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Niche This!

Should you create a niche market for your law practice? You would typically find this topic more in the business / corporate world. I believe it is important to any business owner in any industry. Law Firms are starting to catch on. Everyone has a process by which they go through to reach certain goals. When starting my solo firm I was a firm believer that I should develop and promote a particular area of the law that I would be known as the expert in. This is not a post about actually developing a niche (maybe I’ll write about that next) but this is more about my own way of evaluating whether a niche market is a viable option to grow myself in. I believe others could benefit from the following questions I asked myself as I developed my niche.

First let’s review a couple of definitions per Wikipedia.com:

1) Niche Market: the subset of the market on which a specific product is focusing.
2) Passion: a very strong feeling about a person or thing.

What are you passionate about?

I’ve read blogs, books, and attended conferences about developing a niche market and they all agree on one thing. You have to have passion. We start here because people like doing business with people who enjoy, with enthusiasm, what they are doing on a daily basis. People feel it when you love what you are doing, they enjoy it when you enjoy it, and they know when you are faking it. Let’s face it, wouldn’t you prefer doing something you truly adore engaging in on a daily basis? Take a moment and think about answers to the following questions. What type of activity do you enjoy spending time on, reading about, and sharing with others? If you didn’t have to worry about billable hours what type of work would you gain pleasure from?

What do you know already?

Many of us already have a background or skill sets in certain areas. How can you drill down on an area where you have experience? Think of it as an upside down pyramid, where the bottom is your niche and the top is all areas of knowledge. The more you narrow your niche down the further you go down the pyramid and your skill set will lead you to a logical niche. What areas are you already versed at and could dig a little deeper to develop?

Who do you know already?

Ask clients what their needs are. Ask other attorneys where they see future work coming from. This might just open up ideas that you had not thought about. That’s what happened to me. Be open. If you are interested in another area of the law seek out who would be potential clients and ask them what their needs are. This is what I call informal market research.

Does it make business cents (yes, I meant CENTS)?

Could you make money at this niche market? This relates back to the previous question. If there are potential clients and you are able to meet their needs then the niche might be a viable option. Are you still not sure if this a workable option for you? Give some pro bono time in the area you wish to have a niche or grow your expertise in. You might actually get some work and figure out it’s not what you thought and you can move on quickly. Or on the other side you could enjoy it, do good work, and develop a client. Hence, you now have a niche market.

Having a strong niche makes personal and business sense. Being the go to person on a particular area of the law gives referral sources and clients an easy way to find you. It is okay if it takes time to adopt where you would like to take your practice. As long as you are making positive progress you are moving in the right direction.

About the Author

Tenicia Vanzant practices law from her virtual law office in her home state of Michigan.  She focuses on helping small businesses with an emerging interest in alternative energy law.  Tenicia strives to be efficient in all areas of her life and that includes the business of the law.  She uses social media, software and online law firm management to run her online law office. Her motto is “there’s always room for improvement”. She can be reached at tvanzant@orionlegalservices.com

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