A niche creates more opportunity, not less.
When you have a niche practice, standing out from the competition is much easier, and makes you more attractive and desirable.
Corporate counsel I know say they’re not compelled to work with generalists.
What they and other clients want is highly specialized legal talent able to provide expertise in very specific areas of law. This type of talent is even more highly valued when they are a “go-to” for particular legal expertise within a specific industry.
That’s the description of a true niche legal practitioner. They are subject matter experts (SMEs) who are notable because their market and industry are tightly defined, and their experience and expertise within that market and industry is fathoms deep. As a result, these people are in high demand and expensive.
You can be one-of-one and have a niche practice. So, what’s stopping you?
Fear is the major hurdle. The thought of turning away any type of paying work is terrifying to many people. The irony is that if you take on work simply to pay bills, you will never have the time, capacity or energy to identify your key expertise, cultivate a niche, and become a true expert.
Cultivating your niche by turning away work that’s not in your wheelhouse is one strategy. Another is culling clients and winnowing out those you no longer want or perhaps never really desired in the first place. Frightening as these strategies sound, both are worth it.
Finding your niche results in more clients, more prospects, and more contacts. This is because:
- Your distinguishing and differentiating traits are crystal clear
- You are less commoditized and more specialized
- You are recognized as a highly-desired expert in your field
- You attract more referrals than any generalist
- Strategic alliances seek you out
- Marketing to your targeted clientele is easier and less costly
- You can charge higher fees because you are rare
Finding your niche practice means looking inside yourself and considering situations that you enjoy along with identifying the types of people with whom you have an affinity and who will recognize that working with you is essential to their success.
Once you’ve identified your niche, crafting a compelling message will act as a beacon to attract people you want to meet who have the types of work you desire.
I can tell you from personal and professional experience that this strategy works.
When I began consulting in 2001, my focus was niched in terms of industry and offering. The litmus test for this happened at, of all things, a wedding.
During dinner, one of the guests was asked what he did for a living. His answer was, “Marketing.” When asked who he worked with he said, “Anybody.” My response to the same question was, “Marketing and business development consulting for lawyers, law firms and other legal service providers.” This resulted in introductions to lawyers from three different law firms immediately after dessert.
When you can easily articulate your niche practice, opportunities open up and your reputation for your specialty both solidifies and amplifies.
I did it and have helped many lawyers take a one-of-one position in a niche practice — much to their initial terror, and resulting in stupendous professional and personal success.
This is what happens when a prospective client recognizes that you’re the very right person who can help them be successful. Oftentimes, right there — on the spot and just like that — they will choose to be your client.
Heather Suttie is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading authorities on legal market strategy and management of legal services firms.
For 25 years, she has advised leaders of premier law firms and legal service providers worldwide — Global to Solo | BigLaw to NewLaw — on innovative strategies pertaining to business, markets, management, and clients.
The result is accelerated performance achieved through a distinctive one of one legal market position and sustained competitive advantage leading to greater market share, revenue, and profits.
The effect is accomplishment of the prime objective — To Win.