How To Be A Better Lawyer Without Practicing More Law

Traditionally, the practice of law doesn’t scale well.  Revenue comes from billable hours, and billable hours are finite. So how does any young lawyer increase the value of those hours and become an indispensable asset to clients, colleagues, and partners alike? Increase efficiencies and build a personal brand. Here’s how:

  1. Master your niche

At Founder Shield, we describe ourselves as “Insurance for Startups.” We chose this niche because it’s a space we know well: we speak the language, understand the venture-backed startup life cycle and understand our clients’ needs well beyond insurance.

In an increasingly specialized legal landscape, young lawyers are going to be successful by nailing down a niche. Becoming an expert in a chosen niche can be an up-front time commitment, but it is worth it. Being extremely good at a few highly relevant things is much better than being pretty good at everything. As your expertise grows, and you master your niche, your practice will scale much more seamlessly. Clients will be happy to refer new prospects, cutting down time and effort to grow your book. At a big firm, you’ll become the go-to associate for your niche.

  1. Educate

A lawyer who focuses on a niche will see recurring pain points emerge: what questions do clients ask most frequently? Where do they struggle to understand? How do they incorporate your work to improve their general operations and business practices?

Providing educational resources for clients – blog posts, email articles, webinars – can scale your practice and build your brand.

Clients appreciate the on-demand access to your knowledge base, and it helps with scalability: less time spent repeating yourself results in more meaningful billable hours. Providing these resources for free not only builds trust with existing clients, but attracts new ones as well.

  1. Leverage technology

Technology is a game-changer for young lawyers. In some ways, the youngest generation of lawyers has a serious advantage over baby boomer counterparts given its tech-savviness and willingness to adopt new mediums of communication.

There is no shortage of tools out there to efficiently and effectively build a practice and personal brand. Email marketing tools like MailChimp and content management tools like WordPress and LinkedIn make communicating with clients and prospects more effective. Small law firms or solo practitioners can leverage these tools to build valuable content libraries on their websites, and tools like Yoast make it easy to SEO (“search engine optimize,” for you oldsters) content to drive quality leads to that content. Rising stars at big firms can use the LinkedIn long form posts to showcase their expertise, and LinkedIn’s longstanding SEO clout will make sure the articles get noticed.

  1. Build better relationships

Though I landed in the insurance world after law school, it doesn’t mean that the book of lawyer contacts has gone dormant (or stopped growing). Whenever a client asks for recommendations of lawyers, accountants, potential investors, bankers, and more, it is great to have a deep well of referral partners from which to make suggestions.

Young, hungry business lawyers usually go to networking events in search of clients and sometimes discount the value of meeting service provider counterparts. Forming relationships with accounting, finance, insurance, and other professionals can lead to great referrals. A well-vetted list of service-provider partners whose offerings align with your chosen niche can add a ton of value to your clients, fostering trust and long-term relationships.

Carl Niedbala (Temple Law ‘13) is the Co-Founder & COO of Founder Shield, a commercial insurance brokerage that exclusively serves the venture-backed startup community.  He’s barred in Pennsylvania and has previously worked for a handful of law firms, VCs, startups, and accelerators. You can connect with Carl on Twitter at twitter.com/carlniedbala and on Linkedin at linkedin.com/in/carlniedbala

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