I have personally trained over 18,000 lawyers on how to manage and market their firms more efficiently and effectively. I have probably helped more attorneys break the seven-figure barrier in revenues than anyone else. I’m not telling you this to brag, but to share with you the keys to breaking the seven-figure barrier based on my experiences.
Key #2: Focus on a niche.
When you’re in the startup phase (from $0 to about $250,000), you face a never-ending challenge of taking whatever business comes in through the door in order to pay the bills or concentrating on one area to build a niche practice. It becomes a question of short-term focus versus longterm survival – and I realize that most solos need to balance both in order to make it.
However, the faster you can start focusing on one to two practice area niches, the faster you will go from having a job ($0 to $500,000) to creating a practice ($500,000 to $1M). When people see you as a jack of all trades (the generalist approach), they also perceive you as the master of none. People will pay more for a specialist because they see you as an expert. People will refer more to a specialist because they aren’t afraid of you stealing their clients or competing with them. Contrary to popular belief, this approach does not limit you. It helps to focus your marketing and business development efforts.
There are many ways to select a niche, but it must be small enough to be realistic, yet big enough to have enough potential clients in it. For example, being No. 1 divorce attorney in all of the Phoenix metro area is not realistic. There are far too many entrenched and successful competitors to ever achieve this. However, you could be the No. 1 divorce attorney for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the East Valley. Here are a few other ways to select a niche:
- ServiceNiche: DUI attorney for licensed health care professionals; estate planning and asset protection for doctors and dentists; tax attorney for the self-employed; business transactional lawyer for real estate investors; business immigration law for the hi-tech industry; business law for health care providers; and IP and trademark lawyer for small business owners.
- Industry Niche: Technology, agriculture, doctors, transportation, restaurant owners, manufacturing, construction, energy, or real estate development.
- Geographic Niche: Phoenix, Gilbert, Tempe, Chandler, Scottsdale, or the East Valley.
- Specialty Market Niche: Privately held companies, Fortune 500, physicians, white collar executives, blue collar construction workers, franchise owners, bicycle accidents, fitness centers, Spanish-speaking clients, developers, or commercial lenders.
Review your top 10 client list (either by amount of revenue/fees generated or in terms of how much you enjoy working with them). Then, look for any similarities. It may not be apparent at first, but keep asking questions and you will find it. Building a niche around a solid client base is one of the fastest ways to differentiate yourself.
Another way to help determine your niche is to track the inquiries from prospective clients to determine what’s drawing them to you and your law firm. See if they don’t begin to naturally fall into one or more groups. Becoming aware of these commonalities is a way to let your niche find you, helping you develop your law firm marketing. Once you niche your practice, you will find that referrals come more readily to you, since it will become clear in referral source’s mind just exactly what it is you do.