Expanding your practice is something every lawyer has either successfully done or wants to do. When you determine a niche area that you are passionate about and that sets you apart and you’ve put in the time to become an expert, you are ready to market yourself. Marketing to your colleagues is a important way to grow your niche area. However, you’ll also want to market in the obvious way, directly to potential clients.
Here are tips I’ve come up with to market my expertise to potential clients, wherever they are, to expand my rural practice to global clients.
Go where potential clients are, physically and virtually
Almost every attorney, since Shakespeare talked about killing us off, knows the value of networking. It’s one reason (not the only reason, but a reason) why we’re happy to be part of organizations, be on boards and do pro bono work for them. However, if your niche area reaches a client base outside of your geographic area, the Lions Club and local arts organizations may not be as helpful. Trade organizations can be helpful, but you should plan being an active participant, whether physically going to meetings, being active on list serves or attending virtual conferences. This is one time that social media, like Twitter, can be useful. For example, I follow and most importantly, interact, with people in the German-American community on Twitter. Whatever the medium, the key is to be active, even if you can’t physically be with potential clients on a weekly basis.
Go where your potential clients go when they look for a lawyer
Just about everyone has heard of SEO and tips on getting Google exposure. It’s not something I know much or think much about, frankly. But, you do have to think beyond Google. In my case, my potential client base are transnationals who need estate planning and probate help, particularly those that speak German. The German Consulates keep a list of attorneys fluent in German. That’s a place where the client base for my niche area looks for attorneys when they need them.
Know the limits of your legal advice
Attorneys whose niche area of practice attract clients outside of the jurisdiction they are licensed in, or whose niches may involve the interplay of law among several jurisdictions have to be extra cautious about the advice they give. You can’t give legal advice about the law in a place that you’re not licensed in. Not only do you open yourself up to unauthorized practice claims by another jurisdiction, but you might be violating ethics rules in your own state that prohibit you from violating ethics rules in any other jurisdiction. Know when to tell your clients where your advice ends and the need for another attorney begins.