Thursday, August 20, 2009

Developing a Niche Market

Turning Your Passions into a Successful Practice Each year our nation's law schools spawn out more and more sharks into the legal pool. With the advent of online degrees, that pool seems to be getting more crowded. So how do you stay above the water in an increasingly competitive market? The most common answer is to develop a niche. There have been many articles written on developing a niche practice. That is, focusing on a particular area of law in which you have developed an expertise. The focus of this article is a little different. It focuses on developing a niche market. Developing a niche market does not have to be difficult or overly complicated. It can be pretty simple. Do you speak a second language? Are you an avid sailor? Do you like to ride motorcycles? Do you play a sport. Why not transform your passions into a new client base. The trick is networking. A problem I often see is many attorneys do not take advantage of skills they already possess. Take for example Joseph. Joe is a colleague of mine who is fluent in Portuguese. He is a local general practitioner whose practice areas include immigration, real estate closings and family law. Despite being fluent in Portuguese, he never mentions it. With an influx of immigrants from Brazil, he was missing a golden opportunity to establish himself with a new market base. Had I known earlier, I would have sent him a flurry of clients Truth be told, I was the same way. I grew up speaking Polish. Frankly, I thought it was a skill that would never serve any purpose in my professional life. I did not realize that there was a growing population of Polish people in my state. Many Poles who fled Poland during the height of communism were now established business owners in the United States. Although there were approximately 300,000 Poles living in Connecticut, I found myself to be one of maybe 5 Polish speaking attorneys that served this underrepresented community. Our firm soon became the "go to" place for legal problems for Poles throughout Connecticut. Although the majority of our clients spoke perfect English, they found comfort speaking in their native language. The influx of clients was so great, we decided to leave our lofty downtown perch to open a branch office in the heart of New Britain, Connecticut's “Little Poland” district. So maybe you don’t speak a second language. Maybe you’re just a regular run of the mill schlep. How do you get to develop your own niche market? You are not an expert in anything. You don't have time to learn a new area of law. To that I say: what do you do? You can’t be a complete lump of coal? Can you? You’d be surprised at the business you can gain from just current common interests. A few years ago, I represented a client who was part of a “Storm Trooper battle garrison”. Basically, these guys get together and dress up as various characters from the movie Star Wars. They volunteer for a variety of events and even march in parades dressed in full “battle armor”. Growing up, I loved Star Wars. Not surprisingly, I was able to “talk shop” with my client. Granted he did make me do all my consultations in a Yoda voice, but it has led to several referrals from likeminded fans. The word was spread that the force was strong with me. Past work experience can also be a factor in developing a niche market. As a high school student, I spent many summers working for an aerospace engineering firm. Not surprisingly, I was able to relate to clients who worked on the machines that produced jet aircraft turbines for our nation’s military. I developed a sense of camaraderie with these machinists. Soon, our practice developed a side niche of clients coming from the aerospace industry. The word had spread. This guy was one of us. Once you develop a small niche, word of mouth can take on a life of its own. If you like reading, join a book club. If you fly, hang out with fellow aviators. Do you enjoy dressing up as an elf and….well, let's just keep that one to yourself. I wish you the best of luck in your practice and invite your comments. _________________________________ For more info on niche marketing, check out attorney Scott Morgan’s Niche Marketing for Lawyers Blawg and Larry Bodine’s law marketing blog. Of course, one of my personal favorites is Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blawg. Remember, every old dog can learn a new trick. From new technology to practice tips, Attorney Calloway's blawg is an excellent resource for the attorney just starting out as well as the curmudgeonly old timer.


Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. said...

This is excellent advice. Developing a niche does build a stronger client base. I also believe that having something in common with your clients makes the relationship more meaningful for both of you.

Steve said...

Hello, I’m a blogger with a new site that you can find here at, and your site is very related to mine. I thought it

would be beneficial for both of us to do a blogroll link exchange (or in-content links). I also have other niche

sites that are looking for link trades as well. Please let me know if you are interested. I also invite you to join

and use the site, if you would like.