For many of my clients I am the only attorney they have (and hopefully will ever have) had. But sometime life can require a good attorney and it’s important to know what you want.
As my professors drilled into me, law school teaches you to think like an attorney. It does not teach you the law. That means we come out of law school really knowing very little about what the law says. I am licensed to practice almost any time of law. That being said, I do not and I do not recommend an attorney who practices a large variety of law.
I focus on estate planning. And I say “focus on” very specifically because ethically attorneys are not allowed to claim expertise or a specialty unless they have extra certifications (i.e. certified Elder Law attorneys). I have focused on and helped hundreds of families with estate planning over the last 6 years. That practical experience helps me fit all of my clients with what I consider the best plan for them.
I feel very comfortable in my knowledge basis and am confident in the legal advice I provide. However, I also do not hesitate to say “I don’t know.” There are many types of law I have no practical experience with (patent law being one of them). Elder law is also a very specific and difficult type of law and one that is can cause problems quickly. As such, I don’t attempt it. When I have clients with elder law questions, I am very quick to refer to an attorney who is Elder Law Certified.
In my opinion, any time you have to hire a professional, especially an attorney, it’s best to find one who has years of experience with your questions. But it’s also just as important to find a professional who will say “I don’t know.”