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Developing Your Legal Practice By Utilizing Demographic Data

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Demographics is a methodical breakdown of any population grouping into similar characteristics which are defined by the person doing the demographic research. These characteristics can be age, gender, education, occupation, income, marital status, or a host of other qualities. Demographic can be used to classify existing client characteristics as well as to define possible new clients.


To the attorney studying areas of possible practice emphasis, demographics can highlight and even pinpoint areas with the greatest propensity for success. An attorney whose area demographics show a majority of the population as aging should consider offering services to accommodate the needs of the aging. Similarly, an attorney whose geographical area demographic statistics show a high level of education and sophistication could consider investment-related matters or other issues related to this market's needs.

Demographics fine-tunes the market research process, allowing the attorney a greater level of sophistication in decision making regarding practice services than would otherwise be possible. It provides a way for the attorney to get to know existing and potential clientele personally. What follows in this article is a detailed description of how demographic research was conducted by one attorney and the results that occurred. Through this description, an understanding of the concept can be easily grasped.

An attorney had read a good deal about the possible general impact of demographic trends on her law practice. However, she had not done much research on specific implications and ways to make these implications beneficial to her.

Her work had been primarily routine business-related matters like drafting contracts, advising small businesses, representing clients' collection interests, drafting simple wills for small-business owners, handling real estate, and handling other asset sale closings and similar matters.

She had reached a point where she did not like having little significant or unique expertise. She felt that she was not giving clients the quality they deserved or which would be rewarding to her professionally and personally.

In a discussion with an office colleague, she learned that this attorney regularly used a computer modem to access a wealth of statistical data. She wondered if specific demographic data might be available through this means, and he agreed to help her find out. They searched for demographic trends in the business information section of the associate's data base. They learned that 204 listings were available, which meant 204 articles or journal paper abstracts on demographic trends might be accessed.

Her colleague printed out a list of titles so she could select which abstracts might be worth her time to read. She also highlighted a few articles which she wanted to read in greater detail. Using the computer modem, he printed out abstracts and articles.

After reading the information, the attorney discovered that several important demographic trends were evident. The total population of her geographical base was growing slowly with some areas growing more quickly than others. In terms of age, most members of that area were in the 30- to 50-years-of-age range, with small age groups, younger and older, on each side. Several ethnic groups were becoming significant in parts of her area, enough to suggest special marketing efforts by retailers geared to their needs. Hispanic growth was continuing rapidly in several parts of her area, and Asian immigrants, particularly from Southeast Asia, were settling in large numbers in one section.

Several of the business articles discussed how business marketing efforts were being prepared to take advantage of demographic trends. Other articles reviewed demographic trends and their impact on various industries, which could become good investment opportunities.

The attorney decided that rather than concentrate on a narrow selection of law practice areas, focusing on a client group made more sense. She wanted to target the dominant age group, the 30- to 50-year-olds, in a unique way. She felt that as this population aged, its dependence on health care would logically increase. The health care industry's needs were multifaceted and very challenging. Nursing homes and extended care facilities were clearly industries with growth potential. At the same time, retirement and recreational facilities of all types seemed to have growing markets to serve.

By becoming involved in her target market's aging needs now, the attorney felt she would have the time to develop her expertise and build a more secure client base. She drafted a marketing plan which began with work in her target market's current need areas, such as wills and estate planning, and the remainder in aging health care issues. Her ten-year plan eventually led to health care issues as her sole area of expertise.

She decided that by outlining her professional future according to her demographic analysis, she would have a greater chance at achieving her professional goals. She was relieved that she had actually done the research and seriously considered its implications, as it afforded her the time to plan accordingly.

About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is the founder of LawCrossing and an internationally recognized expert in attorney search and placement. Harrison is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

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Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

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About Harrison Barnes

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