"Employment of lawyers is projected to grow 8% from 2016–2026. Demand for legal work is expected to continue as individuals, businesses, and all levels of government require legal services in many areas."—(10/2018, Bureau of Labor Statistics)
According to the federal government, the prospects for lawyers are good. The projected 8% growth is about as fast as the average for all occupations. However, competition for jobs over the next ten years will be strong. Therefore, finding your niche practice area in your desired community can help you rise above the competition in 2019.
How do I find my niche?
To find your niche, look at your experience, personality, and trends within the legal profession and community.
Start with your experience. You know the type of law you’ve been practicing and have experience with. Narrow it down by thinking about your ideal client and the type of case you like. Then, consider what subjects you like to write about, speak on, or what you would like to establish yourself as a leader in.
Next, consider your personality. What are your passions, interests, or hobbies? Knowing these parts of yourself will help you discover the type of client that you enjoy representing, who wants your professional service, and who is comfortable working with you.
Finally, look at future trends in the law. It won’t help to establish a niche practice that will disappear due to artificial intelligence, commoditization (use of computer programs to create sophisticated documents), or changing laws.
Will my niche prosper in my community?
Knowing the composition of your community will help you answer that question.
A good place to start is with the information available from your local, state, and federal government. The U.S. Census provides data on household income, age distribution, education levels, and languages spoken, as well as information on area businesses and geography. These facts can help you decide what areas of law are needed. For example, if the population is aging, elder law may be the right choice while a rise in birth rates could foreshadow more family and juvenile law needs.
To find your community's business needs, check your local chamber of commerce directory for listings. Businesses wishing to use an assumed name file with the county clerk, who periodically posts those new business listings online. If your community has a number of new businesses and your niche is in the practice area of taxation, business plans, or other business transactions, you’re on the right track. On the other hand, if there are a number of writers or publishers and you’re adding intellectual property, this could bring in new business.
Whether you plan to add a new service or are just starting out, knowing the right niche market for you and spending time researching your community and assessing its resultant legal needs will enable you to make well-reasoned plans for 2019.
After years practicing law, Roberta Gubbins served as editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides writing services to lawyers ghostwriting content for websites, blogs, and articles. She is editor of The Mentor, the SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.
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