I always liked immigration attorney, Greg Siskind’s mantra that niches lead to riches.

Rather than immigration law, Greg blogged, spoke and wrote on niches such as immigration for the healthcare industry or immigration law for professional athletes and teams.

I too advocate blogging on a niche. Blogging on subjects like IP litigation by culling cases from your district and circuit court of appeals, employment law for your state, or a particular product or procedure when it came to a plaintiff’s trial lawyer.

One 400’s Allen Rodriguez raised a good point in a piece this week about niches and lawyers.

That being for lawyers to focus on a niche “community” of people, rather than just a niche area of law when developing their practice.

I go to a lot of legal conferences and inevitably when speaking with attorneys the question comes up “what’s the focus of your practice?” The response is typically something along the lines of “my niche is estate planning” or “I do family law.” For decades a niche was really just a practice focus instead of say a smaller town general practitioner. Well, for decades that was perfectly fine.

Not anymore, per Rodriguez.

Competition is rampant, not only from other lawyers, but from alternative legal services providers, ala LegalZoom. General niche areas of law will not cut it.

More importantly is that lawyers cannot expect the consumer of legal services to shop for a lawyer by a niche area of the law.

…[T]he modern small business owner gets pulled in many directions and manages more than they may have had to in the past. Because of this limited time when it comes to dealing with legal issues, they don’t want to have to continually shop for the right person to hire for a given problem. Instead, they want a single solution producer, for the various legal matters they may have to deal with.

Imagine the small business owner that has to deal with a landlord tenant matter one day, a trademark issue the next and contractor issue the following week. For most attorneys that focus on one or two areas, they may have to refer this person out, or risk losing the client to a full service firm. Instead, what law firms should be considering is who specifically is the audience that they wish to serve and creating a niche around them specifically.

The key, per Rodriguez, is to develop a niche serving a group of like minded individuals (e.g., creators, equestrian owners, realtors, software developers, cannabis distributors, etc.).

The modern law firm niche is not a practice area, but a decision to serve a particular community of people. The modern lawyer is likely to be a part of that community and serve the role as trusted advisor.

Rodriguez’ point is also a good one when it comes to blogging.

I think of Dallas Attorney, Allison Rowe, who achieved rockstar status when, as a young lawyer, she jumped out of corporate litigation into something she loved, equine law. A love she had and a people she know from growing up around horses.

Publishing the Equine Law Blog (no longer being updated, yet remains a reputation enhancer) got her speaking to the National Breeders Association at Churchill Downs — inside of a year of launching her blog.

I think of Attorney David Donoghue’s blog on Retail Patent Litigation. As a follow on to his Chicago IP Litigation Blog detailing IP cases from the district court and circuit court of appeals, Donoghue establishes himself as a trusted advisor to the retail industry (a huge one) on IP issues (still a huge community within retail).

Geography is also in play as far as a “community” for lawyers in smaller communities. A lawyer blogging on a niche area of the law or even law in general can establish an awful lot of trust in a community of fifty to one-hundred thousand. Add Facebook and you have more of a winner.

Blogging to a “community” enables you to blog about community events and conferences, to reference in your blog the influencers of the community and what they are writing about and being quoted on, to report news of interest to the community and to feature/interview community leaders.

Within a year, two at the most, you’ll be invited to speak at events, widely quoted and seen as a trusted authority and advisor.

Blogging and networking through the net enables to widen the scope of your “community” as so darn few lawyers are willing to get out where people are – online – and engage in a down to earth fashion. Getting out with people online by blogging and using social media sets you apart and enables you to achieve trusted advisor status.

Communities are fun socially as well. You get to know people as people, as opposed to target clients for whom you feel pressure to get their work.

Out for for drinks and dinner. Talking about family. Sharing recreational interests. It’s the stuff life is made of – and the stuff business is made of via relationships.

Good food for thought here. Look around LexBlog for the community focus of blogging lawyers. Success leaves clues.