A lawyer I am coaching recently shared with me her idea for a new niche practice. Her novel idea made me think of a blog I wrote in 2013: Who will become the “hot sauce” industry go-to lawyer?

I was impressed because her idea was one I had never even considered. I told her she was thinking like an entrepreneur.

What did I mean?


I absolutely enjoy reading the Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge web page. Several years ago I read an interview with Professor Joseph B. Lassiter III titled: Turning High Potential into Real Reward.

In the interview Professor Lassiter is asked what the keys for success are for a new venture moving from product development to marketing and selling the product. The professor responded:

In these high-performance ventures, entrepreneurs leading the ventures look ahead and say, ‘Two or three years from now, this is exactly the customer and exactly the product, and this is exactly why they’re going to be compelled to buy.”

He described what this means for MBA students (substitute lawyers).

What that means is that most MBA students should go to work in an area they think is going to be hot—and they’ve got to anticipate where it’s going to be hot—and then build up a deep knowledge of who the good engineers are, who the interesting customers are, what the right channels are, and who the essential business partners are.

I believe client development begins in much the same way. As a lawyer you should ask yourself:

  1. What do my clients need now?
  2. What will my clients need in the future?
  3. What do I have to offer them?
  4. Why should they want to hire me rather than other lawyers?

I did that long ago. I decided I wanted to represent transportation (highways, bridges, airports and rail) construction clients. At the time I had experience handling government contract claims.

Over time I gained experience in other areas. I thought they should hire me rather than other lawyers because I was so specialized that I understood their industry and the business and legal challenges they faced better than lawyers less specialized.

Being the best in the world is seriously underrated.

I love this quote from Seth Godin at the beginning of his book “The Dip,”

Ask yourself the four questions above and write down your answers. I hope you will become more focused in your client development efforts as a result.

P. S. I am still looking for the lawyer who decides to create a niche practice in the Hot Sauce Industry.