Super-Specialized: Why Law Firms Are Launching Highly Focused Practice Niches

If a family suspects their grandmother’s savings are being methodically drained by her caretaker, they might seek out a law firm with an elder financial abuse practice group. If a business needs help protecting its online presence, it might turn to a law firm with a technology law practice.

Lawyers are fine-tuning their practice areas to focus on very particular sectors of law. In the process, they are creating sub-specialties within already specialized areas of knowledge. These groups often are born as a reaction to legal issues that arise over time. New technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and drones, might spur a niche specialty. Evolving lawyers realized their collaboration could more effectively help resolve clients’ problems.

‘A Micro-Specialty’

Wayne Eig, a Paley Rothman estate attorney in Bethesda, Md., is teamed up with litigator Roy Niedermayer. Eig has four decades of experience as an estate lawyer. He focuses on putting safeguards in place to prevent unscrupulous persons from defrauding seniors. Paired with Niedermayer’s emphasis on halting financial theft, their partnership works well. “It’s like a micro-specialty,” Eig said,” but it really shouldn’t be. Elder financial abuse is a really big problem.”

Scarinci Hollenbeck of Lyndhurst, N.J. debuted its technology law practice earlier this year. This subgroup focuses on intellectual property. The four-attorney team tackles intellectual property portfolio management, and licensing issues. Data privacy and security is also a big focus for them.

“Having different niche practices is very appealing to clients,” said the firm’s executive director, Russell Ascher. “Nowadays you really have to specialize. In the past 10 years, there’s been a large evolution in cybersecurity and technology.”

Providing Counsel

The past decade has seen a rise in the number of states that have legalized marijuana. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. These conflicting laws on marijuana creates a need for niche lawyers . Williams Kastner has offices in Oregon, Alaska and Washington state. The firm doesn’t have an official cannabis practice. But five of its lawyers are now skilled at counseling businesses about Washington State’s marijuana laws. These lawyers help to resolve commercial disputes and navigate new waters for their clients.

Shawn Toor, a Seattle-based associate, has developed a marijuana-advertising sub-specialty. This specialty developed in response to a need he saw. Toor was receiving many questions about Washington State advertising laws governing marijuana businesses. Some law firms blog about state marijuana regulations, legislation, taxation issues, and compliance. These blogs suggest they likely advise their clients on these topics.

‘The Next Big Thing’

Sometimes law firms take another tack. Partners brainstorm about trends, innovations, and technological developments on the horizon. Specialized practice groups are then created in anticipation of those needs.

This was the case at Best, Best & Krieger. The firm recently launched a self-driving vehicles practice group. Its attorneys advise municipalities on how to set policies governing autonomous vehicles. As self-driving cars take to city streets and highways, the firm’s lawyers will counsel the key players.

Finding the Right Talent

To create a practice group that reflects the needs, concerns and questions of its clients, you have to stay ahead of the curve. Firms that tap the best lawyers will see an advantage. Those with foresight, creativity, and an eagerness to evolve can be tough to find. Blending the right specialties for the right niche collaboration requires the right talent. Experts in municipal governance, government policy and transportation are especially valuable in these sub-niches.

For help finding the right talent to suit your niche practice needs, working with a recruiter is the right move.

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