Is there such a thing as too General (Practitioner?)

My colleague Matt Homann made an excellent point in his blog today. He wrote that clients, “don’t have general needs, they have specific ones;” and that those clients “want you to be great at solving their problem[s].”  Matt called this The General Practitioner’s Dilemma.

This is an issue I run into a lot when helping clients with branding. Many small firms or sole practitioners want to list every area of practice on their websites because they are afraid that if they don’t list an area they could lose a client. My response is and remains this very simple cliché, “Jack of all trades expert in none.” Normally I mess up the quote, but the lawyers always get the idea.

No one can possibly be an expert in every area of practice. Law is simply too complicated these days. And if you insist on putting every area of practice on your site, smart clients will assume you don’t really know what you are doing in the area for which they need assistance. In addition, you are just asking for a malpractice suit as you struggle to understand an area you don’t really know.

If you get the majority of your business from a couple areas of law, your website should focus on those areas. The reality is, except in very small counties with very few attorneys, no sole practitioner or very small firm is handling enough cases in ten or fifteen different areas to honestly say they practice in all of those areas.

Your website and marketing efforts should focus on the areas in which you and your firm truly practice. Build your client base in those areas instead of just hoping people will walk through the door in any area. If you focus your efforts, you will have plenty of income and won’t need that random, irrelevant case.

Keep in mind successful lawyers make efficient use of their time. Efficient use does not include spending time researching basic law or figuring out how to handle a brand new area. Unless, of course, you are a new attorney or are seeking to change the area(s) in which you practice.

Brand yourself as an attorney or firm who practices in the areas that you truly know and in which you actually receive clients. That way you can limit your marketing efforts, send the right message about yourself as an attorney who limits himself to specific areas, and seek out clients in the areas where you can be most efficient and effective in your representation.

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