Becoming an expert in a particular area of law is one of the best ways you can improve competence and set you and your firm above the rest. Add value to what you do in your law firm by becoming an expert at something. Here’s how:
#1: Know the rules
Most clients look for and demand individualized expertise when they seek legal representation. However, most state bar associations will not permit attorneys to hold themselves out as specialists unless they’ve been certified by an organization accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). But, you can still promote yourself in a way that implies you’re a specialist, without compromising the of your state in your marketing efforts.
#2: Learn more about your passion
There are many ways legal professionals can learn more about a particular area of law or specialty. Look for training courses that offer continuing legal education (CLE) credits. You can also attend conferences and industry events, such as our upcoming Legal Up virtual conference. Or you can join ABA specialty groups that focus on various practice areas and will give you immediate access to online legal resources and analyses. You should try to read all the regulations, case studies, and books written by other legal experts on your preferred specialty.
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#3: Research and write about your interest area
Researching and writing an article related to your interest area is a great way to learn more about your passion and, at the same time, establish yourself as an expert at your firm. Having an article published in a journal read by other legal professionals can lead to referrals, speaking opportunities and conveys to colleagues and potential clients that your knowledge on the subject leads others to look to you for direction.
#4: Make yourself available to the media
Journalists and reporters are frequently looking for experts to provide communication, analysis, and insight for articles. Although some legal professionals are reluctant to offer comments to the media, the free publicity that those who are willing to be a source receive not only helps them build their public profile, but also be considered an expert within a specific area. If a reporter knows that a call to your office will yield valuable information, that journalist will look to this source – preferably you – time after time.
#5: Show that you care
Remember, you’re becoming an expert not only because you want to advance in your career, but also to make your firm more successful. Strong business relationships are built when clients understand that you and your firm will do everything possible to help them solve a legal issue, reach a goal, and earn their trust.
#6: Teach others what you’ve learned
Find ways to document your findings. Create a legal blog, journal, website, or speak at a conference and describe what you’ve learned. Sharing your knowledge with others could encourage you to master your expertise in your chosen area even further, and investigate issues not covered through study or instruction alone.
#7: Take care of your reputation
As a legal professional, your reputation is essential. It typically takes years to develop, and a single misstep can seriously damage or destroy it. Protect your reputation by doing your best work, always treating your clients with respect, and work to grow into the most successful legal professional (and expert) you can be.
#8: Remain patient but dedicated
Becoming an expert isn’t going to happen overnight – you will probably need to put in a lot of work to get there. In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes that it can take up to 10,000 hours of practice to achieve proficiency in a particular field. However, don’t let this discourage you. While you likely won’t have to devote that much time to become an expert, you will have to be extremely dedicated to your area of expertise.
Do you know of other ways to become an expert in your law office? How are you honing your skills while proving yourself to be a valuable member of your firm?