Turn Trends to Your Advantage
Creating a successful, lucrative law practice requires keeping up with trends, and knowing which ones create opportunity. There are over 60 trends listed in our current report on What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession, including practice specialties that are heating up—or growing cold—and trends in how firms are managing and marketing themselves. Here’s my advice on which trends solo practitioners and lawyers in smaller firms should pay attention to—and how to work them to your advantage.
- Hot Practice Areas. Don’t try to be all things to all people! Instead, develop an expertise in one or two areas that are most suitable for you and are hot or getting hot: estate planning, elder law, immigration, simple commercial or tort litigation, small businesses and certain areas of school law.
- Growing Industries. Focus on the business and legal issues in a particular industry that is growing (or will be) so that you become recognized as an expert in that industry. Depending on where you live and practice, here are a few current examples: Retail, restaurants, auto dealerships and distributors, group medical practice, residential construction and condominiums.
- Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs). Your clients or prospects may ask what your hourly rate is, but what they really want to know is how much a service or matter will cost them. So capitalize on the AFA trend and use fixed fees wherever possible or, if you must use an hourly rate, cap the total fee. This, of course, means you must know your costs and operate efficiently.
- De-Leveraging. The trend in many firms today is to “reduce leverage,” i.e., the number of associates. Do the opposite and leverage yourself. Hire a paralegal or top-quality legal assistant and utilize that person to the maximum. You will be more efficient, provide better service, be able to serve more clients and grow your practice.
Bob Denney is President of Robert Denney Associates, Inc., providing strategic management and marketing counsel to law firms throughout the United States and parts of Canada. His firm publishes the highly regarded reports on What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession.