So, you’ve decided to take your practice solo, congratulations! You’re taking the steps to tackle your legal career goals on your terms, and that’s something to be excited about. Before you get too ahead of yourself, have you considered what are the best practice areas for solo attorneys?
Whether you’re moving away from a law firm or starting out solo, there are several business decisions you must consider if you want to be successful. If you haven’t done so already, you’ll want to get a good grasp on the practice areas you will focus on. This will determine your services, marketing, and entire business model.
Motivation and values
A good starting point when deciding what areas your solo practice will specialize in is finding your ‘why.’ In fact, all attorneys (solo or firm-based) should understand their ‘why’ for going into the legal industry.
This is your main motivation for wanting to practice solo law and will be your driver towards a fulfilling career. Some attorneys look to practice solo because they have more control over their billable hours and greater earning potential. Other attorneys are passionate about a specific practice area and feel they can make a bigger impact on their own. Neither option is better than the other, but it’s important to understand your motivations and values behind your practice. You’ll find more fulfillment and come across more genuine.
This area of law is perfect for solo attorneys who are good with numbers and financial literacy. Many of your clients will owe money to another entity and have declared bankruptcy. For this reason, you’ll need to be comfortable evaluating financial documents to best represent your client. Additionally, if you don’t love going to court, bankruptcy law is for you. Most cases are settled outside of the courtroom.
Civil litigation law
Litigation attorneys or trial lawyers are people who are quickly adaptable and enjoy a busy environment. Civil litigation typically involves disputes between parties seeking monetary damages or judgement based on non-criminal accusations. Since civil litigation law is broad, It’s best for solo attorneys to specialize in specific areas, like family law or medical malpractice.
This area of law is best suited for solo attorneys who can handle being pulled in many directions while also maintaining organization. Civil litigation often involves working very closely with clients, being in court, and out-witting your opposing counsel.
Employment attorneys spend most of their time assisting the employer-employee relationship. This involves reviewing employment contracts, discrimination suits, termination, lay-offs, settlements and more.
Employment law is a great area of practice for solo attorneys who enjoy advocating for the rights of their clients. To best represent your clients, you’ll need to stay up to date on employment and labor legislation and be ready to have difficult conversations. The employee-employer relationship can be sensitive and guiding a client through legal proceedings while also maintaining a sense of empathy can be difficult to manage.
Cases within family law are almost always sensitive, especially when child or separation of a household is at stake. Adding in these factors on top of upholding the law can create a stressful work environment for solo attorneys. On the other hand, family law can also be very rewarding when you are able to better your client’s lives.
Similar to employment law, solo attorneys practicing family law must be able maintain a level of empathy while also helping their clients make difficult legal decisions.
Real Estate law
Real estate attorneys assist their clients with legal property matters. This could include assisting a lender with the sale of property, drawing up contracts, titles, and litigation of tenant-landlord relationships. This area of law is great for solo attorneys who have a knack for attention to detail. Depending on the client, real estate contracts can be long and must include specific language to protect the clients assets surrounding the property.
Solo attorneys who prefer transactional work are a great fit for real estate law. Once a contract is in place, the client will likely only contact you or need your services when there is a breach or conflict that arises.
Choose what’s best for you
At the end of the day, the practice area for solo attorneys comes down to what you want. Figuring out what you’re passionate about or what motivates you is a great first step in finding the best practice area. Next, evaluate your skill set and how you can separate yourself from the pool of solo attorneys.