Having a strong personal brand can pay off in more ways than one.
What is a Personal Brand?
In legal circles, everyone knows that there are lawyers whose reputations precede them: the attorney known for complex energy litigation, the must-have mediator for a construction matter or the fierce trial lawyer in the tan suit. Beyond skill, experience, and reputation, what do attorneys like this have in common? They have each crafted and maintained a personal brand.What, exactly, is a personal brand? To put it simply, it is the sum of your reputation, peer perceptions, characteristics and traits that make you different from any other lawyer. A personal brand includes not just your legal knowledge, but can also encompass qualities such as how eloquently you speak, your attitude towards clients and your philanthropic activities. Branding, unlike reputation, requires a strategic effort to position your skills. It isn’t something that happens overnight.Why is it important?
As an associate, a lot of your brand may be tied to the brand and reputation of your firm. You may not have much control over your firm’s brand; however, you can control your own. Benefits of creating a personal brand include:
- Focus – A good lawyer cannot be everything to every client. Knowing your area of expertise and honing in on your niche will focus your efforts on the matters that will build your career.
- More business – As your skill set and experience grows within your niche, it will attract more of the clients who need that set of services.
- Better opportunities – A more significant book of business and a more extensive professional network can lead to bigger and better opportunities outside your current firm. You know that your personal branding plan has been effective if a legal search firm seeks you out for your particular expertise!
- It belongs to you – You can take your personal brand with you, wherever you practice.
How to Build Your Brand
- Determine your niche or specialized area of expertise. If you are early in your career and working a myriad of matters, pay keen attention to the cases that appeal to you and where your skill set shines. It may take time to materialize, but create a clear idea of how you want to be seen or thought of as an attorney. Write it down, refer to it frequently and fine tune it as needed.
- Align yourself with industry experts. Whether your selected niche is real estate, employment, or oil & gas, there are local and national industry groups. Join some of these trade groups and take advantage of the events, publications, and discussions. On the legal side, be active in your local and State Bar association industry or practice group. Cultivate relationships with a range of professionals connected to the industry.
- Share your expertise. Look for speaking opportunities or panel discussions. Speaking on a topic will showcase your expertise to a large group and also offers the opportunity for interaction. Contribute articles and commentary on your niche to trade publications, newspapers, magazines and online forums. Contribute blog posts to industry forums, your firm’s blog, or start your legal blog.
- Submit for rankings. Attorneys are continually bombarded with ranking and listing opportunities throughout the year, each claiming to be the “premier” source for legal information. Select a few of the most reputable ones to pursue and prepare your submission. Depending on your firm, this may be handled individually, or through the firm’s marketing department.
- Polish your online presence. Update your LinkedIn bio to include your niche or area of specialty. Add relevant industry designations or memberships. If your firm bio includes a section for casework, be sure that the cases in your specialty are listed first. Clean up your other social media posts to bring them in line with your personal brand.
Talk to the experts at Collier Legal Search
about the importance of personal branding and professional reputation. We are a full-service legal staffing company that specializes in placing well-credentialed partners, associates and legal professionals at every level in law firms and corporations.