Setting up your law firm can be a difficult task, but the challenges are well worth the rewards. Whether you’re building on the foundation of an existing practice or you’re creating your firm from scratch, there are multiple areas of the process that require time and careful consideration on your part. For instance: your law firm’s name, its vision, and its specialization.
Choosing a specialization can be tricky, especially if you had your heart set on being a ‘general’ law firm. Generalization, however, can bring you no end of trouble. Having a specialization gives your law firm a marketing and referral advantage. It also gives you and your (potential) staff an area of focus, consequently improving your chances of success when handling cases.
So how does one go about picking a specific field for their law firm?
Check Your Vision
Your vision is the foundation of your law firm. It tells people, essentially; who you are, what you want to achieve, and how you can help them. Consider your vision as a succinct summary of your personal goals as an individual lawyer and your overall goal as a new practice. Ergo, it is crucial that your specialization lines up with it; otherwise, you risk compromising your priorities and integrity.
For instance, if you want to help employees who are facing discrimination in their workplace or are receiving less than minimum wage, your specialization should lean more towards corporate, employment, or labor law. If you’re a litigation law firm or you choose to specialize in criminal law that is already a massive disconnect from your vision.
You can narrow down your choices even further by seeking counsel from experienced attorneys. Reach out to your mentors, former teachers, and other lawyers that you have connections with and ask for brutal honesty. Choose lawyers that work in the areas you’re considering and take all that they’re willing to give you: anecdotes, personal experiences, recommendations, and advice which you’ll find these all to be incredibly valuable in the long run.
If you don’t have connections in a specific area of law, seek out attorneys who do pro-bono work and see if you can set up a quick interview with them. Ten or fifteen minutes of their time is all you need. Be as direct and as open as possible when explaining your situation. Ask pointed questions about what they do, what a typical day is like for them at work, why they chose this area of specialization, and so on.
Getting first-hand reports about specific sectors may afford you a little more clarity on your best options.
Don’t Decide Immediately
After you’ve reviewed your vision and gotten a more in-depth look at the different fields available to you, take a step back. Organize your notes, summarize your research, and give yourself a moment to breathe.
Building a law firm takes time. Choosing a specialization is no different.
Once you have all your options laid out in front of you, don’t be afraid to take the time you need to review each one thoroughly. Weigh the benefits against the disadvantages. Analyze each one to see how well it fits with your vision. And once you’ve made a choice, leave it alone for a few days. Focus on other areas of your law firm. Take a break and hang out with friends.
The time away will give you a chance to clear your mind, so that when you review the options again, you’re doing so with a fresh set of eyes and a renewed perspective. If you’re still sure with your initial decision, then you’ve found your specialization. If not, go through the whole process again. Review, organize, and then step away.
Do not be afraid to take the time you need. Your decision will affect how you conduct your practice for the foreseeable future. It’s imperative that you make it under the best possible circumstances.