Lawyers should do the kind to work they enjoy and for the clients they like. Duh, you may say, thinking that that is a simplistic and obvious statement. Not so fast. That may be the ideal, but not often accomplished. According to David Maister in his famous book True Professionalism (pages 23-24) he found in his surveys of lawyers over the years that a majority either merely tolerated or disliked the work they did and the clients they represented.
There are practical reasons that lawyers shouldn’t take all the work that comes their way. If they concentrate in a niche practice and even more so on specific industry(ies), they will be better service providers. With a better understanding of their clients’ business and industry, they will assuredly be more successful both in their technical abilities and business development skills.
A common complaint I’ve heard in surveying law firm clients over three decades is that lawyers do not understand the client’s business. It is one reason that clients will not use a particular lawyer or firm again. Gerry Riskin in a post on Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices points out:
“Clients are hungry to find lawyers who really understand their businesses, but some firms are reluctant to market their services to specific industries.”
Unfortunately, some law firms don’t market to industry segments because they are afraid they’ll miss out on other work. The solution is to list numerous industry segments in a firm’s areas of practice, and provide links to more information about the firm’s experience in each. So, list dozens of industries where the firm has experience.
In today’s competitive legal market, it is logical for lawyers to focus their practices and not try to be all things to all comers. Marketing to industry segments is one way to do that to benefit both the clients and the firm.