Part 2 – Weathering the Storms:Tips for Managing Your Legal Practice

December 23, 2011

Last week’s edition of “Weathering the Storms: Tips for Managing your Legal Practice” suggested the tip of innovation through seven new business models. This week, the journey continues with additional tips to stay afloat during the turbulent economic storm.

Diversify your practice.

Although certain legal practice areas continue to struggle, there are others that are doing well despite of – and in some cases because of – the economy.  According to The National Jurist, some of the “red hot” legal practice areas right now include banking, health care, energy and intellectual property.  White collar crime, immigration, regulatory work, financial services, and labor & employment law are predicted to remain hot in 2012.

Alternatively, one might consider moving to a parallel practice area that might not be too far out of reach from a current practice area, such as:

  • Residential real estate to foreclosure transactional work
  • Commercial real estate to mortgage and financial fraud litigation
  • Small business law to bankruptcy
  • Employment law to insurance defense

It may take effort to learn some new things but take these words of Louisa May Alcott to heart during these times, “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”  Learn how to be both the skipper and the crew and you can go anywhere and do anything.

Yet another route may be to alter your course altogether.

In “Hunting Happy: In Grim Times, a Search for Joy in Law Practice Gains Ground”, authors Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple share stories about attorneys leaving the practice of law altogether to find career satisfaction or finding passion in the practice of law from a different perspective.

The article points out that not only has the recession highlighted the value of work-life balance by temporarily restoring it for many lawyers, it has also prompted more lawyers to take control and focus on building a more satisfying career.  Gillespie and Temple go on to state that “too many lawyers have chosen an area of law, a type of firm—or even the profession itself—for the wrong reasons.”  The authors conclude, “Sometimes finding happiness in law means tweaking the career path, remaining open to new possibilities and taking a positive approach.”

Someday I hope to own my own sailboat and may possibly call her “Invictus” after the poem by William Ernest Henley. His sage words of wisdom echo my beliefs:  “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul”.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to periodically check my compass to stay on course. But should the winds change, I’ll be prepared to sail away from the safe harbor and will trust that the direction I am steering in life is the right one.

What direction are you steering in life?  Interested in learning more about alternative practice areas?  WestlawNext can help.  Try it free for two weeks.  Maybe you’ll find a new course in your legal practice to help you weather the current economic storms.

Part 1 – Weathering the Storms: Tips for Managing Your Legal Practice