How to Expand into a New Practice Area

//How to Expand into a New Practice Area

how-to-expand-to-a-new-practice-areaIs your law firm ready to diversify its legal services? Expanding to a new practice area can be professionally rewarding and financially profitable. But there are a few things you should do if you want to diversify and serve all your clients well.

Reach Competence

If you don’t have experience in a practice area, you need to first reach competence or hire a competent associate to fill in the gaps. Here are a few tips:

  • Study the basics. Create your own mini-curriculum so that you can learn the practice area you wish to include in your law firm offerings. It will take years before you can master a practice area but if you have a focused study plan, you can gain a basic understanding of the practice area relatively quickly.
  • Get a mentor. If you’ve been networking regularly, you should already have a few people in your professional network who are experienced in the practice area you’re studying. Reach out to them and ask them to serve as your mentor. Even if you have to pay them for their time, it’s a good investment as you try to get up to speed in the practice area of your choice.
  • Volunteer. As you’re gaining competency in your chosen practice area, consider volunteering your services pro-bono to a charitable organization. This will give you an opportunity to practice your skills and gain valuable experience with clients who badly need your legal expertise.

Once you’ve reached a basic level of competency, you can begin offering your services in that new practice area.

Charge Fairly

If you’re new to a practice area, you will need to consider that in your fee structure. This doesn’t mean that you charge “bargain” rates but it does mean that you charge fees that are in line with your experience and knowledge. And don’t forget, you’re already bringing lawyer experience and skills that is transferable across practice areas.

Be Honest

If you’ve never worked a case in a particular practice area before, be honest with your clients. Let them know that while you haven’t tried a case in that practice area in the past, you do have a lot of experience as an attorney and you will do your best to represent them competently.

Start Small

When you first enter into a new practice area, don’t go for the most complex cases first. Start off with simple cases that will help you get experience and that only require the most basic understanding of the practice area. Once you get a few small cases under your belt, you can expand to more difficult and challenging legal issues.

Hire Someone

Even if you’re a solo-practitioner, hiring another attorney to work with you when you first expand to a new practice area can help you make the leap. Working with an experienced attorney will allow you to take on both simple and complex cases in the new practice area and you will have someone on hand to answer questions.

If planned carefully, expanding to new practice areas can significantly increase your law firm’s revenue and client base.

By |February 9th, 2018|

About the Author:

For years, Josh has helped lawyers become more organized, productive, and profitable. A trained litigator, Josh came to Smokeball from a large east-coast law firm where his practice focused on franchise, insurance, marine, and general litigation. His work with Smokeball, and his continued passion for what he does each day, is driven by a desire to help lawyers and their staff do better in every way. Knowing well the stress and strain put on today’s legal professional, he regularly focuses on improving work and life in the law. He has traveled the country working with and learning from lawyers and their staff. Josh speaks regularly to bar associations about successful law firm practices and other legal topics. Recent notable engagements have been with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference. In addition to his work at Smokeball, Josh serves on the Writing Resource Center staff at The John Marshall Law School. Besides legal technology, his research interests include judicial decision-making, jury decision-making and psychology, and legal writing. He has written and overseen research exploring causal effects of sex/gender on federal appellate court decision-making, and assisted with research for a forthcoming textbook on judicial decision-making. Additionally, Josh sits on the Board of Directors of Chicago-based Community Activism Law Alliance and on the Board of Directors of Chicago Fringe Opera Company. Josh holds his J.D., cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Wash. U. Law Review, held the prestigious Thompson Coburn Research Fellowship, served as Research Assistant to then-Vice-Dean (now Chancellor) Andrew D. Martin, and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.M. in Music Performance with Honors Scholar distinction from the University of Connecticut, making him a Huskies basketball fan through and through. Follow Josh’s activity on LinkedIn, and keep up with new articles on the Smokeball Blog.