Honing Your Niche in Times of Economic Uncertainty

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By: The NBI Team

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Honing Your Niche in Times of Economic Uncertainty

Career and business development strategies are critical elements for any successful law practice. Although a period of economic instability can reduce business and revenue flow, attorneys can use a period of slowdown to reassess their business plans, evaluate their marketing strategies, and sharpen their skills. In fact, there's no better time for attorneys to hone their niches than in times of economic uncertainty.

Why Go Niche?

The economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 has had widespread effects on the legal field. Many major law firms have instituted pay cuts, layoffs, and other financial protection measures. However, attorneys can recession-proof their practices by ensuring that their services are distinct and marketable despite the economy. For established solos, large law firms, recent law school graduates, and attorneys across the board, opportunities abound to carve out niche practices that can weather any financial climate.

A niche can be a narrow subset of a traditional area of law or a focused, highly specialized field unto itself. While developing a niche can involve additional work and study, demand for niche attorneys is high. Since many clients are willing to pay a premium for expertise, niche practices can also be lucrative.

In addition to having the career satisfaction of a specific industry focus, niche practitioners can create incredible marketing advantages by differentiating themselves. Importantly, they can establish themselves as leaders in their specific fields. Standing out as the "go-to" attorney for a particular area of the law can mean a steady stream of loyal clients and referrals, speaking engagements, and many career advancement opportunities.

Assessing Niche Demand in an Economic Downturn

Depending on the area of law, a niche practice may thrive in a declining economy, even in transactional practice areas. According to a recent analysis comparing the impact of previous economic downturns on law firms, the implications of COVID-19 don't necessarily equate to a decreased demand in transactional practice areas. Instead, the demand may shift at the industry level.

Early data indicates that product liability filings grew by 300% during the pandemic, in addition to increases in federal insurance, patent, and securities filings. While court closures add a layer of difficulty to the analysis, many believe that litigation work is building up and that labor and employment attorneys are currently in high demand. Attorneys should carefully assess the outlook of specific sectors and the impact of COVID-19 on a particular practice area to determine where there is the most exposure and need for the services they offer.

Establishing a Niche

Attorneys thinking about niche practice must consider their particular interests, industry expertise, and client demand for the services they can offer. They should also find networking opportunities and think about ways to distinguish themselves and their niche in their local legal community and the wider market.

In recent years, unique niche practices have gained considerable traction. By applying their personal interests or deep industry experience to their legal careers, attorneys have been able to make a name for themselves in fields such as video game law, equine law, data privacy law, aviation law, and microbrewery law. Attorneys who practice in a field they are passionate about can reduce the risk of burnout, stay engaged, and continue to enjoy practicing law.

Developing Expertise

One of the most critical components of niche practice is the high levels of expertise that an attorney can offer their clients. Because of this, niche attorneys must keep up with emerging trends in their field, both legal and otherwise.

In times when business is slow, attorneys should seek out opportunities to develop their expertise and cultivate relationships with others involved in the field. Talking with other attorneys about the benefits and difficulties of niche practice, or attending courses that cover various niche practice areas, can provide perspective for expectations.

Marketing a Niche

Marketing is essential in any practice area to generate business, and attorneys focusing on a specific niche have many advantages. For one thing, niche marketing can be streamlined. Attorneys can fine-tune their focus and connect with a highly targeted audience. With fewer attorneys to compete for business in a narrowly constructed market, online visibility can increase substantially. Both SEO and pay-per-click marketing strategies become easier.

In addition to developing a quality web presence, blogging, publishing e-books, and posting on social media can all allow niche practitioners to engage in a dialogue with prospective clients and establish themselves as thought leaders.

While internet marketing has become standard in the legal profession, attorneys also need to be aware of any ethical implications of online legal marketing, as discussed in the NBI course Risky Business: Online Legal Marketing Ethics.

Learn More About Honing a Niche

Attorneys prepared to develop their niche practices could experience tremendous rewards. NBI offers a full range of CLE courses covering a broad scope of practice areas, evolving legal issues, and professional ethics to help attorneys learn more about honing their niches. Be sure to check out the NBI course catalog to find a course that fits your needs.

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This blog post is for general informative purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a solicitation to provide legal services. You should consult with an attorney before you rely on this information. While we attempted to ensure accuracy, completeness and timeliness, we assume no responsibility for this post’s accuracy, completeness or timeliness.

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