Expanding Your Law Firm’s Opportunities in a Shrinking Divorce Market

Expanding Your Law Firm’s Opportunities in a Shrinking Divorce Market

In our last two posts, we’ve been talking about the decline in the U.S. divorce rate and what firms that specialize in divorce can do to adjust. Those firms can pursue a couple of strategies:

  •       Aggressively take market share from other firms
  •       Branch out into other specialties

If your firm has seen a decline in its divorce practice, you might decide to pursue the second approach. The decline in divorce isn’t the only demographic change in the U.S. Marriage and family life are always changing. It might be time for your firm to change, too. Here are some potential new avenues for business:

Prenuptial Agreements

It may not be the most romantic idea (neither is divorce, for that matter). Still, the evidence suggests that more and more couples planning to marry are opting for prenuptial agreements. In a survey of 1,600 members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers published in October 2016, 62 percent of the respondents reported an increase in prenups over the previous three years. What’s more, 51 percent noted an increase in the number of millennials requesting these agreements.

Couples aren’t necessarily creating prenups with an eye toward divorce. They might use them as a way to be sure that their individual wishes regarding property are followed after they die. (That said, a couple hiring your firm to draw up a prenup might someday need your divorce expertise.) In any case, a well-crafted prenuptial agreement requires a skilled, sensitive attorney. And that could be you.

Same-Sex Couples

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges decision required all states to allow same-sex marriages. For many family-law firms, that decision opens up new possibilities for business. These couples often have the same legal needs as heterosexual spouses, including prenuptial agreements, wills and trusts—not to mention divorce representation.

It’s not yet clear how big this market will be. In many parts of the country, it might be nearly nonexistent. But if your practice operates in an urban area, it’s worth seeing whether same-sex marriages are growing–and represent a market worth pursuing.

Immigrant Families

Immigrant families coming to the U.S. have long experienced legal challenges. Since the last election, the situation has become even more complicated. That’s especially true for families disrupted by the 2017 recession of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which allowed many children of illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S.

For this and other reasons, the situation for immigrants will undoubtedly remain unsettled for a long time. And if the region in which your firm operates is experiencing an influx of immigrants, this could mean an influx of new business. Even in immigrant families not stressed by recent changes and challenges in the law, their status as immigrants can create legal complications when it comes to marriage, family and, yes, divorce.

Working with these families might require your firm to add a specialist in immigration law, as well as having someone on staff who can speak, say, Spanish or Arabic. It might also require a knowledge of Islamic marriage law. Immigration law isn’t a realm that a divorce specialist can just jump into. Still, if you’re willing to stretch, it could represent a growth opportunity for your family-law practice.

Marketing and Messaging

There’s another aspect in this discussion we shouldn’t forget: marketing. You’ll be reaching out to new groups of people. That will require discovering where these folks can be found. And though it might seem unnecessary to add, it’s still worth noting: You’ll want to tailor your messaging to reach these new audiences.

Change brings disruption. It also usually offers new opportunities. If you’re seeing a decline in your divorce practice, don’t give up hope. Instead, look to the ways that demographic disruption can open new markets for your practice.

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