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Tip 4: Pick a Big Enough Legal Market

When I used to practice, I viewed rainmakers as magicians — voila, they had clients. But how? Then we launched ClaimKit and I started talking to rainmakers on a regular basis. But even more important, I got to talk to the rainmakers’ clients. The clients would explain to me how they perceived the lawyers out there. And it was a true eyeopener. I got to observe them up close. I will be publishing 30 tips to Build a Practice in December. Please email me if you have any questions: chris@claimkit.com. Before you settle on your legal niche, there is one more thing to do: figure out your market size. Evaluating the market size is a business concept I never understood as a lawyer. I had to figure it out in a hurry during the ClaimKit fundraising effort. Market size is how many people can buy from you and how much do they spend on similar services or software. In typing this, I realize the difficulty of establishing the market size for a particular niche legal market. But with the internet and Google at your disposal, anything is possible. Establishing a market size is a difficult task, but it is worth it. It’s worth it to avoid the mistake I made in picking too small a niche. I’ve already written about how I chose my prior niche of green building law, and, specifically, LEED certified buildings. If I had done some simple math, I would have seen that my market size was too small. It’s actually kind of painful to type this. According to the LEED organization, as of 2014, 12,000 new construction projects have been LEED certified. In 2008, when I chose my niche, this number was most likely 25 percent, or 3000 LEED Certified projects. Lets assume 1 percent of those projects result in claims and litigation. That’s 30 potential lawsuits. That is a terribly small market size. When you think about your market size where do you start? If you are focused on developing a state-specific practice, start with state numbers. If you are focused on a national practice, use nationwide numbers. I would love to know what you uncover about your niche. Please follow and like us:

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Tip 3: Don’t Be a Pain in the Niche

When I used to practice, I viewed rainmakers as magicians — voila, they had clients. But how? Then we launched ClaimKit and I started talking to rainmakers on a regular basis. But even more important, I got to talk to the rainmakers’ clients. The clients would explain to me how they perceived the lawyers out there. And it was a true eyeopener. I got to observe them up close. I will be publishing 30 tips to Build a Practice in December. Please email me if you have any questions: chris@claimkit.com. Picking a legal niche is a great idea. But how you approach that niche so that you become the de facto hire when problems arise is also important. The following story is a cautionary tale about how not to approach a niche. When I was a young attorney, I actively started looking for a niche within the construction law world. I ended up deciding between two: green buildings and public private partnerships. I chose green building law because my girlfriend at the time (now wife) worked at an environmental non profit firm. I then started writing a blog about the litigation, lawsuits and claims that were certainly going to arise out of the trendy green building movement. I published a blog that became somewhat lawyer-internet famous: Green Building Law Update. And after about a year of writing, I came up with the phrase LEEDigation. LEED is an extremely popular certification for green buildings; so I cynically combined LEED and litigation. Lawyers started using it all over the country to talk about the impending green building litigation and claims. Boy, did I feel important! There was just one problem: no one ever called me to work on a green building case. After three years, countless law review articles, chapters in books, and over twenty-five speaking engagements, I had nothing to show for my efforts. There are two reasons why I believe my niche didn’t lead to new work. First, there was little to no LEEDigation. Green buildings simply didn’t lead to an influx of new claims and litigation.  Make sure there is a big enough market for the niche you choose. But I also believe my approach to the niche turned people off. When I spoke on green buildings, I talked about the handful of lawsuits that were out there. I talked about reasons why green buildings would lead to future problems and […]

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Tip 2: Rainmakers Pick a Niche, Then Get Rich

