I coach a lot of attorneys, and one of the things I always try to do is get them to define a practice area, vertical or other domain, and as much as possible, own it. For one client, that means VR law — the emerging law related to virtual reality and augmented reality technology. For another, it’s tech related to the auto industry. For another one, it responsible supplier disbarment proceedings in the Department of Defense. It gets pretty specific, which is, of course, the idea. Above the Law ran a blog post today that pretty much echoed this strategy.
Interestingly, though, this post wasn’t about marketing the firm externally. Rather, the author, Bruce Stachenfeld, wrote a piece entitled Reinventing the Law Business: How Do I Make Partner in a Biglaw Firm? Tell Me The Truth, For Heaven’s Sake One of his key recommendations is as follows:
- Survey the industry you are in (hopefully the one in which you are working under the preceding paragraph “Second”).
- Pick a niche within that industry that is a much smaller subset.
- Read everything you can and learn everything you can about that niche.
- Make it your business to know everything possible about that niche.
- Make it your business to meet everyone possible in that niche.
- Make it clear to your colleagues – and to everyone who will listen – that you are making this niche (in this high-value area) the fulcrum of your practice.
Exactly. Strategy is always about deciding where to focus your resources, whether they’re money, time or attention. The same applies to building a client base. Deciding to be several things at the same time is a route to nowhere. You have to position and define your practice, and yourself, and that means picking a niche, and making it yours. You can always expand out into new areas from there, but that should always be where you start — somewhere, as opposed to everywhere.