There are some professions in which it may benefit an individual to have a broad but shallow understanding of many different skills. For example, a property maintenance specialist likely needs to know a little bit of plumbing, understand basic electrical work and feel comfortable mudding drywall. Too much specialization in any one area might detract from their overall ability to maintain a property.
In other professions, appropriate specialization in one area and an intense focus on mastering that specialty can be of the utmost importance for someone’s overall ability. In the legal profession, that is almost always true. No single attorney can provide competitive representation in each separate area of law. Even within specializations, there are niches.
Lawyers have to choose an area of specialization
There are completely separate legal statutes that apply to personal injury cases as opposed to criminal cases. Lawyers will often choose a few areas in which they focus or may drill down into one particular niche within a specialization.
The nature of someone’s legal issue will determine whether they need the support of a general family law attorney or someone who specializes in qualified domestic relations orders specifically. Unfortunately, some lawyers will make promises that they cannot follow through on when taking on new clients or hearing from existing clients about a new issue that is outside of their typical expertise. Rather than referring those clients to others to ensure they receive the best representation possible, some attorneys will knowingly accept cases that will be their first in a particular area of practice or that are well outside of their comfort zone.
Over-promising can be a form of malpractice
Lawyers should be honest with clients about their knowledge and experience. Particularly when attorneys do not have anyone else serving an advisory role and they do not inform their clients of their lack of expertise in a particular area of law, they may do a real disservice to the people or businesses that hire them by taking on cases they do not have the experience and knowledge to properly manage.
The client could make the wrong choice or have to endure an unfavorable outcome directly related to the lawyer’s failings. Realizing after a poor outcome to a court case that an attorney failed in some crucial way by not understanding the law or by giving inaccurate advice may frustrate those who have paid for professional legal assistance.
Once people realize they did not receive the assistance they needed, they may be in a position to take legal action against the attorney who failed them significantly because they did not disclose their lack of experience or knowledge in a particular area of law. Filing a legal malpractice claim can result in financial compensation for those who have received substandard legal guidance and may result in consequences for the attorney who oversold their abilities.