When I used to practice, I viewed rainmakers as magicians — voila, they had clients. But how? Then we launched ClaimKit and I started talking to rainmakers on a regular basis. But even more important, I got to talk to the rainmakers’ clients. The clients would explain to me how they perceived the lawyers out there. And it was a true eyeopener. I got to observe them up close. I will be publishing 30 tips to Build a Practice in December. Please email me if you have any questions: chris@claimkit.com. I remember the day when I decided I needed a legal niche. I was sitting in my office, and I started thinking about the 100 other lawyers in my law firm. We all did construction and surety law. And then it struck me: how the heck was I going to distinguish myself from the other 100 lawyers?  I decided I needed a niche (more on this in the next post). You may work in a small law firm, a medium sized law firm, or a large law firm. No matter your firm, if you are a construction or surety attorney, you have competition. Nearly every state I can think of has multiple construction and surety attorneys. More populous states have hundreds of construction and surety attorneys. A niche is how you distinguish yourself from the pack.  If you don’t believe me, go read this article about being “niche slapped.” Cordell Parvin became a successful construction law rainmaker by picking a niche. He explained to me how he chose his niche in transportation law: First, our country was in the midst of building the interstate system. So, I knew there would be work over the next 20 plus years. Second, at Virginia Tech I met and became friends with guys whose families owned the largest highway contractor in Virginia and the largest highway contractor in West Virginia. Third, and the clincher was when I was asked to speak at the 1981 ABA Annual Meeting. I remember being on a conference call and the moderator asked each of us for our topic. When I said highway construction, he said: “Cordell, no one (lawyers) cares about highway construction.” That sealed it for me. I knew I could become the best known in that niche. So how do you pick a niche? If you are a construction or surety attorney, I would recommend subscribing to […]

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Tip 1: Rainmakers Get Through the Dip

When I used to practice, I viewed rainmakers as magicians — voila, they had clients. But how? Then we launched ClaimKit and I started talking to rainmakers on a regular basis. But even more important, I got to talk to the rainmakers’ clients. The clients would explain to me how they perceived the lawyers out there. And it was a true eyeopener. I got to observe them up close. I will be publishing 30 tips to Build a Practice in December. Please email me if you have any questions: chris@claimkit.com. Right out of the gate, I am going to present my penultimate belief about rainmakers: the key is persistence. Rainmakers show up every day to help clients. Most people fail at something because they are not persistent. I have a guitar that I received for Christmas almost ten years ago. I can’t play a single chord, let alone a song. Once a year, I decide “this is it, this is when I learn to play this darn guitar.” Then I open the guitar case, blow off the dust, and start practicing. A few days in, a hard chord arrive, my tiny fingers start hurting (yes, I have small hands) and I quit. Quitting new things is a natural phenomenon that Seth Godin labeled The Dip: The Dip occurs when results diminish over a period of time. When I am learning the guitar, the first few chords are easy, but then more complicated chords take longer to learn — and I quit. Everything we learn to do has a Dip. If a person can push through the Dip, that person can recognize even greater results. But most people quit when results diminish. I know first hand how the Dip applies in client development. Before I started ClaimKit, I started my own law firm (the name still makes me cringe — The Law Office of Christopher W. Cheatham). Looking back, I can clearly see the Dip: That was my Dip. When I launched my firm, I had some immediate wins. I got two new clients in the door, and I won a big argument that helped one of my clients vacate a default judgment. Then those two clients received my bills and they balked at paying. I could not imagine doing my best work and then fighting over bills for the rest of my life. So I hit eject. I quit to […]

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The Best Benefit Of Every Nhl Months Are The New 3Rd Jerseys

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If You Build It: Chris Hill

This is the third post in our construction law business development series.  Chris Hill is a wild man — he has published thousands of construction law blog posts over at his site, Construction Law Musings.  As a result, if you search “construction law Virginia,” his blog is at the top of the list.  So I recently reached out to Chris H and ask him about his relentless business development efforts. Chris C:  Chris, thanks for joining me for this interview. The focus is on business development. You are the most persistent construction law blogger out there. Why do you do it? Chris H:  First and foremost, I enjoy it. I always tell people that if it ain’t fun, there’s no point in keeping it up. I haven’t been able to get a time to dollars metric of any quality to see how blogging leads to money, though I do know folks have found me through Construction Law Musings. I first began because I heard it was a good idea. Then I met folks like you, found out it was a good way to get my name out there and frankly that I learned something each time I thought about a new post. Blogging keeps me up to date on construction law trends, helps with “real world” introduction as and connections, and gives me some way to get my thoughts on various construction related topics out there.   Oh. . . and it seems to have some business development benefit. Chris C:  The phrase “sharing economy” has been at the front of my mind recently. Why do you share free information via your blog? Chris H:  I know it sounds corny and canned but I hope that my thoughts at Musings help folks.  I would much rather spend my time helping out than being in court, though I enjoy the courtroom also. Like I said before, I actually enjoy the process of writing something that, hopefully, people will want to read.  Blogging is a good platform because the posts don’t have to be long and that is good for a solo like me. I’d also rather have a potential client read the blog and then call because I think that the blog, as opposed to the more static firm website, gives a more in depth view of me and my practice.  Hopefully if a potential client takes some time at Construction Law […]

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