Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Specializing in General Practice

Is general practice a specialty?
Just "doing general practice" is the antithesis of a specialty, and will have all the pitfalls of an unfocused activity. It will have all the problems and few of the benefits that specialists reap.
However, if you do general practice RIGHT, if you "specialize" in it, it can be as rewarding as any specialty. Here are a few ideas:
1. Make great referrals. This is the backbone of specializing in general practice. It is analogous to a medical GP. Patients rely on them to identify what specialty they need, and make the referral. There are GP's who are great at this, and others whose network may be weak. As attorney GP's, our referral network is one of our most valuable assets. It should always be growing, it should be alive and lively. By the way, I encourage all GP's to receive proper and ethical fees on referrals made. Contrary to what attorneys sometimes think, the ethical rules tell you exactly how to do this. We are one of the few professionals that spells it out. I am tired of self-righteous attorneys who view the ethical rules on referrals strictly for what you can't do (and yes, there are things you can't do). But, the rules tell you what you CAN do, and you should welcome opportunites to make referrals......more on this tomorrow
2. Learn to say no and respectfully decline losing situations. If you can't make a referral, and its not for you, DON'T get involved. Have a form declination letter and USE it. Resist the urge to "just write a letter".
3. Take pro bono cases by choice, not by default. Never rationalize your mistakes (the ones where you hate the client and aren't being paid) by saying they are "pro-bono". Learn from the mistake, and find pro bono cases where you care.
4. Constantly improve the way you handle the cases you DO take.....your specialties within your general practice.
5. Specializing in general practice is a philosophical approach. Any associates and support staff should understand what you are doing. This will help your referral network develop.....

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