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A question that some attorneys ask me (especially the sharper ones):
“I get how publishing a book about a particular type of person with a certain legal problem can position me as the authority on these cases. But if every lawyer starts doing this, won’t it stop being an advantage?”
This is actually a good point.
YES and NO.
Yes, at some point publishing this kind of book probably will cease being a competitive advantage. But only for those attorneys who get in late.
Let me explain.
The legal profession, obviously, is made up of between a dozen and two-dozen practice areas, depending on how you want to count them. For each of these practice areas there are multiple different territories — i.e. metro areas or counties in which a limited number of attorneys or firms can practice. And then, within each of these is a small handful of different client types.
In my mind, your practice area, your geographic territory, and your ideal type of client are three overlapping circles. And that small segment where they overlap is what we here at Jacobs & Whitehall call a “legal niche”.
Each of these niches is just waiting for an experienced, ambitious attorney like you to step in and make themselves the authority figure.
Now, here’s the thing:
There is only room for ONE authority figure.
I think of it like conquering a hill. No matter how high your hill is, no matter how much its strategic value, there is only ever room for one castle.
If your hill is virgin ground, it’s easy to entrench yourself. And then, when a competitor comes along later and tries to take what’s yours, you can throw rocks down at their head and beat them off from a place of advantage.
However, if another attorney has already published a book and established themselves as the authority figure for your chosen “legal niche”, you’re likely to be perceived as an imitator. Even if your book is more informative.
When it comes to authority, the “first-mover advantage” is very real.
For this reason, my advice to any attorney is always the same:
If you have a good book idea — and, especially, if your chosen “legal niche” doesn’t yet have an established authority figure — get that book written as quickly as possible. Don’t let a competitor beat you to it.
Even if, ultimately, you don’t go through our Speak-a-Book program. Even if you decide to author it yourself or work with a ghostwriter. Get your ideas, your knowledge, your experience down on paper. Claim your hill.
Because if you don’t, some other attorney probably will.