Not sure how many of you remember the T.V. Show, That Girl, featuring Marlo Thomas as a small town gal trying to make it big as an actress in New York. Truth be told, I never much liked the few reruns that I saw (I’m too young to remember the originals), but the concept of being a stand out – of being that girl, or that something always appealed to me.
Years later, I find myself referencing “That Girl” as I try to convey the significance of finding – or better yet, creating a niche, which is defined as a distinct segment of a market. For starters, niches offer a way to follow your passion, as described in this recent, excellent article by Ann Macauley, Discover and Market Your Niche, which identifies wine law, video law and international art law as three niche practices in Canada. Niches seem narrow, yet they run deep, often requiring mastery of a cross-section of legal issues.
Niches also make it easier, not to mention more enjoyable to target your marketing efforts. Indeed, blogs are virtually a tailor-made marketing tool for niches, because you can set up a blog on a discrete topic in a matter of minutes.
But more than anything else, niches put some pizazz into your practice; they make you memorable. In short, they make you That [fill in the blank] lawyer. The best example I can give relates to a David Kaufman, colleague and friend of mine, not to mention a first-rate litigator here in the DC area who specializes in Business Brawls, the knock-down, no-holds-bar disputes that arise out of business deals gone sour. A few times a year, I’ll wind up at a local solo lunch with David, where he introduces himself with the tag line “I do business brawls.” Months later, if I run into folks from the lunch and mention David or refer his services, the response is always “Oh yeah, Kaufman – he’s that business brawls guy.”
That’s what I mean by being that lawyer. David Kaufman is THAT business brawls lawyer, just like Lisa Solomon is THAT legal research and writing lawyer and Kelly Erb is THAT tax girl lawyer and Chuck Newton is THAT Stay Violation and Third Wave lawyer and Tom Goldstein is still, forever THAT ambulance chasing, Supreme Court lawyer…the list goes on. As for me, well by day I’m THAT ocean energy lawyer (and of course, THAT MyShingle blogger).
Being THAT lawyer doesn’t have to consume your entire practice. Ocean renewables account for maybe 15 percent of my revenues, but it also gets me attention in more conventional, bread-and-butter energy matters. But being THAT ocean energy lawyer makes me stand out from all the other lock-step cookie-cutter energy regulatory attorneys.
So why not give it a try, and think about what kind of THAT lawyer you want to be. And if you’re already THAT lawyer, post a comment and let us know what kind of THAT lawyer you are
Note: By the way, for the next three days, I am seriously going to be slipping into THAT ocean energy lawyer mode from Wednesday forward as my trade association hosts our second annual Global Marine Renewable Conference here in Washington D.C. Expect light postings through the week.