Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Specialize in Something(s)

Generally speaking, the most successful lawyers (by any measure: financial, personal satisfaction, recognition) are the specialists. I am qualified to say this, having been a misguided generalist all these years. Here are some things we can observe about specialists:

1. They know their stuff. When we generalists are up against a specialist, we know our stuff too, to a point, but on more substantial cases we are soon "out of our element", we are in THEIR element.
2. They get paid more.....and with confidence, and they should, they give their clients value.
3. They tend to find their chosen field interesting and exciting. I have been a generalist because I find all areas of law interesting, to talk and think about, and to strategize about, but to actually DO.....not so much fun. Have we all, as generalists, had the experience of calling someone who "really knew"? I'd like to be that person all day long.
4. They have systems geared for their specialty......we have general, all purpose systems, that work....to a point....and then our inefficiencies haunt us.
5. They know the players in their field, and they know the fakers (us).

I have two main pieces of advice for general practitioners:

1. Specialize in something(s). Even if you are still a generalist, have one or two areas where you act like a specialist. Define yourself by it "I'm a ________ lawyer", make systems for it, take extra CLE in it, follow all the cases, and otherwise get really good at it.

2. Specialize in general practice......I think this IS a specialty unto itself....more on this tomorrow.........

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