How do lawyers find their niche, why is that important, and how do they grow the practice?
As one of Schwartz Law’s founding partners, Evan Schwartz is known as a highly skilled litigator and strategist. He is the leader of the firm’s Insurance Litigation, Claims & Consulting Group and Business & Complex Litigation Group. Evan has a national reputation for his work in the field of Disability Income Insurance, having won countless cases and having been recognized as an authority in various legal journals. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Insurance Law at Touro Jacob D. The Fuchsberg Law Center. Website: Schwartz Law | Twitter: @schwartzlawpc, @Insurancelawman
Evan started out at a big defense firm which represented large insurance companies. He left the firm to become a solo practitioner, and a few years later, joined together with another solo practitioner who was a former colleague, to form a firm with a primary focus on insurance recovery for policyholders.
Identifying an underserved area of law
Evan identified a law practice niche that was underserved, then went deeper into a sub niche – long term disability claims and litigation, and established a national practice.
The firm was formed at a time that particular industry had undergone a significant change and shrunk due to an abundance of claims being filed by professionals like chiropractors and orthopedic surgeons and dentists. In 1996 when the firm opened their doors insurance companies were denying a lot of those claims. His marketing efforts started with a little yellow pages ad for insurance recovery and calls from professionals came pouring in.
The sub-niche took off from there. Other types of insurance recovery claims came in through traditional advertising and it became the branding of the firm.
The marketing may have changed over the last 20 years but the niche practice remains the same. The niche practice has served him well for 20 years.
How do you get known for your niche or even sub-niche?
Internet searches have resulted in the acquisition of many clients.
In many situations, prospects don’t want to ask their circle for lawyer recommendations and expose their issues. Instead, they turn to the internet to find a lawyer for a private, privileged consultation.
Digital marketing such as Pay Per Click works but you need to use all the tools such as social media to increase your profile and recognizability among the people you want to reach.
Managing marketing the firm and practicing law
Start with legal marketing 101: It’s not optional for you to not spend a significant amount of time on a regular, repeated basis towards growing your book of business and growing your practice. If you’re not doing that, you won’t grow. It needs to be as big a commitment as representing your clients on cases or to handling whatever other facets of your business.
Evan has positioned himself to where he can spend up to 65 percent of his working day on things related to marketing origination, and growth and management of the practice. It makes him more valuable to the firm than he was when mired in the day to day activities related to cases.
Don’t fear picking a niche
It’s very difficult to be profitable and successful as a generalist. There are many rich veins of law that having an area of expertise or specialization – when you focus in on a niche, a core area of practice, or even two core areas of practice, you’re able to hone and focus on what you’re doing, in terms of marketing, as well as the efficiencies of managing the business.
For people who are not as socially comfortable with networking in the traditional relationship-building efforts, becoming the expert in a certain field helps by speaking and writing about it. It’s also easier for someone to find you if you practice in a specific area. Clients are looking for people who handle issues similar to theirs on a regular basis.
How to get started in your niche?
Besides making the time and effort commitment, identify successful rainmakers, talk to them, learn from them. Then decide which of those techniques work for you. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Other lawyers like to tell you what they know. Be a willing listener.
There is still no substitute for networking and relationship building. Maintaining good relationships with people who can connect you to clients is important.
Also, figure out a strategy to ensure your clients are happy because some of the great promoters you’ll have are former clients. Conversely, some of the biggest damage can be made by having clients out there who aren’t happy with your services.