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Play moneyball when blogging : Go where there’s no competition

20130505-172855.jpg We don’t want competition. We want a niche. Going after an area such as business litigation is no way for a law firm to do effective business development.

Read ‘Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game‘ by Michael Lewis to learn how effective it is for an organization to do what their competitors are not.

Look for those industries and areas of the law that have more future than past.

This was the message a senior partner delivered to an industry group at a successful law firm last Sunday.

I was there to share my insight on how to effectively blog and use other social media for business development. But the lawyers I was meeting with were business development pro’s. I learned as much as I shared.

The women and men in this group were representing organizations and government agencies from coast to coast. They traveled at the drop of a hat if it meant the opportunity for a meeting that could lead to new business.

They had a niche – and they dominated it. When they knocked on doors people knew of the reputation of the firm and its lawyers. A reputation built by going after areas where there was no competition.

No competition? That’s impossible.

Hardly. Look at some of the younger lawyers in this country who have knocked the ball out the park by chasing a niche. Sorry guys, everyone is a young lawyer next to me at age 57.

Look at Staci Riordan (@staciriordan) of Fox Rothschild in Los Angeles. She’s a fashion lawyer, something probably no one knew existed 5 years ago. But through blogging and using other social media, Riordan has tapped into a network that keeps on giving.

New clients. Speaking engagements in the U.S and internationally, and a presence on the Internet and offline to kill for.

Dave Donoghue (@rdd) in Chicago wanted to get a job in large law in Chicago doing IP litigation. He didn’t start an IP litigation blog, of which there are now many. He started publishing the Chicago IP Litigation Blog covering noteworthy cases from the District Court and Court of Appeals in Northern Illinois.

Donoghue got that job — with DLA Piper, and he’s since moved onto Holland & Knight. He’s developed a national reputation in IP litigation and a reputation that has led to substantial new business.

Seeing the potential in niches, Donoghue has started a second blog, Retail Patent Litigation. Not litigation, not retail litigation, not patent law, but patent litigation in the retail industry.

Think Donoghue’s scared that he’s pigeon holed himself. Hardly. He’s playing money ball, doing what his competition in large law is not.

Donoghue’s speaking at retail industry events, meeting with industry leaders, including in-house counsel, and sharing his insight via his blog and other social media is giving him a reputation and relationships other lawyers would kill for.

Yesterday was the Kentucky Derby. A few years ago Dallas’ Alison Rowe (@allisonmrowe) spoke to a breeder’s association in Louisville the day before the Derby. It was only one year after she left securities work and began to chase her dream, equine law, with the launch of her Equine Law Blog.

I sit in a lot of blog strategy sessions at LexBlog with lawyers and law firms launching new blogs. Far too many launch blogs covering areas of the law which all their competitors are covering, or will cover, in a blog. These lawyers would be better served by bucking the trend and being a maverick by going after a niche.

What do you need to develop a niche brand as a lawyer? Per Riordan:

Believe in yourself and what you are doing. With commitment, utilization of social media and the Internet and passion, others will begin to believe. And before you know it, you can go from a company to a legacy brand!

Look for areas where this no competition. Where there is more future than past. There has never been a greater opportunity to do so than in the age of blogs and social media.