Lawyers with a real niche practice are pretty much aware that it is easier to have clients, prospects and referrals understand what they do. Generalists have a harder time standing out from the crowd, when it comes to being recognized as different from every other lawyer in their area. I’ve written before about how a solo or small firm can have a general practice in a small market, but in larger marketplaces (i.e. big metropolitan areas) it is a lot more difficult to stand out.

In either case, a narrow niche is still better, if there is enough work out there for your niche in the first place. Trey Ryder has an article in his recent newsletter that advocates for a narrow niche as well. We both agree that “the more narrow your niche – and the more effective your marketing program – the more your practice will soar.”

He cites the case of a lawyer who represented a city against the manufacturer of faulty plastic pipes used in a water utility system. After he was successful, “another city came to him. Then another and another.” Presumably, he focused on letting other cities know about his practice, and now “attracts clients from all over the country.”

So, even those in smaller markets can have a broader regional, even national, practice with a recognized and specialized niche.

Niche practices can be marketed more effectively and cheaper than a general practice in my opinion. Law firms that promote their niche practices will easily standout from the crowd; and can charge more for the practice, if they do.

Two of my posts on niche marketing that come to mind from a few years back include "Narrow Your Niche for More Effective Marketing" and "Do You Have a Niche and What Are You Doing about It?" Take a look, because there is a hot new niche that just came on the market. And there ain’t going to be a recall any time soon.

Thanks to the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC (No. 08-205), January 21, 2010. I’m sure many firms will be adding a niche practice representing plaintiffs or defending corporations/unions over their respective political contributions.Some shareholders and/or union members may be vehemently oppose to the particular political choices made by the corporation or union.  Could get to be messy out there, and those with a early lead in marketing such a niche might just win big.It could be a sub-niche to existing Shareholders’ Rights Practices, or stand-alones called something like “Shareholders’ Political Rights Practice” and “Union Workers’ Political Rights Practice.”

The point is that you should jump right in if you think there is anything to this, and you too believe in the value of niche practices. Get out there ahead of the competition, and don’t forget to grab that domain name for your area while you’re at it.

            “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.”  Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Danish philosopher and writer

There is nothing new about lawyers representing small businesses on a retainer basis. It is a good deal for business owners and for lawyers. Businesses get a certain amount of their lawyer’s time involving specified services, and the attorney receives a steady income that s/he can count on.

The problem comes in convincing clients that it is a favorable deal for them, and worth their doing. That “is the challenge” according to solo David Feldman in Connecticut, who has 10 retainer clients that pay him $1500 per month for legal advice. What caught my eye is how he markets his practice. First, he calls it “preventive law;” and then sells it by focusing his pitch on telling horror stories about business that could have prevented costly legal troubles, if only they had run their business decisions by a lawyer in advance. And as part of the deal, he gives his retainer clients a 25% discount on his hourly rate, should litigation raise its ugly head.

Read more about Feldman’s preventive law practice and how he helps small businesses which appears in today’s Small Firm Business.

Better that clients run their business looking forward, rather than look back at what they could have prevented had they sought legal help up front. Your challenge is to convince them of that.