Expand your practice into niche areas
In some nonlegal industries, the key to success is tapping into an under-appreciated niche market and filling the void. Discovering an untapped market can bring success, even if you are not exceptionally skilled in the niche.
The idea that “what you don’t know now, you can pick up along the way,” works for some industries. But does the same hold true for the legal market? As the economy continues to raise concerns, should law firms and solo practitioners expand into additional practice areas? Some believe this tactic will garner more clients and opportunities. Others fear the maneuver could backfire.
What Are Niche Practice Areas?
Niche practice areas are smaller, less-known areas of law. Part of the appeal of niche practice areas is that they are less saturated with competition. There may be fewer clients seeking an animal law attorney, but there are also fewer lawyers to compete against in this niche. In an ideal scenario, expanding your practice to include niche practice areas could open your law firm up to a significant increase in opportunities.
Niche practice areas focus on a specific legal topic and require a highly specialized knowledge base and skill set to serve your clients. General areas of law may include personal injury, criminal law, and constitutional law. Niche practice areas dig deeper into core legal areas. For example, some lawyers may choose to drill into personal injury law and focus exclusively on cases surrounding nursing home abuse or birth injuries. These are two examples of niche practice areas nested under personal injury law.
Other examples of niche practice areas include:
- Animal law
- Environmental law
- Tech law
- Rural law
- Legal malpractice
These are just a few of the more common niches that lawyers expand into. As you may imagine, niche legal areas can be incredibly focused and obscure. Legal niches can range from space law to tree law, Esports law, aviation accident law, and sneaker law.
Before expanding your practice into a new legal niche, it is important to carefully weigh your options. Sometimes what seems like an obvious choice of niche is not a sure thing.
The Pros and Cons of Niche Practice Areas
Expanding your practice into a niche practice area is a serious decision. Moving forward will mean tackling the difficulties of adding a niche as well as embracing the benefits. It is important to carefully consider the pros and cons of expanding your practice before making a final decision.
Pros of Expanding Into Niche Areas
Identifying the right niche for your law firm can bring a wealth of benefits. It can fuel your academic side, allowing you to delve deeply into an obscure area of law while simultaneously offering you a serious economic advantage. If your market research is on point, adding a niche legal area can also boost your law firm’s clients and income.
The benefits of adding a niche practice area can include the following:
- The ability to hyperfocus on one or two related niches rather than jumping frantically between different topics of law
- Easier digital marketing, as you should find less competition for your main keywords
- The ability to build incomparable knowledge of your precise niche
- The opportunity to become the preeminent local authority in your niche
- The chance to gain a competitive edge over non-specialized lawyers in your field
- The ability to position your brand as a thought leader in your legal niche
- Increased clients and income
The benefits of extending your law firm to include niche practice areas are certainly tempting. However, it is necessary to understand the potential challenges associated with the expansion before rendering a final decision.
Cons of Niche Expansion
Expanding your legal practice into niche areas is not all butterflies and roses. You should be aware of several potential drawbacks before embarking on this venture. These liabilities range from marketing costs to tunnel vision and burnout.
Increased Marketing Costs
Once you decide to transition your law firm to include a new niche practice area, you will need to update your firm’s marketing materials to reflect your offerings. This means updating materials such as your:
- Social media
- Email blasts
If the legal niche you are passionate about has already been filled, you will need to analyze whether there is enough room left in the market to warrant your entry. Taking the time to specialize in a saturated legal niche and spending money transitioning your marketing material may not be a profitable endeavor in certain situations. It is important to carefully analyze the situation before committing to a potentially unprofitable venture.
Tunnel Vision and Burnout
Niche specialization can limit your vision to within your area of focus. Retaining a broad understanding of the law is a strength that can help you connect the dots between several practice areas. This is a muscle you could lose if you have no reason to continue flexing it.
When you hyperfocus on a single topic, the risk of burnout may increase. Sit back and ask yourself if you would be happy pursuing nothing but legal malpractice law for the next 10 to 20 years. If the idea truly appeals to you, then a niche may be the right choice. However, if the thought sends chills up your spine, perhaps putting your sole focus on a niche is not the answer. Instead, consider retaining your current practice and adding your preferred niche on the side.
Choosing the Right Niche for Expansion
Niche legal areas can pay off big when you properly research and implement them. However, not every niche is right for each law firm or even each locality. Taking the time to carefully consider your options can help you make a choice that will enable you and your law firm to prosper over the long term. If a sole specialty is not right for you, perhaps remaining generalized while adding one or two specialties to your practice’s repertoire is more appropriate.
A good way to find a new niche is to look at the more unique cases you have worked on over the years. If your law firm primarily deals in motor vehicle accidents, you may have worked on a boating accident or an electric scooter accident. These could be wonderful niches to expand your practice into. By expanding your practice organically, you have the advantage of previous insight into that type of case.