Are You Investing in Any NEW Emerging Practices?
Developing some new micro-niche practice requires a different mindset and a unique skillset. Here are 10 questions to consider:
• Is the client NEED real?
It is not uncommon to get excited about some potential new opportunity without really knowing what is involved. Take the Agri-Business Industry where there are 50+ companies in the high-growth Vertical Farming micro-niche. A good test is to create three hypothetical engagements – describe what critical business PROBLEM you would solve, which lawyers might be involved and how much you might charge. If your answer doesn’t make sense to you, it probably won’t make sense to some prospective client either.
• Do you have EXISTING expertise and experience or would you have to build capability?
Your new opportunity should largely involve adapting existing knowledge and skills to a slightly different application. The test is, if you won an engagement today, could you deliver or would you need to acquire additional, perhaps lateral expertise?
• Is this a service that clients will BUY?
You serve the Insurance Industry and have developed some experience with Cyber Liability Insurance (300+ Businesses in $4 Billion market). Test your intentions with a basic client question: “We’re building a capability in ___; would that be of value to you?”
• Can you protect a FIRST-MOVER position?
Are there sufficient barriers to entry, making it difficult for other firms to jump onboard after you have pioneered the emerging practice?
• Is your TIMING right?
Your new service offering can be appealing but the market may not be ready. 120-lawyer Ellenoff Grossman became a leader in the micro-niche known as SPACs that they pioneered, but it took a number of years before they gained traction.
• What is the LIFE expectancy of this emerging opportunity?
Is this a practice that has a shelf life (3D Printing) or is it related to a specific event (remember Y2K) or could it just be a passing fad (NFTs)?
• Is the market SUBSTANTIAL enough?
Can you secure enough volume to make it legitimate? Will this niche grow into something substantial that can be accessed, or will it always represent a small
• Can you successfully MARKET the offering?
Your new offering will need to quickly acquire visibility, credibility and a loyal client base.
• Will the firm SUPPORT your effort?
A new offering to create a game-changing micro-niche will need leadership support as it may need to share resources and competencies with existing practices.
• Are you prepared to JETTISON the niche if it doesn’t work?
Firms creating an emerging practice should set benchmarks for success within a reasonable period – which means being able to decisively double down on successful niches and jettison those that don’t take root.