With 2008 less than 30 days away, it isn’t too early (in fact, it’s later than you think) to focus on your law practice, and the business development strategies you want to bring into play in the coming year.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I in the right practice area for me?
  • Am I in a “hot” or “cold” area of the law?
  • What should I do to ensure I am right on both fronts – at least with my legal marketing focus for 2008?

Here’s something that may help you. My friend Bob Denney of Robert Denney Associates has issued his 19th Annual Report on “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession”  this month. It makes sense to take a look and do some serious reflection on your practice, as well as where you want to take it.

Items from various categories that popped out from Bob’s report:

Hot Practices:

  • Intellectual Property – USPTO has adopted new rules (enough said on that point, as in new regs, new work for lawyers)
  • Immigration – firms separating it from Labor & Employment
  • Corporate Investigations – “fastest growing area of White Collar Crime”
  • Animal Law – cruelty to animals is a crime in 43 states

Getting Hot:

  • Foreclosures
  • Bankruptcy
  • Insurance coverage – “due to global warming”

Cold Practices:

  • Medical Malpractice
  • Workers’ Compensation

Marketing and Business Development:

  • Marketing budgets – increasing as a “percentage of firm revenues at both large and mid-size firms.” Running as high as 10% in UK; reiterating that large accounting firms in both countries “have been spending that much for years”
  • Marketing department staffs – “increasing in size along with the budgets”

Other Trends & Issues:

  • Rate Increases – “Major corporations are getting increasingly fed up with firms’ rate increases… This, along with poor service, is why many are replacing nearly two-thirds of their primary law firms” (not sure about the 2/3 figure, but I do know that The BTI Consulting Group survey of last spring, which I reported on here, reported that 54% of large corporations had shed a primary firm within the previous 18 months.)
  • Mid-size firms – “Well-managed mid-size firms – and even some small ones ‘ are not only surviving, but are thriving by attracting clients faced with the high rates – and often poor services – of the large firms”
  • Calls for killing the billable hour – (oh hum, how long have we been talking about this? Enter “billable hour” or “alternative fees” into the Search box to the right for more of my posts on the subject.)

There’s a lot of marketing and business development morsels in this report for individual lawyers in any size firm. Take a look at Bob’s four-page report; it should have some food for thought applicable to your firm, making it worth the read.