Over on the Avvo blog Monday, personal injury lawyer Steven Gursten wrote an unfortunate post about niche marketing for lawyers. I say unfortunate because the good information was far outweighed by the bad and the ugly.
- A name is not a niche – The main point of Gursten’s post was that changing his firm’s name from Gursten, Koltonow, Gursten, Christensen and Raitt to Michigan Auto Law had a transformational impact on its branding and marketing effectiveness, and I have no reason to doubt that it has. However, that’s a keyword and SEO case study, not niche marketing. Niche practices are distinguished by scarcity, which among other things entails obscure or arcane knowledge and high levels of complexity. There’s a superabundance of personal injury lawyers that focus on car and truck injury accidents, so the firm’s accomplishment — and it certainly is an accomplishment — has been to stand out in a crowd, not to define a singular, ownable and defensible niche.
- Trade names for law firms are not allowed in every state – In Texas, for example, paragraph (a) of Rule 7.01 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits lawyers in private practice from practicing under a trade name, and paragraph (e) states that “A lawyer shall not advertise in the public media or seek professional employment by written communication under a trade or fictitious name.”
- Be careful when claiming to “specialize” in a practice area – Again, according to Texas bar rules:
“The advertising lawyer or law firm must be competent in the advertised field of law and cannot say they are specialized or certified unless they or their entire firm have been certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.” [To complicate matters even more, client ratings and reviews for Texas lawyers cannot use a form of the word “specialize,” and the reviewed lawyer is expected to contact the reviewer to have that language changed or otherwise redacted.]
Other than that, interesting post.