A great reputation requires years to build; a bad reputation requires a minute to be formed. As a lawyer, it’s one of the few things in your hands that need to bank on.
With the insurgence of new social media and online platforms, lawyers and legal employers have a range of tools at their disposal to successfully stand out among competitors. Right next to these tools that can help a lawyer build a great reputation, attract clients, and present a positive brand, however, are tools that can also destroy a lifelong career. A young lawyer’s legal image and name is a personal brand and best tool in marketing an identity as a successful lawyer. Your personal brand and image is affected by and contributes to your success whether you are at a law firm as a partner, a solo practitioner, or in-house.
Some lawyers hate the idea that they have to market themselves in order to attract and retain new clients—the fancy degree on the wall and quality work should speak for themselves, right?
Right—back in the old days.
Now, clients are more demanding and expect more from their lawyers. Legal employers, therefore, look for more.
The concept of developing a brand to more effectively market and distinguish yourself from competitors at every stage of your career has increased in importance over the last decade.
Here are a few tips to pay attention to:
1. Create a LinkedIn profile. This is a combination of a resume, cover letter, references, portfolio, and personal page. Have a professional looking photo and create an All-Star level page.
2. Be present at events. Bar associations, conferences, chambers of commerce, and committees are a great way to build local contacts. Be able to discuss your specialty and what you do. This is also a great way to stay in the loop and learn what others are doing to market themselves and their brands.
3. Speak on panels. This is a step up from merely attending events; now you are part of the reason why people attend them. If you have expertise to share, you will be able to build on that brand as people approach you afterward with questions, contact information, or opportunities. Thought it takes time and preparation, these events can be a powerful advertising tool and can elevate your platform as an expert.
4. Write. Depending on your writing skills and the strength of your brand, you can write for a variety of content sources. Magazines, blogs, law reviews, and CLE materials are great avenues to spread your brand.
5. Don’t overdo it. LinkedIn, blogging, and speaking at events should not distract you from your work tasks at hand. Experiment with different ideas and see what works. Go with what works, and you can drop what does not. Remember, you are not a reality television star, and there is such thing as too much exposure.
6. Above all else: be authentic. People can sense when someone is faking it. When developing your brand, think back to what brought you into the legal profession in the first place and align that with your work. Your brand should represent your strengths without unnecessary enhancements or fabrications.