Profession: Entrepreneur Lawyer – Adapting supply to demand – #2
You have decided to settle down and wish to become an identified or even recognized lawyer in your preferred field. As explained above, it is in your best interest to devote yourself to one of the branches of law that suits you best.
Alas, to successfully develop your activity, it is not enough to practice the law you love. There must still be sufficient demand to support you. A brilliant businessman may be able to sell ice cream to Eskimos, if there is no market an entrepreneur will have a hard time surviving. The main factor of failure of start-ups would be the lack of market (in 42% of the cases, according to a CB insight study).
So, as an entrepreneur-attorney, you too must ask yourself the question of the market. That is to say, whether your skills can meet clearly identified needs. If you confirm that there is a market large enough to support you, you will then have to estimate your capacity to emerge on this market.
Identify the needs and number of potential requests in your industry and catchment area
No need to convince you of the development of certain branches of law and the phenomenon of judiciarization of society.
There are simple market sizing techniques (“Market sizing”) that you can adapt to any branch of law. Thus, it is easy to estimate certain needs in personal law. You don’t need to look at statistics to know that there is a demand for family law lawyers. If you wish, you can define the family law market (number of potential requests for a lawyer) by consulting public data such as the number of births, divorcities, etc. A lawyer specialized in defending victims of road accidents will also be able to quickly identify the number of annual accidents and potential victims.
As the lawyer’s work is far from being dematerialized, it is important to estimate your market according to your geographical area and to plan to adapt your offer to your environment.
Indeed, most of the time, the location of your firm will matter a lot: a business lawyer located outside of a large metropolis will logically not meet the clientele to which he aspires. On the other hand, if you wish to practice personal law, a location in a judicial desert will allow you to easily attract a local clientele.
If your main location does not allow you to capture a large enough market, the opening of a secondary office in a strategic location may prove to be judicious: close to the coast in maritime law, in a border region in international/European law, etc.
An offer that’s not too wide
In order to quickly become comfortable and emerge in the medium/long term, it is important to quickly devote yourself to a branch of law. In fact, the general practitioner risks being overwhelmed by his clientele and having to reinvent the wheel with each case.
In my opinion, the practice of more than 3 very different fields (as are: family, criminal, labor) risks melting you into the mass of lawyers of your bar. But above all, this will only allow you to acquire the reflexes necessary for the efficient handling of cases. Although it is customary to regularly consult a general practitioner who will refer you to a specialist, you will not be able to build up a clientele ready to consult you (on a paid basis) for every legal question. At best, you risk competing in vain with the legal assistance of your clients.
I encourage you to define your offer on the basis of the 26 specialties established by the National Council of Bars and Law Societies can be judicious and not too complicated.
… nor too restricted
While it is important to make a relatively narrow offer in order to make it clear, one should not lock oneself into an overly narrow practice of law, especially at the beginning.
If you start out without a client base, it will probably be difficult to survive by focusing on only one subject. This may be because you do not have enough clients, or because of a lack of need (e.g.: in-laws law, joint litigation, assistance to defendants of Georgian nationality…) or, in niche areas, because the firm is not well known. In the latter case, a too limited offer seems incompatible with a small start-up structure, as niche law firms have been able to prosper thanks to sufficient experience (e.g. VAT, employee savings, agricultural companies…).
Once your offer has been sufficiently defined, the challenge is then to distribute it to your potential clients. In other words, to communicate well! This will be the subject of my next article.
About the author
Presentation and introduction of Master Chloé Schmidt-Sarels.
Graduated from CAPA in 2012, I did not want to practice as a lawyer at all. So I started my professional career as the legal manager of a start-up company.
After a very enriching experience, a need for autonomy and a certain nostalgia for public law led me to settle down as a liberal lawyer.