In our most recent post, we looked at reasons why a lawyer should focus on a particular specialty when practicing. This week we are going to provide the flipside of the coin. The truth is that there are great reasons for why an attorney should be a generalist. And in the end, the best answer to whether an attorney should specialize or not is largely up to personal preference.
Working within several different areas of the law means that a lawyer will handle a variety of legal cases and legal issues. This variety has the tendency to provide greater interest than just focusing on the same area of the law - day after day. For some, this focus can grow dull or even boring. Variety fuels change. Many attorneys need change and diversification for a more rewarding career.
This is closely tied to the concept of variety. When a lawyer practices across different legal realms, he/she gains a ton more exposure to different legal matters than the lawyer who makes a more specialized living. This exposure, like variety, fuels greater interest and change.
Moreover, the exposure also:
- Creates a more rounded attorney, as experience is gained in many different practice areas; and
- Gives a generalized experience level, so that if a lawyer wants to specialize in the future, he/she can learn of more areas of the law that might become the specialty.
Specialization is Prohibited by Geographic Location
Many attorneys work in small towns and somewhat isolated rural communities. In such circumstances, the location in which the lawyer practice may prevent specialization. Consider, for example, a small town whose residents have many different legal needs, such as:
- Estate planning,
- Business formation,
- Debt relief,
- Consumer protection, and
- Personal injury advice.
Given these disparate concerns, a lawyer doesn’t really have the option to focus on a specialty. Granted, one could. However, he/she would most likely suffer negative financial consequences.
Specialization is Limited by Firm/Corporate Legal Department
The nature of a lawyer’s job may very well dictate a preference for generalization. Some lawyers will prefer working in smaller firms that may take on a variety of cases. In this situation, specialization becomes limited simply because of the firm’s size and operation. Similarly, consider a general counsel of a small company. This professional has no choice but to work across different practice areas. Again, it is the nature of the job that decides the preference for a general workload.
QUID PRO QUO has been in the business of helping legal professionals for almost three decades now. We have assisted many attorneys find awarding opportunities in specialized areas of the law. We have also helped many more find rich openings with employers offering general caseloads. There really is not one right answer as to which opportunity is better. It usually just depends on the candidate and may involve such preferences related to: firm size, work/life balance, geographic location, and salary. Please know that you can always count on us for sound career advice and assistance. Please also contact us if we can provide any help.