YourABA: June 2013
YourABA June 2013 Masthead

Building a niche practice

In today’s competitive legal environment, lawyers must find a way to distinguish themselves from the competition in order to claim a bigger piece of the pie. One way to do this: Build a niche law practice.

Choosing a niche is about matching your interests and expertise with a segment of the market. Before you launch your niche practice, you will need to think strategically about whether the niche is the right fit for your personal qualifications and interests and whether the niche is economically viable in your geographic market.

Here is a four-step process to get you started from a recent issue of GPSolo.

  1. Identify your professional strengths and weaknesses. Choose a niche that matches your strengths. Also, think about choosing an area in which you have at least some experience. This is important not only to effectively serve your clients but also to be sure that you enjoy working in the niche before taking the leap.

  2. Identify any personal factors that help you speak to your niche. When it comes to choosing a niche, life experience can be as important as professional expertise. Some attorneys build niche practices around meeting the needs of people at the same life stage or with similar experience, hobbies or interests, for example. At a personal level, a niche practice based on shared interests or values can be intrinsically enjoyable.

  3. Identify your ideal clients. Past experience is a great way to identify your ideal clients. What clients have you enjoyed working with the most? Which have been the most profitable? Once you have identified your best clients, look for common characteristics. What challenges do they face? What needs do they have? Chances are that others with the same characteristics could benefit from your services.

  4. Conduct market research for all potential niche practices you have identified. Start by defining your geographic market. Where can you reasonably expect to find and serve your clients? Next, determine whether there is sufficient demand in that market. You might need to look at what others are doing. For example, you might search online for competitors offering similar services to your target market. If they can do it, you can do it, too. If you determine there is demand in your market, take a closer look at the competition. Ideally, you will find a moderate level of competition, not an oversupply or no sign of competition, which could mean there is low demand or that you are the first to discover that niche in your market.

GPSolo magazine is a publication of the Solo, Small Firm & General Practice Division.

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