Have you ever seen a solo attorney or small firm website that offers 17 areas of law? You know the type — they do family law, bankruptcy, real estate, estate planning, contracts, business law, and probate. If this is you, I don’t mean to throw shade, as the young folks say.
When a lawyer presents herself as a jack of all trades, it’s a safe bet that she is a master of none. (Fun fact: Some accounts claim that the complete saying is “a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” This is not helping my argument!)
While some lawyers are skilled enough to know many areas and practice them well, the vast majority of lawyers are limited in the depth of learning associated with varied and often nonrelated areas of law. Take me, for example. I am an estate planning lawyer. I started out doing school law, family law, business law, estate planning, and probate. I soon realized that I couldn’t competently and confidently take on prospective clients in all of the areas advertised on my website because I didn’t know enough. Yes, throughout my career, I have done a matter or two in various fields, but I couldn’t keep up with the rigor of staying up to date in all areas.
I decided to stick solely with estate planning, even letting probate go because I didn’t enjoy those matters. You, too, can streamline your practice this way.
Decide Which Area(s) You Enjoy Most
Ideally, it would be wonderful to stick to just one area of law. The reality is that many small firms don’t have the luxury of turning away business. If that is you, pick two to three areas, preferably complementary, to begin. Then, within those areas, determine the type of matters you enjoy. For example, you can create estate plans but avoid any special needs trust planning or elder law.
Define The Clients You Enjoy Serving
Narrowing down your ideal client is an exercise that revolutionizes your practice. Trust me. You can see and know your people from a mile away. My niche is women who are breadwinners. When they read the copy on my website and consume the content, they know they want to work with my firm. However, this doesn’t mean that you turn other types of business away. It just allows you to attract and serve those with whom you best align.
Decide How You Will Present Your Services
When you decide on your service area(s), explain the value you bring to clients. Share stories, client testimonials, and reviews. Emphasize that you limit your practice areas so you can go deeper in your knowledge base. This is the best way I have found to attract and retain estate planning clients. I tell them that my law firm only does estate planning; this knowledge converts well.
Evaluate Whether It Works
You must keep clients coming through the door, so look at the data to see whether your plan works. If it doesn’t, go back to the drawing board and try something different: service area, clients, exposure. Just because you don’t figure out your formula the first time doesn’t mean you can’t niche down. Keep trying.
It is possible to sustain a thriving practice with a limited-service menu. Let me know if you agree by emailing me at email@example.com
Iffy Ibekwe is the principal attorney and founder of Ibekwe Law, PLLC. She is an estate planning attorney evangelist for intergenerational wealth transfer with effective wills and trusts. Iffy is writing her first book on culturally competent estate planning, available in 2022 (prayers up!). She graduated from The University of Texas School of Law and has practiced law for over 14 years. Iffy can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on her website, and on Instagram @thejustincaselawyer.