The legal industry is undergoing a technology-driven transformation. With the internet (and now smartphones) becoming ubiquitous, legal information and knowledge is more freely accessible to the general public than ever. In a matter of seconds, anyone find answers to their own basic legal questions with a quick Google search from anywhere in the world. And the trend is only just beginning.
So what does this mean for lawyers, particularly solo practitioners and small firms? It means you’ve got to re-invent yourself to survive. You need to find new ways to engage more clients. You need to increase the value of your legal services, which probably means reduced fees and alternative billing methods. And more than ever, you’ve got to become a specialist and focus on a niche.
Niche is the New Normal
In the good old days, legal help was only accessible if you hired a lawyer. So as a lawyer, it made sense to be the jack-of-all-trades, the general practitioner. You could cater to anyone’s needs, and because people didn’t have any alternative sources for legal advice, you would conceivably land more clients that way. But all of that has changed.
Clients today are much savvier, and they have a wealth of self-help remedies at their disposal. As a result, they have much higher expectations of your work and of your level of expertise. When you try to be everything to everybody, you’re not an expert at anything. In fact, these days you’re actually limiting yourself by not having a focus. So in order to thrive in the modern legal marketplace, you’ve got to become a specialist.
Here are a few great reasons why solo practitioners and small law firms need to have a more niche focus to succeed in the modern legal industry, and some growing legal niches for lawyers to consider.
Going Niche Reduces Your Competition
It’s a pretty simple concept: the more you focus on a niche, the less competition you’ll have for clients. Lawyers that practice in personal injury, family law, IP, criminal defense and many of the other more common areas are a dime-a-dozen these days. With such an overwhelming number of options, it becomes exceedingly difficult for clients to compare the options and ultimately hire the right lawyer for their needs and budget.
When you focus on a niche and specialize in it, you give yourself the chance to become the go-to-lawyer in your field. You become more knowledgable and experienced with the intricacies of your niche. You’ll be better at what you do, and you will have more satisfied clients, get more referrals, and grow your business as a result.
Better & More Focused Marketing Opportunities
When you operate in a niche, not only is there reduced competition, but it also becomes even easier for clients to find you. Your marketing will become both simpler and more effective as your target audience becomes narrower.
When you have a narrow focus, you can really build your firm a brand of its own. You will start to stand out and gain recognition as you produce content online, build email lists, and attend events and speaking engagements focused at your specific niche. It’s a lot easier to be the top Bitcoin lawyer in New York than it is to be the top bankruptcy lawyer.
As a niche focused law firm, you can become the “master of your own domain” and reap the benefits of more effective marketing and better brand recognition. This will improve your credibility and ultimately lead to more referrals and a thriving practice.
New Fields are Proliferating Rapidly
Niches really are becoming the new normal. Technology has lowered the barriers to entry for startup businesses, opened up a wealth of new business models, and even spawned entire new industries. Any time new types of businesses and industries arise, the law is sure to follow closely behind.
But technology and innovation are not the only things giving rise to new fields of law. Broader changes happening in government and society can lead to new opportunities for lawyers to explore as well.
Becoming a legal specialist makes more and more sense as the law becomes increasingly complex. Tons of novel legal issues are popping up constantly in today’s fast-paced, technology driven world. The law simply cannot keep up with the rate of innovation, and it’s only going to increase.
Growing Legal Niches for Lawyers to Consider
The good news is, with all of these new legal issues emerging, it becomes even easier for lawyers to find a niche and specialize in it. Here are a few hot areas that have become increasingly relevant over the past few years:
- Online privacy and security
- Sharing economy compliance issues (e.g. Uber, Airbnb, etc.)
- Medical/legalized marijuana
- Cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin)
All of these emerging industries, as well as others, create new opportunities for lawyers. It may still be early, but these industries will all continue to grow and become increasingly important parts of the overall economy. By becoming an expert in one of them early on, you can be ahead of the curve and establish yourself to grow your brand and ultimately land more clients.
*Photo Credit: Richard Matthews via Flickr (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License)