A few years ago, Jill Gregory was a door lawyer. What that meant is that she took any kind of case that came in the door. She thought she had to, in order to pay the bills.
That also meant she had to work all the time because she really couldn’t build any systems. When every client that comes in wants something different, there’s not much to build a system around.
And worst of all, Jill didn’t necessarily feel she was always doing her best lawyering that way. Because she was always needing to learn something new to serve each new client, she never created the confidence for herself that comes when you get to dive deep with one or two areas.
Are you a door lawyer and beginning to get the sinking feeling that it just doesn’t work?
Maybe you’ve rationalized it by telling yourself you like the variety, or that you have to take whatever comes because there’s not enough otherwise, or maybe, you are done rationalizing.
If you are done rationalizing I’ve got a solution for you. And the result really can be a practice you love AND still meet your desire for variety AND make a great living — Imagine what that would be like?
Here are a few steps to get your there:
First, identify whether you are someone who likes variety or if you could be happy doing the same type of case with a standard system that has flexibility for customization, but is basically the same thing repeatedly. Neither is better than the other, it’s just a matter of what’s right for you based on personal preference.
If you like variety, begin by identifying a specific type of person you will serve, rather than focusing on the specific practice area you want to serve them with. We will get to that after we know what the people you want to work with need.
Start identifying the people you want to serve (your niche) based on the type of people you have an affinity with, like to spend time with and you think are the “coolest” people you know.
For example, it could be that you love sports and would think it’s super cool to spend time with sports teams and players. Then why not make your niche that industry, that group of people and build yourself a law practice that you can have a lot of fun with?
Or, perhaps you love fashion more than anything. Then why not serve people in the fashion industry so you can get invited to all the parties and events?
For me, in my early years of practice, I was immersed in the world of everything mom-related. So I built my practice to serve families with young children.
Today, I love business and entrepreneurship. So when I take on any legal work, it tends to be for the “stars” in my business community.
Once you’ve selected the people you would love to serve, now you can start looking at what these people really need.
For example, let’s say you decided to serve the young, up and coming Asian population in your community because you are Chinese-American and would love to support more of your community to have lives of ease and harmony. You would look at the legal issues that come up frequently in the community. It could be family members need support with immigration. They all need to think about and plan for what happens if they become incapacitated or die. And, like all people, many of them will need support with businesses and/or bankruptcies, and buying homes.
So, you could become knowledgeable in any combination of immigration, bankruptcy, estate planning, business planning. If you are already well trained in one of these areas, I’d look at focusing there with your niche until you have a steady stream of clients coming in and engaging your services. You’ll do this by well educating your community on this topic, in every forum you possibly can: Newspaper/community papers, in-person meetings/talks with a wide variety of community members, ideally in groups, direct mail, social media, every channel possible.
Then, once you’ve become known in the community as an expert on that first practice area, consider which practice areas to add on to provide additional services to the clients and their families who are already coming to you for one thing and need other services and would much prefer to not have to go to another law firm.
By building out your law practice business model this way, you can have the variety you desire in terms of the different practice areas you serve your clients with, and you can build it systematically so you are not a door lawyer with no systems or expertise taking whatever comes in, but a highly trained and skilled counselor on a variety of issues for one niche.
You become an expert in the niche first with one practice area, then add on additional practice areas that you can systematize to serve that niche.
In the next post, I’ll share with you how to build out your law practice business model if you are not someone who likes a lot of variety, but just wants to build a systematized practice you can work 4 days a week and make plenty of money. I’ll cover which systems you should build and in what order.
For those of you who love the variety, you’ll develop these systems too in the same order, for each practice area you use to serve your clients, so be sure to read the next post no matter what.
Are you ready to become the lawyer you always wanted to be?