“To succeed in the new world, you have to sell yourself. You go to a brand-name college, not to imbibe the wisdom of its professors, but to make impressions and connections. You pick a niche that can bring attention to yourself and then develop your personal public relations efforts to let the world know who you are.” – Alan Wolfe, New York Times Book Review, 7 Jan. 2001
Historically, Lawyers have been taught to sell their ability to learn any industry or legal matter, and to de-emphasize the importance of industry experience. Most corporate lawyers and litigators discount the power of industry experience in their business development efforts. In-house counsel, as well as private practitioners, were often generalists with a working knowledge of employment, litigation, and transactional matters – at a minimum. The prevailing thought was to handle every type of legal matter that came in the door to secure the client’s loyalty or to prove one’s value to the company.
Today, however, that theory is outdated. Attorneys with specific expertise are more highly valued, more visible, and usually more profitable. These days, developing your “niche” is critically important to your career advancement and success, especially when it’s authentically based on your passions. As your thoughts turn to the New Year and what career goals and marketing plan you want to achieve, our advice is to include developing a niche law practice as a top priority.
A niche can be defined in numerous ways. It can be specific areas of expertise (software, tax, 40 Act), industries (healthcare, energy), geographical location (city, state, region), population segment (working mothers, fluent Spanish speakers) or the like.
Think about what you know, who you are and what you really care about in formulating what you have to offer. Thoughtfully choose a few specific areas that are authentic to you and what you are passionate about.
Knowing everything about a niche subject is not required to start defining and working toward your niche, but you will want to do that too once identified.
Once your niche is identified, you can use it to market yourself and stand out as an expert on your selected area(s).
- Make sure your website and social media channels reflect your areas of expertise and your passions. Use your own unique voice and the terms of art common in your niche.
- Write and speak where your target clients hang out – blogs, newsletters, e-books, local events, and webinars are inexpensive but highly effective ways to show your expertise.