We all have a limited amount of time, energy, and money. Top Rainmakers understand the most effective use of their limited time is to stake out a specific niche and dominate it!
Being perceived as a “specialist” in your local area for a specific practice area or niche is critical to the financial well being of your law firm. I am not talking about being an “expert” or “specialist” in the legal or technical sense or using that term in your marketing if you are not allowed to do so by your state bar. What I am talking about is in the marketing sense of having your prospects, clients and referral sources see you as the go-to attorney in your specific niche.
The most effective way to grow your firm is to “market like a specialist and practice like a generalist.” If you look at many law firms, they have it reversed: they market themselves as someone who can do it all (generalist), but if you look inside their practice, the majority of their revenue comes from one or two practice areas (specialist). To the outside world, you want your practice to be highly specialized, but once a person signs on as a new client, you immediately want to educate them on all the other ways your firm can help them with their legal issues (practice like a generalist).
One of the biggest law firm marketing mistakes attorneys make is to position themselves as generalists rather than specialists. Due to today’s hypercompetitive environment and the increased level of sophistication among consumers, lawyers can no longer afford to be seen as a general practitioner, the “jack of all trades,” because they will also be perceived as the master of none.
One of the problems with being a generalist is that it’s significantly more difficult to get more and better referrals. Here’s why: when another trusted advisor sends you a referral, it’s their reputation on the line. They don’t want to risk the relationship with their client if they are not sure you can solve the problem. More and more, being a generalist is perceived as having a good general knowledge, but unable to handle more complex (and potentially more lucrative) legal situations. If you say you can do anything from IP to PI, then trusted advisors aren’t going to send you any referrals because they figure there’s no way someone can be that good in every single area.
Here are several ways you can start to position yourself and your law firm as a “specialist” by emphasizing a specific niche:
- Focus on a specific industry. Pick two or three specific industries, like banking, intellectual property for software development, commercial real estate litigation, etc.
- Focus by size of revenue. You can focus your practice on high net worth individuals (at least $1 Million in net assets) or target businesses with $5 Million to $50 Million in revenues.
- Focus on the services you offer. Perhaps you want to focus your law firm’s services on complex litigation, celebrity or high profile divorces, white collar crimes, or Spanish speaking clients.
- Focus by combining all three above. The most powerful way to specialize your law practice is when you combine all of the above: niche yourself by industry, size of revenue, and by the specific services that you offer.
The perception of specialization takes time to develop and I am certainly not suggesting you handle any case outside of your area of competency.
Law firm marketing is a process of generating more and better clients. Positioning yourself as a leading expert or specialist in your niche can be a powerful tool for you in achieving this. You can do this with your website, a blog, through social media, and by educating your clients and referral sources.