Niche Practice Could Help Recent Law Grads Win a “Losing Game”

Is Law School a Losing Game? At this point, almost everyone has read the now infamous New York Times article by David Segal which focuses on the grim job prospects that await recent law school graduates. Now that one of the most respected newspapers in the country has given credence to the impending burst of the law school bubble, recent law school graduates are left wondering what to do.

In an industry that seems to be bleeding jobs, how can recent law school graduates remain positive about their futures? In a time when law school graduates are trying to sell their degrees on eBay, how can recent law school graduates rise above the ever-faltering legal job market? Is there a way to win this so-called “losing game?” The answer to this question is a resounding “yes,” and it may inspire hope for some recent law school graduates.

How can I win?

It may sound scary at first, but as a recent law school graduate who is unable to find a job, the best employment opportunity may be the one that you create yourself. In this economy, the best way to do so may be to start a niche practice. Why not create a firm that focuses on an area of the law that you love? Why not be unique and find a way to stand out amongst your colleagues?

New niche practices are created every day, and new areas of the law are just begging to be practiced. By starting a niche practice, recent law school graduates can ensure that they will have meaningful—in terms of both passion and productivity—legal employment.

How can I start a niche practice?

Rachel Rodgers, a 2009 law school graduate, recently wrote about her decision to create a niche practice as a guest blogger at Solo Practice University. Rachel got “niche slapped,” and now represents Generation Y entrepreneurs. She also runs Gen Y J.D., a blog dedicated to assisting recent law school graduates create the jobs of their dreams.

When I asked Rachel how recent law school graduates could carve a niche for themselves, she described for me the way that she was able to meet with success.

The way I did it was by blogging about the area of law I was focused on and using social media to meet potential strategic partners who could help me further establish myself in my niche. The formula is to start blogging about your niche, connect with people in your niche through social media, and then find strategic partners and make them an offer for good content and discounts for their members.

How can I get started?

So, even if you didn’t start building your niche reputation during law school, you can still create a successful firm by following in Rachel’s footsteps. Here are some additional articles that you may want to peruse before you start your own journey into niche practice:

The Big Question: ‘Should You Create a Niche Practice?’

Should You Create a Niche Practice? (Part II)
Be That Lawyer: Niche Practice for Lawyers
Discover, and Market, Your Niche Law Practice

Starting a niche practice may be the strategy that could allow recent law school graduates to emerge unscathed from the current dearth of legal jobs. It’s certainly worth a shot considering the state of the economy—besides, you’ll never know what you’re truly capable of achieving unless you try!

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  • Jay Zaretsky MD FAANOS

    Great article! Being able to compete in this socio-economic environment can be quite a challenging dilemma.
    Therfore it may be necessary to “Reinvent” yourself to meet the needs in the current job market.
    Your recognition of the growing changes and frustration of new professionals is intuitive
    And your advice on the topic challenges ones spirit.
    Once professionals come to terms with their own conflict resolution it will lead to a path of decreased dissonance and perhaps enable one to think “Outside” the box to engender gainful employment. (Well Done)

  • I agree that new law grads do need to develop a niche, but how? I’ve got a younger brother who just graduated from law school and is faced with this dilemma. He has it a bit easier as he just passed the patent bar, so his niche is fairly obvious. But what about others? How do you create credibility as a new grad? I think this presents a challenge. With a few years of practice to leverage, it may be easier to market yourself in a niche. But for a new grad, this seems much more daunting.

    I think the concept is sound, but practical implementation would be much more difficult (in the context of a new law school grad).

    • Staci Zaretsky

      If you start marketing yourself in your niche during law school, it will be much easier for you to have credibility. I would say that almost everyone from my law school knows that I am going to practice business and IP as soon as I pass the bar — and I’m hoping that this will get me some referrals. Every single law job that I have ever had was business or IP oriented. If you build a niche background for yourself before you pass the bar, I don’t see how you can go wrong. Lawyerist even has articles about how to start a firm at low cost.

  • Steve Zaretsky

    Excellent article

  • Inspirational post – thanks!

    One answer to the previous posters: Use your strengths and experience. What fields were you involved in before law school? Your experience and knowledge could give you an immediate boost in credibility

  • Great post, indeed. Developing a niche expands your opportunities, including the possibility of getting into a big law firm in a non-traditional manner. You stand out by demonstrating your ability to focus and level of commitment to your niche/practice area. This focus may make you more attractive to big firm employers who seek to minimize the risk that you will move on before they can recoup the investment they made in your training.

  • Sharmil McKee

    Niche practice is just another way to market. (Perhaps more fun because you are focused on an area of law and clients you enjoy). The key is to find a niche where there is also market demand. For example, asbestos law is a niche but demand is low. Once you have selected your niche, tell everyone who will listen. Join organizations that your target market joins. (LinkedIn Groups is a good place to start). Find complimentary referral partners. Create your elevator speech that explains your niche. Good luck.

    Sharmil McKee
    Business Attorney
    Philadelphia, Pa