I recently posted a blog about developing a niche practice, and included one of my favorite quotes:

If you market to everyone, you market to no one.

A lawyer I coached a few years ago asked that I expand on why he should consider an industry based practice. Here are the reasons I shared with him:


  • Your business clients repeatedly say they want you to understand their industry and their business
  • Industries have industry publications to read to stay on top of what is going on in the industry
  • You may also have the opportunity to write for the industry publications
  • Industries have associations who meet regularly and discuss what is impacting their business
  • You may also get the opportunity to speak at industry association meetings
  • When you build a relationship with an association executive you have also built a relationship with members of the association
  • When you focus on an industry it is easier to find out who the influencers are
  • Potential clients might google “Their industry (e.g. highway construction) and law
  • You have a better chance to become a “go to” lawyer by narrowing your target market

I’ve said it many times.

If you market to everyone, you market to no one.

What is your target market?

When I settled in Roanoke, Virginia after my stint in the USAF, my target market could have been Virginia Tech graduates who own businesses in Southwest, Virginia, except a more senior lawyer in my own firm had already targeted that market.

Ultimately, in 1978 my target market became construction contractors in Southwest Virginia.

Here is a short coaching session video clip with my thoughts on defining a target market.



An associate in a larger law firm asked a great question:

Why should I learn client development and try to attract clients, when the clients I would attract the firm would not accept?

I have heard that question from literally hundreds of associates, including several in my old firm. Most associates asking that question know thee decision makers in more attractive clients are not their age.

I learned very early in my career that the time and the effort to attract elephants (attract large business clients) was not greater than the time and effort to attract small game (clients that could not afford to hire me.) I decided not to focus on contract disputes arising on small projects. Instead, I focused on big, complicated, difficult construction projects.

If  feel agree with me, you might ask:

How do I use the time to attract larger business clients?

Here is how I would do it now.

  • Figure out specifically who those clients are
  • Set up Google alerts for each of them
  • FIgure out which associations they belong to and join
  • If the potential clients are local, identify which chariities and community services the company supports and consider getting involved.
  • Most importantly, figure out the potential legal issues they are dealing with that are in your practice area and write and speak on those subjects.

Yesterday, while I was in Atlanta, I made presentations to both junior associates and senior associates in a law firm. On Tuesday I wrote What Should Junior Associates Learn about Client Development? The meat of my post was actually in the video and presentation slides.

What should senior associates focus on? Again, the meat of my post will be in the video and presentation materials. I encourage you to watch the short video and open the presentation slides and go through them.

The starting point for senior associates should be to decide what they want to do with their career long term. I tell lawyers to think about their talent, passion and a client need. That will help them determine their long term goals.

Once senior associates know what they want to do, they should decide who is their target market and begin to become visible and credible to their target market. I share ideas on how to do that here.

My presentation yesterday was an updated version of Client Development in a Nutshell: What You Need to Learn and Practice for Long Term Success. As you will see, my presentation focuses on three main points:

  1. Planning and Using Time Wisely
  2. Visibility and Credibility
  3. Relationships and Getting Hired

I love coaching senior associates because they see possibilities in client development and work on them. If you are a senior associate, you are at a very important and exciting time of your career. It is time to take it to the next level. I hope the ideas here and in the linked presentation will help you do it. Let me hear from you if you have any questions.