In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, an update on Joleena Louis’ efforts to build a niche market of affluent clients for her solo law practice.
Last year, I started to focus my practice on representing male clients in custody disputes. What I noticed was that when I focused on a niche, the number and quality of referrals both increased. Earlier this year, I mentioned in this series that I was going to attempt to transition my marketing to attract more affluent clients.
In the New York family court system, it’s very costly to engage in custody disputes. What I found was that only clients who had a certain amount of financial “bandwidth” could afford the expense.\
The fairness of this reality is a topic for another article, but for the purposes of my firm, I realized that if I want to continue to focus on custody cases, I needed to continue to narrow my marketing to attract more affluent clients.
I’m now about three months into this campaign. Like many marketing projects taken on by a solo, my busy court schedule afforded me much less time than I would have liked to spend on this campaign.
I overestimated what can get done in the short-term.
One of my goals was to assemble a group of professionals with whom my target clients would also likely need to retain. For example, my clients often also hire forensic accountants, therapists, certified financial planners and real estate brokers.
The idea was that, if the client’s entry point into a custody matter was with any of the other professionals in the group, we would all benefit.
I thought that by now I would have my “team” of other professionals in place, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. I do however have meetings with a therapist, certified financial planner, and real estate broker scheduled for later this month.
I’ve had some early wins (courtesy of the “Universe”).
I knew from the beginning it would take time to really see the results I want from this campaign. This project is all about networking and, in my experience, it takes two to three months to see any results from networking activities.
I didn’t expect to see any referrals until June or July, but I was happy to have some early (and unexpected) wins.
Even though I haven’t started my targeted networking in earnest, it seems that by me starting to let my network know that I am interested in working with more affluent clients — by setting that “intention” in motion — I have received several good introductions and one client referral.
For example, a friend referred one of their colleagues to me. Even though this person was not my ideal client (in terms of my new market niche), they knew a lot of people who were.
I gave this person a free consultation that lasted 90 minutes. Even though they were not ready to move forward, they referred an affluent friend whose case would likely result in at least $25,000 in legal fees.
When I am specific about what I want, I get more of it, including new clients.
There has been one thing that has become abundantly clear to me since going solo. The more specific I am about what I want, the more of it I get.
This has become a particularly effective tool as I continue to narrow my practice niche, and it’s what I attribute my recent successes to (because it certainly hasn’t been from the limited extra work I put into this project).
I’m no expert on the laws of attraction, so I pulled this quote that better describes what I’m getting at:
[I]n placing our attention in a particular direction or on a particular object, we direct our energy in that direction and cause whatever it is on which we focus to grow in our life creating an experience as a result of that focus. Any time we state a clear intentionality or choose to do a particular thing in our life and take an action or step towards that intention, the universe responds and actually begins to bring into our life the circumstances that will allow that thought to manifest with in a way which can be supported by the environment in which we find ourselves.
For me, when I know in a very specific way what I want to achieve, and I put that energy out into the Universe, I find that it’s a lot easier to attain my goals.
This is a little “woo-woo”, even for me sometimes, but if it works, don’t question it.
My plans to target certain professional communities.
Other attorney colleagues of mine have offered ideas about reaching my new niche target market. One suggestion was to target specific professions, especially those that have a culture of doing business with trusted professionals only by referral (as opposed to finding an unknown person online).
Finance and medical professions are two that came to mind.
For these professionals, social proof is a big factor in the hiring process. So the hypothesis is, if I happen to represent a few doctors in Brooklyn, they would likely refer me to their doctor colleagues should the need arise.
Hearing my name from more than one person in their community would provide the social proof a discerning client needs to make a buying decision.
What I need to do now is to narrow down events where I can meet “Brooklyn doctors”, for example, and think about people in my existing network who are in touch with other people in these communities.
At this point, I’m still in the incubation stages of this strategy.
I am a big believer in niche practices and want to provide a roadmap for other solos looking to do the same. Keep an eye out for regular updates on this project!
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Joleena Louis is a matrimonial and family law attorney at Joleena Louis Law, a ﬁrm she founded after leaving a boutique matrimonial ﬁrm in Brooklyn. Joleena is a client in Law Firm Suites’ start-up program in Downtown, New York. Her weekly blog series Things I Wish I Knew… explores her thought process and experiences in her transition from small law ﬁrm employee to successful solo practice entrepreneur.