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The kinetics of sidewise domain growth in an inhomogeneous electric field has been investigated in stoichiometric LiNbO3 single crystals by measuring the lateral domain size as a function of the voltage pulse magnitude and duration using piezoresponse force microscopy. The domain size increases linearly with the voltage magnitude suggesting that the domain size is kinetically limited in a wide range of pulse magnitudes and durations. In spite of that, the written domains exhibit strong retention behavior. It is suggested that the switching behavior can be described by the universal scaling curve. Domain kinetics can be described as an activation process by calculating the field distribution using the charged sphere model under the assumption of an exponential field dependence of the wall velocity. The activation energy is found to be a function of the external field.