How to Know If & When the Time Is Right to Switch or Tweak Practice Areas

After several years (or perhaps decades!) of practicing in a specific area, it’s no wonder you are considering change. What is prompting your desire for change, though? Boredom? Market changes? A desire to get out completely? Or an internal drive to simply spice things up a bit?

Perhaps the better question to ask, however, is whether you should make a change?

Unsurprisingly, there is no simple answer to this question. But with some soul searching and practical due diligence, you can make your decision with confidence.

3 Soul-Searching Questions to Start Your Inquiry

When deciding to take the plunge into a new practice area, it is imperative you first ask yourself these soul-searching questions:

  • Does the new work interest you? What makes you so sure?
  • Do you already possess the talents and skill set to handle the work required of the new practice area? If you don’t, do you have a plan to learn them in a reasonable amount of time?
  • Does the new practice area play to your strengths in terms of personality and skills?

While I suspect you may read these questions and say “duh,” you’ll be surprised how many attorneys skip this most important step. Take focused time to truly consider the questions before answering. Then move on to the next group of questions.

Due-Diligence Questions to Wrap It Up

Now you must ask yourself more practical, due diligence-type questions such as:

  • What is the market like for the new area? What do you think it will look like five years from now?
  • What about the supply of lawyers? Is there an overabundance in this area, or is it lacking?
  • If you work at a law firm, will firm leadership support your new efforts?
  • Likewise, does the practice area synergize with the law firm’s platform?
  • Can you leverage your existing network to grow the practice?
  • If you need to develop a new network, how difficult do you think it will be?

Can’t Find the Answers? Phone a Friend.

Perhaps the best way to answer these questions is to talk to someone already practicing in the area. Reach out to colleagues and professional contacts. I assure you the lawyers to speak to are likely no more than one-to-two degrees of separation from you. Reach out to them. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many will be more than happy to meet and share information.

During your conversations, ask them what they like and dislike. Discuss the challenges unique to the practice area and any regrets they may have about selecting that line of practice.

The more practical experience and insight you can glean from these conversations, the better off you will be in finding the answers to help you decide which path to take next.

The Choice Is Yours

Your existing practice area may have chosen you. Now may be the time for you to choose it.

I met Roy when he spoke at our state bar annual convention. My firm has more clients than it can handle so I didn’t need his marketing expertise. What I was looking for in a coach was someone who could be a trusted business advisor. Roy helped…" Read the rest
– Owner, small Anchorage, AK law firm

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