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December 13, 2006

Casting Call "Passed the Bar - Hung a Shingle" Part II

Just to keep everyone updated, I  have had several newly minted lawyers letting me know they have just passed the bar and are in the process of hanging a shingle.  One even said she has to be a generalist because "all the areas of law are so exciting for her to learn, she doesn't know what to pick!"  Isn't that the solo spirit!!!!

However, their websites are under construction.  As soon as they are available we will be posting them on the honor roll. 

Congratulations to everyone and keep those e-mails coming! 

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RJON@HowToMakeItRain.com

While I admire the enthusiasm of the newly solo lawyer you mentioned it concerns me that by failing to discipline herself to one or two complimentary practice areas, she may be setting herself up for a rocky road that's much harder than it has to be. Here's why. . .

As a new lawyer the person in question will have to learn a whole host of new skills including marketing, workflow & process management, financial management of her new business, client management and oh yeah, she'll also have to learn an area of the law well enough to perform services for her clients in an efficient-enough way as to offer value to them and generate a profit for herself.

Having been deep into the bowels of all different kinds of practices in my capacity of a Practice Management Advisor with The Florida Bar's Law Office Management Assistance Service, I would point out to any lawyer looking to go into multiple practice areas at the same time, that the business processes, client-management strategies, staff temperments, billing options, and marketing approaches that make an immigration firm function smoothly, for example are very different from the things one must do to operate a family law practice as just one other example.

It's kind of like deciding to open a fast food restaurant at the same time you decide to open a grocery store. Sure, they both sell food, but they are very different kinds of businesses and trying to open both at the same time, particularly if you've never run either type of business before, is a mistake.

Instead, the strategy I've seen many enthusiastic new lawyers employ with great success is to pick one narrow area of the law where you can concentrate, develop a reputation so you can get referrals from other attorneys, get experience running that kind of law firm and then hone your law office management skills enough until you can run the office and generate your target income working only part-time. Then, use your free time, proven management skills and stable cash flow to embark on another area of the law.

A word to the enthusiastic new lawyer reading this: I know what you might be feeling after reading this. Like I'm trying to pigeon-hole you. And that if you don't try everything now, you may wake up years in the future and find yourself stuck practicing in an area of the law that you don't love. Or that if you don't take on all different kinds of cases you'll never get enough experience and/or that you'll be leaving money on the table.

DON'T WORRY ABOUT ANY OF THAT. It is remarkably easy to transition from one practice area to another. Once you develop a reputation amongst your referral sources as a lawyer who treats your clients right, that reputation will follow you for years through many different practice areas. It's not something most experienced lawyers like to discuss, but the fact of the matter is that the legal industry changes. Laws change, the economy changes, social pressures change too. And successful lawyers regularly reinvent themselves to keep pace and change with the market. So don't make the learning curve any more difficult than it has to be by trying to tackle multiple learning curves in tandem. Instead, master the first one and then apply those skills and resources to the next.

Respectfully,

RJON ROBINS
www.HowToMakeItRain.com
Helping Lawyers In Small Firms Make ALOT More Money

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