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Solo lawyers and those in big firms have more competition than ever for their services and expertise. Allegiances to firms are fading as businesses and individuals are looking for the best value for their money. Not only are people looking for the best fees, but they want the highest level of expertise they can get. But how do you make yourself stand out in an over-saturated industry?

Differentiate yourself. The key is to define your niche. Some lawyers are resistant to this – they say that they focus on business transactions, only practice construction litigation, or want more DUI defense cases. You can certainly still be a legal expert in these practice areas, but you should go a step further to distinguish yourself from the competition. With the examples given above, find a niche such as green industries (for business transactions), sports and entertainment venues (construction litigation), or false DUI readings due to medications (DUI defense). The essence is to find what specific need you help clients deal with most often, or what is the most lucrative and long-term need, and zone in on that niche.

Then infuse all your word of mouth, online and offline marketing efforts with your niche expertise. This will go a long way to establishing your personal brand and help you stand out from the competition. You can then call on trade associations and industry groups that more than likely need your legal knowledge. As you increase awareness of your skill to the broader business community and public, it will position you as the authority on the topic.

This can yield greater publicity and business for you quicker than other forms of advertising.

From here, you'll need to update your profile and get social. Be sure to update your bio page on the firm's website to show off your niche – which is also critical as a keyword for search engine optimization. Do the same on your LinkedIn, Facebook, and any other social media pages you have. Be sure to use press releases, blogs, case studies and any articles you write to feature the niche practice. All of these efforts will help you stand out as a thought leader. So when the media, trade publication, or conference comes to town, you will be well poised to speak about the topic.

Conferences and industry gatherings that focus on your niche should be a big target for you. Call the lead contact for the events and send them information about how you could be a great fit for their attendees. Your blogs, a mock presentation, and newsworthy mentions of your expertise will pay off. Even small conferences can be great for relationship building and mining for business. Some niche lawyers will host special events at conferences or champion a niche and start an association for their specialized industry. It's all about creating your own reality and not waiting for the phone to ring.

Also, know that your blogs can get re-purposed as part of a presentation and a speech can be a way to get the press to mention you, for example. This way you get the most benefit out of your time on marketing and business development. As your social efforts to get more business start to solidify, cold calling an industry group gets less harder. You'll start to get name recognition and compile quite a list of clients and referrals that you can make aware of your niche on a routine basis. This will transform you from just another attorney in town into a rainmaker and industry leader that people actually want to call on.

About Author

Krystina Steffen is a former contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine.

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