An important part of marketing is picking the right market. You donâ€™t want to sell ice to Eskimos. You donâ€™t want to sell heating units to people living on the equator. You donâ€™t want to sell water to people living in the rain forest. You should sell something people want and/or need.
One of the great advantages you bring to the market is that you have a credential – a law license – that is required if someone is to sell most of the services you might offer. Most people canâ€™t sell legal services and you can. Thatâ€™s a critical advantage over everyone else in the marketplace. Itâ€™s important for you to fully leverage every advantage youâ€™ve earned.
Do two things – (1) sell a service that requires a law license, and (2) sell a service that is perceived as requiring a lawyer. Donâ€™t build a practice around helping with a legal problem that most clients believe doesnâ€™t require an attorney.
I keep running into attorneys trying to build a practice in a market where they arenâ€™t fully leveraging their licenses. For example, child support enforcement is an area where most of the work is done by non-lawyers. Government caseworkers and IV-D agents handle most of these cases. The opposing party is usually pro se. The involvement of non-lawyers and self-represented parties drives down the fees. Donâ€™t go there.
Stay away from areas of the law that are largely handled without attorneys or with the help of non-lawyers. Every state is a bit different. Avoid things like unemployment benefits appeals, social security disability cases and, even, mediation. Iâ€™m not saying itâ€™s impossible to make a living handling these cases, I know some very successful lawyers handling social security cases and doing mediation. I am, however, suggesting that these are probably the toughest markets for growing a sustainable practice for someone new to a practice. More and more non-lawyers will step in to these roles and the anti-lawyer bias will provide momentum for these people. Lack of perceived need, low fees, lots of competition and a built-in bias – itâ€™s a lot like selling ice to Eskimos.
We can go round and round about whether these clients would be better off with a lawyer over going pro se or hiring a non-lawyer. Iâ€™m not going to disagree with you about the need for lawyers. But, realistically, you donâ€™t want to count on one of these markets as your source of income. If youâ€™re new to practice you need to find a practice area that really requires a law license and put yours to work on behalf of your clients.