Law firms and attorneys may not have globally recognized logos or catchy taglines like Apple or McDonald’s, but that doesn’t mean attorneys don’t have a brand.
Since legal services are people-based (compared to a product), having a personal brand is key in building and growing a legal practice. Created and used strategically, an attorney’s personal brand supports both business development and career advancement.
While most people think of an iconic logo and catchphrase when they think of a brand — a brand is so much more. It is how the product or service is perceived. It is how a potential client feels when learning about it. It’s reputation and information and personalization all wrapped up together.
Simply put: A brand is a story.
Everyone has a story. Creating a personal brand involves identifying that story and sharing it consistently. Attorneys often say they hate talking about themselves or don’t want to brag. A personal brand is based on an attorney’s experience, talent, and niche.
Three Steps to Creating an Attorney’s Personal Brand
Write down information about yourself and your practice. By the end of this brainstorm session, you’ll have a list of your strengths, weaknesses, passions, what drives you to succeed, and what interests you. Also include what you want, from the types of clients you want to represent to your work-life balance goals. Include the impact you hope to make, either for individuals, businesses, the community, and/or specific groups of people.
It can also be helpful to ask for feedback from former or current supervisors, colleagues, and clients on anything from where you excel at customer service to what quirks you showcase. Look at all this information objectively and don’t judge yourself. You are who you are and creating an honest personal brand means either accepting these or working to change characteristics you don’t like.
Identify What Makes You Different
Now that you have an accurate description of yourself, review the list to identify items that are unique to you. This could be anything from a very impressive litigation track record to a legal practice that is specific to a type of client, such as helping people who were injured by unsafe drinking water or motorcycle accidents.
Use the list to pinpoint your strengths. Are you successful in the courtroom because you excel at presenting complex information simply for jurors? Did a contaminated water well in your community lead to your handling numerous claims and building expertise in water quality? Do you ride a motorcycle, so you understand the challenges motorcyclists face?
This step is like those you took to create your legal marketing strategy and your elevator pitch. It’s time to think about your personal brand in terms of how it can appeal to the audience you’re trying to reach.
Know Your Audience
This brings us to the last step: identifying who should know your personal brand. Just as when you created your legal marketing strategy or use a legal marketing campaign, understanding who you’re speaking to is key to creating the message.
Whether your target audience is prospective clients, news reporters, or even professional organizations that recognize attorneys with awards, you want to bring your personal brand to them. Like a legal marketing plan, where you identify the actual tactics you use to reach your audience, sharing your personal brand involves utilizing many of those same activities, and more. Your personal brand is shared:
- On your law firm website professional biography
- On your social media profiles and posts
- In your emails to clients, colleagues, and others
- In every conversation, whether it be in person, on the telephone, or in a video meeting
- Through your content marketing, including blogs and articles
- During seminars or webinars you present
- Via public relations when speaking to news reporters
- In advertising, including print and digital
An attorney’s personal brand comes through not only in how you talk about yourself but in how you talk about your work. It’s not a copied/pasted paragraph but rather specific messaging you want to convey in all your communications. If you’re nice, show that. If your approach is more bulldog, then that tone should be clear.
A personal brand conveys specific messaging and the same tone consistently across all communications. Different than an elevator pitch, which is a carefully cultivated and rehearsed speech, personal branding conveys an attorney’s services and value so that the attorney becomes known as “the toxic water guy,” “the motorcycle accident attorney,” or even “that really smooth litigator.”