In an age when it’s tempting for lawyers to try to be everything to everyone, it is important to carve out a niche and differentiate yourself from the rest. However, finding a niche isn’t just about differentiating yourself — it can allow for a more efficient practice that offers more value to clients and captures premium rates because of its targeted knowledge. By picking a law speciality and using creative business strategies, lawyers can focus their actions and stand out to clients.
Rewards of Building a Niche Law Practice Include:
- You limit the competition when you specialize.
- You are more easily able to differentiate yourself and your practice.
- Clients seek out lawyers with extensive knowledge in a particular field.
- Law firms are looking for highly specialized attorneys since finding legal professionals with specialized skills is somewhat or very challenging.
- Companies are also hungry for niche lawyers so they don’t have to hire expensive outside help.
- You can make a living in a field you love.
Oftentimes, when lawyers first hang their shingle, they’re inclined to take any case that comes through the door. After all, when you’re starting out, it can be tough to turn away work. That’s why many solo and small law firms start out as general practices.
But after a while, as you identify the areas of law that interest you most, it becomes time to narrow down your areas of focus and to accept only those matters that truly inspire you to practice law. But how exactly do you go about doing that? And how do you lay the groundwork so that your newly focused niche practice will be a successful one?
So how do you find your niche? The lawyers who have done it recommend the following steps:
Step 1: Follow your Passions
Find a legal area of specialization you love because you will be immersed in it for your career. If you are already practising in a general area, find a niche within that area. For example, some family law attorneys decided to specialize in divorce and become a divorce lawyer. When it comes to choosing your niche areas of focus, make sure you’ve identified practice areas that inspire you each and every day. Practice law that makes you feel good about yourself and the clients that you’re serving, not the kind of cases you think you should be handling.
Step 2: Build your Expertise
Being recognized as the expert in your field is one of the best steps you can take in your practice, both for improving your competence as a lawyer as well as improving your marketing competitiveness. Start by thinking about the end result: If someone looked at your biography, what kind of credentials would verify your expertise in your chosen niche? Investigate the publications and events that are prominent in your specific field, and pursue opportunities to demonstrate your subject mastery.
Step 3: Create a Client Profile
It is important to create a client profile for your niche practice. The profile will help ensure that you’ve chosen the right niche(s) for your needs and will also drive all of your marketing and client service choices. It is only when you have a good picture of who your ideal clients are that you can move forward to determine what is important to them, where to find them, how to attract them, how best to serve them, what processes and procedures need to be in place, what employees will work best with those clients, and more.
Step 4: Narrow your Brand
Think about your favourite brand. You love it because you had a positive experience that has earned your respect and business. People are making similar judgments about your law firm. Sometimes these judgments occur before they even speak to someone there. Say a person is in urgent need of legal advice and he/she does quick google search but the website of the law firm is slow to load and hasn’t been updated in the last couple of months, the potential client is likely to leave the website. Perhaps that firm had the best attorneys, but they didn’t make much of an effort to convince the client of that. The firm lacked the branding and marketing necessary to appeal to the potential client with no previous knowledge of the firm. The trick here is to ensure that you communicate a clear and consistent brand well to potential clients throughout your marketing.
If you can identify an underserved need in the market, go for it. Say you are a family lawyer and you find that there are very few or no attorneys focusing on child trafficking, you can become a specialist and focus on the niche.
Step 5: Set Yourself Up for Referrals from Other Lawyers
You must consider ways to position yourself horizontally with other lawyers so that they’ll refer you cases in your niche practice area. Clients need lawyers with strong practice experience and extensive knowledge of their business. No single law firm can be everywhere which is why building and maintaining a lawyer referral network is important and is something you should learn to do well to help grow your law practice. Having a network with successful niche lawyers will also help you with your day-to-day queries and the niche lawyers with many years of experience can also help you understand how they discovered their specialization and what additional skills or certifications may be necessary for you to excel in those areas when you are starting out in your initial years.
Step 6: Market Effectively to your Niche Target Clients
And last, but not least, set up a marketing plan that makes it easy for potential clients to find your new niche practice. The presenters advise using both paid and organic online channels to reach potential clients.
There are many ways to market to a niche audience. The trick is finding the right channels for your particular niche. It is important to create a rapport and trust with the people you would like as clients. This means that you have to begin devoting yourself to knowing everything you can about the industry or group you would like to cultivate as clients. First, take the time to find out everything you can about the industry or niche that you have chosen. Find out where they exchange information, what magazines they read, to what associations they belong, what television shows they watch, what books they are reading, and what websites they are visiting. What is your industry or niche talking about to each other? In marketing, it is called “listening” to your target.
Overall, it can be said that lawyers who have a niche are in high demand. Demand for candidates with the hottest skills and backgrounds exceeds the current supply, which is intensifying competition, so lawyers who have a niche area of specialization are very marketable. Specializing also benefits the client. Every industry has a need and its own special nuances that make it different. Those nuances are where a niche attorney becomes so valuable. Once you become valuable, you’ll become known as the “fill-in-the-blank attorney.” But simply calling yourself a niche attorney doesn’t make you one. It often takes a lot of hard work, extra education and even some luck to get to where you become the fill-in-the-blank attorney. So don’t be discouraged if you haven’t found your fit just yet, or if you’re just starting out and don’t know all of your options. With time and experience, you will eventually be able to carve out your niche. And as they say, it’s the niches that lead to the riches, that has never been more true than it is today.