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Summary: Branding in the legal profession means, essentially, promotion.
The term “All you have is your good name,” carries a lot of weight in today’s working world. Your good name is, in short, your reputation. And your reputation reflects heavily on not only the person you are, but the person others perceive you to be.
Branding in the legal profession means, essentially, promotion. Granted, promotion isn’t a task that comes easily to many people. Others may think of promotion, particularly self-promotion as a means to a selfish end. They believe those who promote themselves are self-centered, conceited, even smug and arrogant.
While those aspersions could inevitably be true for some, with lawyers who are seeking work, branding is tantamount toward them potentially gaining or losing out on a legal position within a law firm. Because the law profession is so competitive, a legal job seeker needs every opportunity they can get toward landing employment, an area in which branding can definitely provide an advantage.
Of course, to create and maintain a brand, a job seeking lawyer must first know where their expertise lies. What is their practice area, and how successful within that area have they been? Their next task is to package, position and promote that expertise. The success of branding is getting you to stand out from the crowd. In that, you must list your substantive abilities (your expertise) as well as your form, which is your brand.
There are several avenues one can venture toward obtaining a strong, one-of-a-kind brand. But first, we need to establish some dos and don’ts that go into the process of branding. First, the don’ts:
Don’t exaggerate strengths, college grades, or the greatness and glory you brought to yourself and the last law firm job you had. After all, if you did so well in that last job, why are you looking for a job now? Plus, no one likes a show-off branding effort.
Don’t brand yourself as a sore loser. By this we mean don’t badmouth your last law firm, or the attorneys for whom you worked.
Don’t insist that you personally can make a difference in the law firm you have an interest in working for. Most law firms aren’t looking for difference makers or game changers. They’re looking for business, and if you can bring in that type of difference maker, more likely than not you will be hired. Branding yourself as a great change maker, if anything, sounds conceited, but for the most part will fall on deaf ears.
Now the dos:
Do be humble – what you would have exaggerated about in the “don’t” category you should instead list as an accomplishment. Humility in law is rare. Stating that you work well with others in your practice field, allowing you at the same time to rack up a bunch of billable hours, will do the talking for you. The recruiter will then know you get things done as well as bring money into the firm.
Do be complimentary regarding your last job. Speak well of the people there, especially the managing partners, even if they, as well as your legal job, may not have been your most enjoyable law firm experience.
Project yourself as a team player. If you have any particular legally relatable problem-solving skills, briefly showcase those and relay them to the larger overall successes of your last law firm.
Simply through these six dos and don’ts, you have already established your legal brand. You are:
A team player.
Hold no animosity to your last law firm, the managing partners, or your fellow associates.
A producer whose results come in the form of billable hours.
Think about these and other examples of how to boost your brand as you continue your legal job search. Just by voicing these positives either in a resume or during a one-on-one interview, you will have made an imprint on a recruiter or a senior partner that can be taken very positively.
What are some other ways you can brand yourself for your next law job search?
The ultimate brander employs more than just their written and/or human-voiced resume. Ultimate branders also use technology, events, or even face-to-face impromptu meetings to relay themselves to people. Check out the following sources to find additional ways to push your brand while job searching:
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service. Used mainly for professional networking, LinkedIn has proven itself to be an invaluable source for a variety of job searches. LinkedIn is also where a person can post their resume, update their working status, post articles and stay in contact with co-workers.
With the many attributes that LinkedIn has, as well as the tens of millions of users the service supports, it can be quite easy to give your brand an exponentially larger amount of coverage than if you simply emailed resume after resume to law office after law office. With LinkedIn, your information is easily accessible to the point that a law firm you might not have even considered applying to may still get in touch with you.
Your personal website: With the advent of software such as WordPress as well as web hosting services, creating your own website to showcase your legal brand is quite easy. While having your own website can involve a bit more work than the straightforward posting of articles, updates and your resume on LinkedIn, the distinct advantage of having your own site is it’s yours. It tells only your story and showcases only your legal brand. You won’t share it with tens of millions of other people in the business or legal world.
Keep in mind though that your website is business related. You should think twice about posting your resume or a critical law article on your site beside an image of your dog catching a Frisbee, video of your kid driving around in a go kart or the latest chapter of your romance novel. While potentially entertaining, that won’t speak well to the legal brand you’re attempting to foster. Your best bet is to create another site for those things that are not related to your legal career.
Events, meetings and speaking engagements: If you plan to search for a better law firm job (or are currently searching), you should also plan to attend some law-related events. Show your face and press the flesh with colleagues that you already know and those who you’ve met for the first time. Better yet, to further bolster your brand, check out the event’s venue and think about how you can add to that venue. Maybe there’s a speech you could give, if possible. Or hold a forum that relates to your practice area. Here, you can show your expertise in real time, person to person. At that point, other attorneys will have not just a name and a face to put to your brand, but a voice and the conveyance of true knowledge within your field of law.
Increase your brand recognition by joining legal groups and/or forums: This will give you further exposure as to who you are within the legal world, particularly to other attorneys, as well as showcase your legal knowledge.
Start a weekly podcast: If your practice area is a particularly popular one in society, such as divorce, auto accident or bankruptcy law, consider producing a weekly or even monthly podcast to be released over the internet. Reflect on your own cases for the podcast or other lawyer’s cases. Give commentary and depending upon the cases’ outcome, explain to the viewer how the resolution could have been different.
The legal world is highly competitive. This means finding a job in the legal world is also highly competitive. From what we’ve been shown, it is the attorney who stands out from the fray (in a positive way) that gets the best legal jobs law firms have to offer. Establishing a strong brand for yourself is the most immediate and effective way of getting your foot in the door of the legal world.
Remember, all we have is our good name. If that’s true, we might as well put our good name to use.
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