You’ve got a passion. An area of law that excites you and motivates you to get up in the morning. But the only problem is, you don’t get to practice it nearly as much as you’d like. Either you’re too busy handling other cases or the clients you’d like to take on just don’t seem to come through your doors.
If this sounds like you, you might want to consider exploiting your niche. This is something Brian Chase, Partner at Bisnar Chase knows a thing or two about. In his interview on The Rankings Podcast, Brian told all about his passion for auto defect cases.
But how do you get into a position to work solely on the projects you love? Hopefully, we can give you some pointers in this guide to capitalizing on your niche.
Finding your passion
You probably already know what your passion is. But if you want to turn it into a professional niche, you need to be prepared to work at it day in, day out. So, before you start rebranding (more on that later) be certain you’re actually doing what you love.
Work out your motivations first. Do you like a niche area of practice because it makes you happy or inspires you? Does the thought of the challenges it brings motivate you? Do you constantly strive to be a better lawyer in that field and continually learn?
If you answered yes to all of those, congratulations! You’ve probably found your passion.
But don’t dive in just yet. Test the waters and do some research. Then do some more research. Find other lawyers that practice within that niche. Speak with them and find out about their experience in your field. Ask about the pros and (especially) the cons. You’ll get a much better idea whether it’s a challenge you’re willing to take in or not, and you’ll probably get a very useful contact (or mentor) out of the relationship. And if that doesn’t put you off the idea, then you’re probably ready to pursue your niche.
Create a client profile
Now that you’re certain you want to practice in your expertise, you need to define your customer.
Creating a client profile can be a lengthy process, but it’s a worthwhile one. Knowing who your potential clients are tells you:
- where to find them
- what they need and want
- how to market to them
- more about your niche.
As well as helping you to direct your marketing efforts, the client profile will give you more of an idea about the viability of your practice. After all, you could be the best divorce lawyer in the world – but if no one’s getting divorced, your practice won’t succeed.
Unfortunately, finding this information can be a challenge. If your existing firm has already dealt with some of the types of cases you’d like to specialize in, you can look to those clients to find the demographic data you’re looking for.
But if you don’t have access to such data, the challenge can be a bit trickier. Surveys are a good source of useful information. However, getting the surveys to the right people can be difficult. One solution to this would be to hire a market research company to do the investigating for you, though this can be quite costly.
So, if you haven’t got your own data, and you can’t get enough survey information, what can you do? Well, you can go back and talk to your new mentor/colleague that you met in step one!
Ask them to help you find out more about your potential clients. And if you don’t want to pick the brains of a potential competitor – pivot! Speak to lawyers in similar, but not the same, fields to get the insights you need. Or, reach out to lawyers further afield that won’t be competing for the same clients.
Branding and Marketing
With your niche settled and the picture of your clients firmly in your mind’s eye, you can now start to brand and market your practice.
First of all, you’re going to need to focus your brand. That means homing in on the specific area of law you want to work in and the values you hold.
It’s important to remember that branding doesn’t start on the drafting table. Before you can think about visual branding, you need to get to the heart of what your niche firm is. Ask yourself:
- What is your area of expertise?
- Who are your clients?
- What kind of experience do you want to offer your clients?
- What is the firm’s position in the market?
- How is the firm perceived by others and how do you want it to be perceived?
Thankfully, you’ll have already answered the first two questions so you can start to focus on the culture of your niche firm. You’ll have noticed that there’s no mention in that list of color schemes and logos, and that’s because the visual branding comes from your firm’s culture.
When you have these answers, start by instilling the concepts in your firm. Provide training to employees on how they should treat clients, clearly lay out procedures to provide a consistent service, and monitor these things to make sure that the standards you want to uphold don’t slip. The last part is vitally important because if standards drop, that can quickly, and unintentionally, become a part of your brand.
Training your staff on the values and branding of your firm will help you to build a consistent image and reputation. If they know what your firm’s brand is, they will be able to help each other and new employees to uphold it in the future.
And for some more professional insights on branding, check out our interview with Michael Mogill.
With your core values now set in stone, it’s time to tell the world. And there hasn’t been a better time in history to market yourself. We have near-professional quality video equipment in our phones, cheaper access to industry-standard audio and visual tools, and free social platforms to broadcast our messages.
Marketing is a whole blog (or six) in itself, and there are numerous ways in which you can do it. You can:
- Guest blog and establish yourself as an expert.
- Get a custom phone number to tie your marketing vehicles together.
- Use PPC ads to get a good ROI.
- Use Instagram to get clients that aren’t commonly targeted by lawyers.
- Use social media to target an enormous pool of potential clients.
- Use a combination of modern and traditional marketing methods to get your message out everywhere.
Whichever methods you choose, it’s important that you communicate your values and you do so consistently. This lets clients know what you’re about, which can lead to increased loyalty and improved conversion rates.
The final piece of the puzzle is setting yourself up for referrals.
If a client has a niche case on their hands and their local lawyer isn’t equipped to take it on, nobody wins. The client doesn’t get the result they wanted, the other lawyer doesn’t get their fee, and you don’t get the niche case you love doing.
Start to build your professional network. Reach out to other lawyers that practice in the same general field. Speak to the new mentor you met in step one. Tell them you can handle the specialist cases they’re either too busy or ill-equipped to handle. Of course, nothing in life is free, so it’s good manners to arrange a referral fee or some sort of reciprocal arrangement.
Another source of referrals is previous clients. If a client has a good experience with you (which they inevitably will) they’ll be more likely to refer you to friends. So make it easy for them to do so! Have plenty of business cards around the office, have contact information clearly visible in emails, and make sure your social channels are easily accessible in correspondence. You can even encourage people to refer you in your social media posts. Something as simple as “if you know anyone who might’ve experienced… Be sure to share this post” will go a long way in keeping you top-of-mind.
That’s our basic guide to building your niche firm. To hear more about running a niche practice, have a listen to Brian Chase’s interview on The Rankings Podcast, or see how he does it over at Bisnar Chase .