Monday, April 19, 2010

Do You Know?

"Do you know where you're going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you?
Where are you going to? Do you know?"

"Do you get what you're hoping for?
When you look behind you there's no open door.
What are you hoping for? Do you know?"

-Diana Ross

Law students, recent graduates and other young or newer lawyers often tell me that they are too new to pick a practice area, they don't know what kind of law they want to practice and they don't know where they are going. They just want a job, or to open a practice, or to start getting more clients.

They have no idea what they want, what to get into or how or why to choose an area or two for practice. Like many lawyers, new ones and experienced ones, they are afraid to pick one or two practice areas and say no to other areas and other potential clients because they may be turning down an opportunity to get paid. They know this can lead to a serious juggling act trying to be a jack of all trades and providing an answer to everyone, but they are young, energetic, eager and in need of money. It often leads to unfocused marketing, wasted time and money, exhaustion, frustration and burnout. It doesn't lead to top of mind awareness with potential clients or referral sources.

In contrast, a lawyer I met last week at the sports law conference said that she thinks the key question to ask yourself is not what kind of law you want to practice, but who do you want calling you? Who do you want to work with? I think it's a more personal way of asking yourself who you want to represent.

Yes, this question may lead to the same answer as what kind of law do you want to practice, but it may get you to the answer a lot sooner and with a better understanding of why. You may not know enough about practice areas to know which to choose, where there is going to be growth and opportunity and which area is well suited for you. But from your life experience, you probably have some idea about how you relate with people and with whom who you might like to work.

If you are already established as a lawyer in a practice area, I think it's also a very good question to use to develop a niche within your area of practice. The answer can help you refine and really focus your marketing efforts and resources.

If you are an estate planning lawyer, what demographic do you want to call you? If you are a business transactions lawyer, what type of business owner do you want to call you? Small, medium, large, startup, fairly new or established? If you are a divorce lawyer, who do you want calling you? Young marrieds, older couples, established and wealthy, up and comers? If you are a criminal defense lawyer, do you want to represent everyone, or do you want to work with young defendants, only defendant charged with felonies, juveniles, all in one county or across multiple counties, etc.? Even think about who you want calling you and working with you as referral sources.

Who do you want to work with? Who do you want calling you?

If you would like coaching to start identifying your ideal potential clients and develop more business, please contact me.