Ah, the joys of niching down! Specialization in a particular field of law has numerous benefits, from enabling attorneys to focus on building their experience and expertise, to marketing themselves as a true authority.
As you know, in the US right now, the 10 most common legal practices are Intellectual Property, Family, Tax, Personal Injury, Criminal, Civil, Bankruptcy, Immigration, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Corporate laws. Most of the 1.33 million lawyers in the U.S. as of 2020 concentrate around these 10 legal fields of expertise. This doesn’t come as a surprise that half of these practices are businesses-related. They don’t call it ‘Corporate America’ for nothing!
But what of the super-niche lawyers? We’ve shared our thoughts on the pros and cons of niching down as a differentiator. Our guest on The Rankings Podcast, Steven M. Levin was a total trailblazer in nursing home litigation way before it was even a thing. So, we were inspired to share a few more stories of some of the US’ market-leading niche dominators, and how they got to where they are today!
Niche: Environmental Law
According to Rolling Stone, if the earth had a lawyer it would be John Adams. John has been at the forefront of promoting environmental protection through legal activism. He has published three books in the field of environmental protection.
He worked as a Federal Prosecutor of the Southern District of New York for five years before joining a group of young lawyers from Yale to create the NRDC. The organization was the first national advocacy group for environmental protection through the legal system.
Under Adam’s leadership, NRDC passed the Clean Water Act which allows citizens to sue polluters directly. Their other top achievments include the banning of lead in gasoline. Plus, requiring coal plants to reduce their pollution-causing emissions, and protect a breeding ground of gray whales near Baja in California from industrial development. The list goes on!
John and his organization, NRDC, sues government agencies for inaction on environmental protection issues on the regular. He is fearless in taking huge and powerful corporations to court when the state or federal government is reluctant to act. He even earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 for his dedication and passion for environmental protection.
Niche: Medical Malpractice
James Bostwick is one of the most respected lawyers in this field in the United States. He has represented aggrieved parties in numerous cases of medical malpractice and personal injury. James is also a Certified Malpractice Specialist by the American Board of Professional Liability.
He has over 50 years of experience in complex medical malpractice and secured numerous rulings that have set the standards of this medical malpractice law. In 1979, he secured the largest claim ever over medical malpractice verdict in the United States history. His entrepreneurial spirit has since seen him breaking records, mostly his own. In 2018, he secured a settlement of $14 million over a neonatal brain injury just before trial. This was the largest during this time for a case that has never reached trial.
James is a member of the most exclusive trial organization in the world – Inner Circle of Advocates. He has been repeatedly named the ‘best lawyer’ in America since 1983. The California Bar Journal also named him as one of the best 4 trial lawyers; and has been featured in a number of publications such as Newsweek, Town and Country, Forbes as one of the top trial lawyers in the United States.
Niche: Elder Law, Estates and Wills
Elder law is a specialized field of legal practice intended to meet the needs of older and/or disabled clients. Cases around this field achieving clients and their family’s goals – high quality but less restrictive care for their loved ones.
Joel Mendler is one of the best-known lawyers in the United States specializing in Elder Law. He has been named best lawyers by different organizations since he started his legal profession in 1968. Medler is a Board Certified Tax Specialist and is an Estate Planning and Estate Administration Specialist by the Louisiana State Board of Legal Specialization.
He’s a proven authority on the implementation of estate plans – drafting of Wills, Trusts, and advance directives. He also takes care of administering family estates and provides directions on how to manage long-term care needs such as those related to government benefits.
Mendler is a member of some of the most reputable lawyer organizations in the U.S. such as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, the New Orleans and Birmingham Estate Planning Council, and the American Bar Association Sections on Taxation, Real Property, and Trusts and Estates. He has been named as one of the top lawyers of New Orleans since 2013 for his achievements in Elder Law and Trust Estates. He has also been named one of the top lawyers in the United States in the field of Elder Law, Trusts and Estates, Non-profit or Charities Law for more than 30 years.
Niche: Animal Law
Chris Green is the Executive Director of the Animal Law and Policy Program of the Harvard Law School. He was the Director of Legislative Affairs for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and former Chair of the American Bar Association’s TIPS Animal Law Committee. Chris has been instrumental in promoting animal rights in the United States. This empathetic attorney is best known for persuading the three most prominent airline companies in the U.S. to stop transporting endangered animals hunted for trophies; helped defeat Ag-Gag legislation in a number of states, and passed the ABA resolution recommending that all legislative bodies in America criminalize the possession of dangerous wild animals.
In all that does, he has always advocated for animal welfare by working with relevant government agencies and non-government organizations. In 2020, he passed another ABA resolution calling on the government to train all law enforcement on non-lethal animal encounters. Green created the University of Illinois’s first Environmental Science degree. He consults on animal legal issues for diverse outlets such as CNN, Science Magazine, Fortune, NBC News, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal among many others.