A front door attorney is a lawyer who has no special area of practice. While the moniker may not be exactly correct, it is said he or she will take anything that walks through the front door as a possible case. Of course, most attorneys will choose cases based on their existing workloads and individual merits of the situation.
In addition to being a front door attorney, or generalist, an attorney also has the possibility of practicing in a number of different specialties. Such attorneys tend to attract clients who have very complicated cases and are in need to additional expertise in their area of interest. In those cases, the rate paid for a specialist is generally higher than a general practice, or front door attorney. Common specialties of legal services include tax law, personal injury law, corporate law, criminal law and family law, such as divorce and custody situations.
While the name front door attorney may seem like a criticism, these attorneys can still add significantly to the field of law. The legal cases they start often can still be very high profile. At the very least, the rates they charge, when compared to the specialist, help make the legal system more accessible to the general population.
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Generally speaking, front door attorneys may be found in situations where there are not a lot of lawyers practicing, such as in rural locations. In these situations, a front door attorney has no need to worry about specialization as the competition is not that great. Often, there will be enough clients for all lawyers in the area. Specialization often occurs because the market is oversaturated with attorneys in the general field of practice or because the lawyer has a special interest in the field.
Further, in most cases, people needing legal counsel will find they can do just fine with a front door attorney. Reviewing contracts, real estate documents, business matters and even handling many civil and criminal matters are relatively straight forward. If the case has many unusual complications, however, a specialist may be better. Often, however, experience matters more than specialization.
Most front door attorney practices can be found under the general heading of attorneys in the phone book. This is usually the first listing, before listings by specialization. No matter what type of attorney one is seeking, it is always good to ask for references, years of experience and other such information before making a commitment. This is a serious purchase and is often regarding very serious matters.