I believe that the age of the micro-specialist has arrived. As clients increasingly turn to the internet (and social media) in search of professionals, the focus will be on finding the person or group with the exact right skillset to solve a specific problem. Geographic proximity will be an afterthought.
In response to this trend, attorneys, consultants and other business professionals will inevitably become even more specialized. For example:
- The Past: A Specialization in Trusts & Estates law
- The Future: A Specialization in Trusts & Estates for Multi-Generational Family Businesses
A client with a multi-generational family business would likely be willing to pay more if he knew that a particular attorney’s expertise aligned exactly with his needs. Furthermore, he’d be much more likely to deal with an attorney far away if he was convinced that he was getting specialized expertise that wasn’t available locally.
It’s much easier for attorneys to market their practice once they become highly specialized.
- Specialization allows you to focus your marketing effort on a relatively small group of prospects.
- Specialization makes it easier to develop a reputation as the “go-to” expert in your field. This is nearly impossible if your field is broad and loosely defined.
Great observations. Niches can be powerful marketing hooks, and social networks make niche marketing much easier.
My only comment would be that you don’t necessarily have to reorient your whole practice/business model in order to become known for a particular concentration or micro-specialty.
Jay – thanks for your thoughts. You are correct. You don’t necessarily have to change your services (i.e. you can continue serving your broader, legacy clients). You simply have to change your positioning. In order to build your reputation in a particular niche, it’s important that all of your marketing and thought leadership work is clearly focused on that niche.
As solo/small firms, we try to niche ourselves to a particular practice for the reasons above. But I think you make a great point about micro-specialists without having to completely block out broader clients. This was one issue I was concerned about: having potential clients not even contact me or ask for a referral if it’s an area that not my micro-specialty, but would like to do it. How does one go about addressing that?
Hi Robert: I agree with your observation –both I and Bill are prime examples and I suspect happenstance placed us ahead of the curve. The negative is that when one becomes isolated in a legal niche he is a tool for a large firm but personally /professionally unable to function as a General Counsel away fro such firm. There are many atty’s in New York City out of work having only a particular skill set–never in court etc. My answer is that one should chase Pro Bono work to keep in the game as a “Lawyer”
We still feel bad we did not make the wedding–your photos of the bride are great–yours not so good…..