One of my solo-centric colleagues, Susan Cartier-Liebel of Solo Practice University is running a two-part series on niche practice over at her Build a Solo Practice blog, so I didn’t want to send you into niche-overload. But I after seeing this article from the National Law Journal on “pot law practices,” I couldn’t resist. Though folks charged with dealing or using marijuana have always needed a good criminal defense lawyer to represent them, what makes pot law such an addictive practice area now is the thicket of conflicting federal and state law policies on medical usage (yes, both puns intended!). State law changes on medical usage are also opening the doors for marijuana dispensaries, which have recently been subject to crackdowns (or potdowns?) The article also mentions Allison Margolin, LA’s Dopest attorney, who was the subject of a post here four years ago on effective use of video.
Pot law makes a great niche for a variety of reasons. First, the laws applicable to regulation of pot are in flux, and questions involving preemption are highly specialized and extremely complex. These aren’t the kinds of cases where you would necessarily want a run-of-the-mill criminal defense lawyer to take a fee, extract a plea and go home. Instead, seems that you’d need someone who follows the changes in these laws to raise ex post facto types of defenses and further, has the intellectual ability to press the preemption issue. Because the field of pot law is specialized, a lawyer can command higher rates, which is another benefit of a niche.
Second, pot law is a conversation starter – a practice area capable of making you that [pot] lawyer. The whole point of a niche practice is to make you memorable, and representing defendants charged with violations of marijuana laws will do just that.
For those who’ve never understood the concept of a “niche” practice area is, pot law practice is a great illustration. But if you’re still confused, take a look at this screen shot from one of my recent presentations which highlights what a niche is not: