In summer 2016 Heather Townsend revealed the 10 lessons that every potential partners needs to learn to an audience of 200 lawyers and accountants. In this short 2 minute video clip, Heather talks through the fourth lesson – the importance of having a niche.
What is lesson number 4 about? Let me give you some of the challenges that you probably face as a senior fee earner.
- How do I grow my own client portfolio if all the work comes to my partner?
- How do I make sure that I can justify my higher fee rates if I do the same as everybody else?
- How do I really stand out from my peers if actually I’m a bit of a generalist?
That’s why you need to have a very, very strong personal brand. You’ve got to be known for something both internally and externally.
So what do I mean by known for something? That’s about having a niche, a technical specialism, for example let me pick some of my clients.
How about a company commercial for shipping ports and terminals, and logistics?
What about a litigator who specialises in hedge funds, horse racing, and also financial services?
What about a not for profit auditor who specialises in charities, particularly fundraisers and grant providers.
And that’s why you need to have that niche, so you can come out underneath the shadow of your partner, and so those referral sources see there’s a reason for giving you the referral direct, and not through your partner to then come down. That’s what you need in order to build your own client portfolio. It’s very rare for a firm to promote someone up to partner who hasn’t at least shown the potential that they can go out and win work on their own. And that means you’ve got to at least have had some track record of having won some of your own clients, and that’s where that strong personal brand comes in.
That’s lesson 4, build a strong personal brand for yourself.
And if you’re thinking ‘that’s for me at another time’, the time is now. The earlier you get known for something, the easier it is to go from particularly manager, to partner.