We’ve got trouble. Right here in River City


According to the Wall Steet Journal, there’s a lot less suing going on these days. “Fewer than two in 1,000 people. . . filed tort lawsuits in 2015,” down significantly from 20 years ago.

Why? You know the drill: higher costs, caps on damages, changing jury sentiment against “frivolous” claims, carriers taking a hard line, and the list goes on.

Alternative legal services (paralegals, mediation document prep services, legal plans, etc.) and self-help measures are also thinning the herd. The latest? You can now use a chatbot to get answers to a variety of legal questions and help (advice, sample letters) in fighting parking tickets.

On top of this, more firms offer “low cost” legal services, educating the public to not pay “retail”.

Should we panic? Yes. If panicking is what you need to do to wake up and smell the coffee. Otherwise, no. There may be less business overall, but there is (and always will be) more than enough for you.

But you may need to make some changes. It’s not your father’s profession anymore.

  • Consider changing practice areas. If you handle tort litigation, consider refocusing on business litigation. Or at least adding this to your menu of services. Also consider “emerging” practice areas like “Drone Law”. (I mentioned this the other day, not realizing it’s not “coming” it’s already here, according to the email I got later in the day offering a CLE class on the subject.)
  • Don’t expand your practice areas in order to compete with multi-practice-area firms, in fact, don’t compete at all. Specialize. Be the best you can be in fewer practice areas. Clients prefer specialists, remember?
  • Target the high end of the market and charge higher fees to clients who are willing and able to pay them. Of course you’ll also need to up your game and offer more value and premium services.
  • Target niche markets and dominate them. Become the best known and most highly regarded lawyer or firm in smaller markets. Leverage word of mouth and “influencer” marketing and take the lion’s share of the business.
  • Make marketing an even bigger priority. Pick a handful of strategies and get good at them.

On the latter point, you’re in luck. Many lawyers still don’t get it. Some don’t believe they need to do any marketing at all. You should find them easy to beat. But don’t get complacent. There’s a new crop of young attorneys coming up who do understand the need for and power of marketing, and they’re eager to take business from you.

But don’t get complacent. There’s a new crop of young attorneys coming up who do understand the need for marketing and they’re eager to take business from you.

So basically, do what you should have been doing all along. Narrow your focus, develop your skills, offer more value, and hustle.

There’s plenty of work out there. Go get it.

Good marketing comes down to getting good at the fundamentals