Building a Solo Law Practice: The Marketing Power of Niche Expertise
I was lucky enough to learn a bedrock principle of law firm marketing all the way back in law school: niche expertise is valuable. As I’ve pointed out before, there are a lot of good reasons for a solo to cultivate a specialty. It’s even better to be a specialist with a unique niche. If you take the effort to learn a corner of the law ignored by most attorneys, you can quickly position yourself as a go-to person for the people or companies it affects.
An assignment for a marketing class in law school first impressed this point on me. We had to choose a narrow legal issue to research and then an industry to market that niche knowledge to. I started by analyzing a tax case involving a special excise tax on tires. The case was interesting and it was not terribly difficult or time-consuming to become fairly knowledgeable on the surrounding issues. I then identified a number of trade associations and tire industry groups to market my newfound knowledge to. Then, I prepared a mock presentation, which I gave using a projector that I watched movies on at home. The presentation looked great and it took maybe 2-3 hours to put together.
That lesson stuck with me and I was able to apply it after graduation. I have employed the same methods several times and each time I have generated interest in my services.
For instance, at a law firm I was once assigned to write a quick commentary on the tax items in the 2009 federal stimulus bill. Remembering my marketing course, I keyed into a couple of special provisions from the bill that benefited gas stations. I found some trade groups and, as luck would have it, a large gas station conference was approaching.
After explaining myself to a trade group representative, he could hardly have been more eager and interested. In fact, even though I ultimately had to politely back out, I received several e-mails from afterwards, expressing his continued interest. I was amazed at how easy all of this had been. Since then, I have continued to use this method to tap into new pools of potential clients.
If you take the time to learn about a highly specialized legal issue, chances are that there is a group of people who could really use your knowledge but whose needs are not being directly catered to. By simply finding those people, identifying yourself and offering to give a short presentation, you might be surprised at the business boost and publicity it could yield.
Also check out Doug’s five-part series on starting a solo practice: Part One (the decision to go solo), Part Two (choosing a specialty), Part Three (sole proprietorship, corporation or LLC?), Part Four (gaining practical experience as a young lawyer), and Part Five (preparing to go solo mid-career). Author and IP solo Evan Aidman has also recently posted on building a solo practice.