Helping Attorneys Grossing under 100K Break the 6-figure Barrier.
Selecting a Practice Area “Just Say No to Door Law”
Many solos practice what is called “door law.” That means that they take any matter/case/client that walks in the door. The primary reason for this is a fear of client scarcity. If clients are scarce, having four or more practice areas increases the chances of getting work and that’s a good thing. Right? I admit this was my thinking when I first opened my law office. I had five practice areas: probate, legal ethics, family law, landlord-tenant, and business. When I was told that I needed to pick a niche and limit my practice to one area of law, I cringed. Up until that point I thought having a diverse practice was key to my success and that focusing on a specific practice area would cut my income by 75 percent at least. It wasn’t until I asked myself this question that I began to understand my mistaken reasoning. Which would I rather be – a big fish in a little pond or little fish in a big pond. The fish represented my law office and the pond represented the size of my target market. The more services I offered, the larger my target market. I decided that I wanted to be a big fish regardless of the pond for a very good reason. Big fishes eat first and small fishes take what is left if anything. It would be easier and take less time to become a big fish in a little pond than to become a big fish in big pond. If I become a big fish in a little pond, I would stand a better chance of survival when I decided to move to a bigger pond. So, despite my fears and apprehension, I limited my practice to probate and legal ethics. In hindsight, it was one of the best decisions I made personally, professionally and financially.
* I no longer take cases in practice areas that I don’t enjoy. * I am more comfortable and competent in the practice areas that I do enjoy. * I have more time because I am not reinventing the wheel with each case. * I have less stress and increased happiness because I know what I’m doing.
* I really became knowledgeable in my focus areas. * I improved the quality of my legal services. * My professional reputation with the court and other attorneys increased. * I have more satisfied clients.
* I am making more money because I can handle more complex cases. * My client referrals have increased due to my experience in a specific practice area. * My attorney fees increased due to my experience (and clients are willing to pay it). * My expenses and income are more consistent and predictable.
My final thoughts – Having several different practice areas reduces your income potential and increases your chances of committing malpractice. That’s why I suggest that you refer the next case that is outside your practice area to someone else. Use an attorney who focuses on that area as a referral and make sure he or she knows the type of matters that you handle. Someday, you might increase the firm’s practice areas when you add more attorneys, but for now – pick a lane (a practice area) and stay in it.