just trying to target that as a new business development area or to show that they cover a wide range of practice areas when in reality it’s a tiny part of their business

huskydog
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by huskydog » Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:51 am

jeff chiles wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:37 am
Danger Zone wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:09 am
Also need a very good answer as to why.
This is the biggest issue I had even with niche groups I was genuinely interested in. And it can easily backfire - I am confident I talked myself out of possible offers by going on about how interested I was in a given specialty only to have someone say “well we really only have one guy that does that.”

Firms websites are marketing tools - including a specialty or niche area on the practice area list may indicate the firm is just trying to target that as a new business development area or to show that they cover a wide range of practice areas when in reality it’s a tiny part of their business
Do you think Chambers ranking Band 1 might be a good indication if that is a strong area for them instead of a marketing toy? Would you always hedge your answers (in interviews) or cover letters and say I am interested in broader areas like finanving in general but I really like (say) aviation finance.

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Slytherpuff
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by Slytherpuff » Fri Jul 26, 2019 10:29 am

This can sometimes end up hurting you - there are some firms out there that hire people into specific groups, and they just won't give you an offer if they don't think they can place you into that group. I found that out the hard way during OCI back in the day when I got a call from a firm in late October (long after I'd already secured my 2L SA) saying they didn't think they were going to add an associate to that group but their staffing needs had changed, and they were wondering if I was still interested in that group. So it's fine to say you're interested in a firm because of that group, but you also need to say that you're open to other work as well (and I'm talking broader than "financing in general" because even that may be too small of a group in some offices).

Also, I think there's a chance that firms that do aviation finance really only have 1-2 people who do that, so you need to be careful. Read through people's bios online and count the number of lawyers who do that work before you try to sell yourself to a firm based on your interest in that group.

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Danger Zone
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by Danger Zone » Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:47 am

It's one thing to say the firm has a "strong reputation" in a certain area or works with XYZ impressive clients in the space but citing any specific rankings will come off as being interested in the firm for the wrong reasons (namely prestige) to put it nicely. Like slyther said you have to tailor your responses to each particular firm. Also the best response is always that you have some relevant experience in the space, nothing else to me measures up, especially if a KJD is telling me they're interested in something as specific as aviation finance (not saying you're a kjd but just noting that raises major red flags to me).

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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by huskydog » Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:58 am

Danger Zone wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:47 am
It's one thing to say the firm has a "strong reputation" in a certain area or works with XYZ impressive clients in the space but citing any specific rankings will come off as being interested in the firm for the wrong reasons (namely prestige) to put it nicely. Like slyther said you have to tailor your responses to each particular firm. Also the best response is always that you have some relevant experience in the space, nothing else to me measures up, especially if a KJD is telling me they're interested in something as specific as aviation finance (not saying you're a kjd but just noting that raises major red flags to me).
Do you think work experience in a different law firm in aviation finance/rail finance (or the other niche area) counts (it was an internship not a full time job). Yes I am K-JD. Do you think that lends some credibility to claim interest? The other reason is general interest in the sector but as a K-JD I have never worked in that sector so it's more of a hobby/interest thing. I wasn't thinking of giving a specific ranking, I was thinking of just saying "market leading rail practice" etc

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Danger Zone
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by Danger Zone » Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:17 pm

Yes that's the right answer 👍

Good luck out there OP, you got this!

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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by huskydog » Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:57 pm

Danger Zone wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:17 pm
Yes that's the right answer 👍

Good luck out there OP, you got this!
Thanks! :D
I will mention my 1L law firm experience in aviation finance. Do you think i should also mention general sector interest too or is that a bit flaky, especially since I can't devote much space to it on a cover letter but just saying interest in aviation does not have any backing to the claim like someone trying to pretend to be interested in it without showing "proof"? I guess if I was once like a commercial airline pilot on my resume saying interest in commercial aviation in general would be credible (albeit why one quit could raise other issues)

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Danger Zone
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by Danger Zone » Fri Jul 26, 2019 1:06 pm

I wouldn't because interest in aviation and interest in aviation finance have almost no overlap in terms of what you'd be doing on a daily basis.

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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by eagles » Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:03 pm

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Last edited by eagles on Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

eagles
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by eagles » Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:06 pm

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eagles
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by eagles » Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:08 pm

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Last edited by eagles on Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

huskydog
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by huskydog » Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:12 pm

Danger Zone wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 1:06 pm
I wouldn't because interest in aviation and interest in aviation finance have almost no overlap in terms of what you'd be doing on a daily basis.
Thank you for your advice!

huskydog
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by huskydog » Sun Jul 28, 2019 11:53 am

Danger Zone wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:17 pm
Yes that's the right answer 👍

Good luck out there OP, you got this!
Sorry, I have one more question on this topic as I am drafting my cover letter. Ussually I talk about aviation finance in the context of like attention to details+ experience in transacational work. If the firm leads in aviation finance, should I also spend a few sentences on the knowledge I gained to "prove" I did substantive work in the area that required researching aviation finance laws or is that 'wasting' space since 1) I am no expert in aviation finance and 2) my resume already states my areas of research in this aviation finance

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Nony
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by Nony » Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:30 pm

No, you don’t need to start adding substantive info about aviation finance to prove you worked in that area. That’s not the purpose of the cover letter and a few sentences on that would be too much info.

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Danger Zone
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Re: Thoughts on expressing a specific niche interest?

Post by Danger Zone » Sun Jul 28, 2019 1:45 pm

Agreed!

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