Top 5 Most Smug Areas of Law Practice


Ever notice how there are some areas of law practice you love to hate? If you’re honest with yourself, it’s just based on envy. But still, there’s something about the lawyers in that field that is just so . . . smug. Here are the top five offenders.

5. Bankruptcy

I have a little experience with litigation in bankruptcy court, “enough to be dangerous” as they say, and that’s enough to know that bankruptcy-world is its own universe. So, lawyers who know bankruptcy inside-out have a big advantage.

As if that wasn’t irritating enough, bankruptcy is the quintessential counter-cyclical practice area. When a recession hits and other billable work dries up, bankruptcy practice is booming. And the bankruptcy lawyers can barely conceal those smug little smiles.

4. High-Stakes Plaintiff’s Contingent-Fee Litigation

Not sure if this is really a “practice area,” but you know the kind of lawyer I’m talking about. Flies to depositions in a private jet. Wears cowboy boots made of some kind of exotic game. Probably owns a yacht and a Lamborghini. And if he’s really likeable, it’s that much worse.

3. Tax

In my 20 years doing a fairly broad business litigation practice, I’ve always been up for learning a new substantive area of law, but I draw the line at tax law. I’m not even going to touch it. And many of you are just like me. That means if a real tax issue comes up, we have to go to one of a handful of tax specialists for help. And they know it.

2. Appellate

No explanation required.

1. Patent Prosecution

Picking this over appellate was a close call. Yes, it’s easy to resent those appellate lawyers who were the smartest kids at their elite law schools, clerked for federal judges, and then had to agonize over which big-name law firm to join.

But think about how you feel when you see a lawyer profile like this: undergraduate degree in Engineering, Ph.D in Molecular Biology (is that a thing?), J.D. from a respected law school, handles patent prosecution for large high-tech companies. You know that lawyer is basically printing money.

Ok, yes, he probably had a lot of student loan debt, but it was paid off years ago. And while he used to work at a big firm with high overhead, now he’s a partner at a little boutique in the suburbs with cheap rent.

Smug as a bug in a rug.


Zach Wolfe ( is a Texas trial lawyer who handles non-compete and trade secret litigation at Zach Wolfe Law Firm.
These are his opinions, not the opinions of his firm or clients. 

He actually kind of likes appellate lawyers. But not tax lawyers. Nobody likes those guys.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *