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Solo In Chicago

...empowering the Second City's entrepreneurial legal community

Friday, June 15, 2007

How to go from generalist to specialist?

Thanks for some of the great comments in recent days encouraging specialization in the practice of law. Going a step or two further, and I'm sort of describing the debate that's going on inside my head rather than suggesting I have an answer, what if you are too much of a lawyer generalist...how do you transition toward being that desired expert/specialist?

I'd guess that my journey towards sole practitioner and arguably too much of a generalist, is fairly common. When my solo firm was started some 2+ years ago I had practiced in 3-4 practice areas primarily based on the practice areas of the two employers I'd worked for previously. So those 3-4 practice areas were what I knew (to some degree) and that along with the need to "pay the bills" led me to probably be a bit too general. We're say 60% various forms of family law, 20% residential real estate, 10% trusts/estates and 10% landlord-related matters. I certainly turn down cases where I'm not competent but at the same time there certainly are situations where I feel like my knowledge isn't specific enough in some of the nuances of our practice.

If you have a practice like mine or even a more general solo practice with maybe some corporate work too, how do you choose which area becomes the "new" speciality? What drives the choice? Your interests? Market-based analysis? Both? Other factors?


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