Choosing a Practice Area

10-16-2013 4-34-22 PMIn my last post, I shared some words of wisdom from our If I Only Knew panelists at Learning the Ropes 2013.  This week I’m offering further advice from our panelists on how to choose an area of practice:

Business and Financial Considerations

  • In what businesses do you have knowledge and expertise?
  • Do you have special contacts in a particular field?
  • Can you identify a specific market for your legal services?
  • What is the competition like? 
  • Are there enough clients to warrant another practitioner in the geographic area? 
  • Can you provide better, less expensive, or more convenient service?
  • What are your cash flow considerations?

Personal Considerations

  • What area of law do you like?
  • What kind of clients do you want to represent?
    • Businesses
    • Individuals
    • High income – estate planning, business, real estate
    • Low income – poverty law, domestic relations, consumer law
  • What challenges you?
  • What gives you great satisfaction?

Other Considerations

Overall, do you prefer civil or criminal? If civil, do you see yourself as a litigator or transactional lawyer?  If criminal, how do you feel about court-appointed work?

Still Unsure?  Conduct Informational Interviews

If you are unsure about what area to practice in, talk with people who practice in the areas that you might be interested in. Take them out to lunch or to coffee and conduct an “informational interview.”

You’re Off and Running

Once you figure out what area you do want to practice in, try to develop your marketing niche.  This may be the practice area itself, or it may be a twist that differentiates you from someone else in your geographical area. Figure out your difference, and make sure that people know what it is.  Sample marketing plans, business development checklists, and marketing worksheets are available on the PLF Web site.

Parting Words

Practicing is a process, and changes are inevitable — what you choose may be a stepping stone to something else.