Specialised knowledge – the road to …

[It should be] fame and fortune.

But is it?

“Knowledge paves the road to riches – when you know which road to take.”

Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich, p.99

Too much of your success in legal practice is predicated on establishing a practice based on work you have done in the past. You fall into contentious or non-contentious work but you don’t really know what you will enjoy.

I have banged on and at time berated you for choosing something for the financial reward, rather than an area that genuinely floats your boat but I wonder how many people have questioned their chosen area sufficient to change? Bugger all I suspect!

The truth of the matter is that you know no different.

You are so fearful that in changing areas you might lose everything that you call a career. But in many respects it is not you, and you know it.

If you want to be wonderfully successful and enjoy what you do then you have to combine your love of an area of law or a market sector with the fee earning that is the sine qua non of what it means to be a lawyer. I love sport and by being persistent I managed to pin down this area of work, even though I had no way of knowing if it would amount to a row of beans.

What really does float your boat?

What sort of clients do you really want to work for?

And are you committed enough to the area so that your passion spills over to the client engagement?

Specialised knowledge is key to your success. You need to work on your craft and become the best in the world. No, I’m not joking. If you can ascribe the label “The Best in the World” then marketing becomes an unwelcome distraction or certainly you don’t have to listen to the usual nonsense about growing your practice.

I have mentioned one hundred million times the need to go to work on your job. For me it is all about becoming the best that you truly are. If you can’t say that in your chosen area then no one will follow you. You will just be part of the also ran population.


Pick an area of law that inspires you.

Learn everything and more about that area.

Piece together as many standard documents as possible.

Offer your services to your chosen cohort of clients and don’t be afraid to talk it up.

Accept that the best person wins.

And if your firm can’t see the wood for the trees go somewhere else.

~ Julian Summerhayes ~