Creating a legal brand for yourself is integral to progressing to the upper echelons of the legal industry. However, it is often overlooked or ignored completely.
When pushing yourself to achieve your career ambitions, whether they be to make a name for yourself in the industry or make Partner, you need to separate yourself from the crowd – and creating a legal brand helps you do just that. Here are our tips on building your personal legal brand and why you should have one in the first place.
Why You Need a Personal Brand
Before we give you advice on building your personal legal brand, it is important to establish why you need one at all. The simple answer is that you are one of thousands of lawyers in the UK market, each with potentially similar ambitions. Therefore, you need a way of setting yourself apart, and cultivating your own professional brand can do just that.
You need a personal brand because:
- People hire lawyers, not law firms: Clients will want to hire you for your expertise. While your law firm having a good reputation will be helpful, a client will be looking for an individual they can trust – not a company.
- There is no more ‘job for life’: While the fact used to be that lawyers could stick with the same law firm right through to retirement, this is no longer the case. Your brand will help you get noticed when the time comes to move on.
- Your career is your responsibility: Many lawyers believe it is their law firm’s role to give them the training they need to reach their goals. This is incorrect. Your future depends entirely on you, so you have invest a lot of time and money if you want to achieve your aspirations
- Brands build trust: There is no more important commodity in the legal industry than trust. People will do business with who they trust, so if your legal brand allows them to see the real you, they can form an emotional connection that helps them put their trust in you.
It is important to know that this is by no means an exhaustive list and there are many other reasons why you need to build your personal legal brand. Remember that the value of your practice depends entirely on you – so you have to do everything in your power to enhance your reputation.
Now that we have outlined the most important reasons why you should build your personal legal brand, here are our top seven tips to achieve it.
1. Get to Know Yourself
Your legal brand has to be authentic and be personal to you. This means the first thing you need to do is work out who you are, what you stand for and what you want to achieve.
It is essential that you determine what you want to portray to the outside world and make sure that it’s 100% authentic. You may be able to keep a pretence going for a very long time, but as soon as the mask slips, your reputation will be irreparably damaged.
Another aspect of getting to know yourself is understanding what you actually do. Questions you should be asking yourself include:
- What type of lawyer do you want to be?
- What makes you stand out from all the other legal professionals out there?
- How do you want to serve your clients?
While working out what practice area you want to work in is extremely important (and we will get to that point later), you need to have a clear understanding of what your legal brand will do (and not do) to service your clients and build your reputation.
2. Define Your Market
The second step to building your personal legal brand is to understand the market you want to be associated with. It is essential that you determine who your audience will be and ensure that your brand and messaging will target them effectively.
If you just haphazardly throw your messaging to the masses in the hope that something will stick, or spread yourself too thinly by targeting too many markets, you’ll likely find that your efforts will go unrewarded. Know your market, know your audience and stick to it.
Another thing you will need to analyse is the type of competition that exists in your chosen market. Find out who they are and what they do. More importantly, understand what unique selling points you possess that they don’t – and work out how to use them to your advantage.
The final aspect of defining your market is to identify emerging skills, specialisms and niches that will affect how you work. By positioning yourself as an early adopter who is always up to date with the latest trends, you will automatically set yourself apart from the competition and encourage people to hire you.
3. Roll Your Sleeves Up
Once you understand what you want your legal brand to represent and what your market will be, the next step is to create it. As we mentioned earlier, your career is entirely your own responsibility and it will take a large investment of time and money to make it a reality.
If you have identified an area of law that you need more training in, do not sit and wait for your current legal firm to sort the training for you. Be proactive and search the internet for courses (especially free ones) that you could take. If there is a fee involved, by all means ask your employer, but be prepared to dig into your own pockets if the response is a resounding “no”.
You may also at times find that the effort required to juggle your day-to-day law job responsibilities and, potentially, your family life alongside building a legal brand is just too much. If this happens, imagine how you will feel on the other side – when the work has been done and you are reaping the rewards of your efforts. Some discomfort and tiredness now will be worth it when you are eventually running your own successful legal brand.
4. Use Marketing Tools
Now that you have put in all the hard work into building your legal brand, the next step is to market it. One of the most effective ways to do this is by using LinkedIn.
Using this social networking platform effectively will enable you to target the people you want to reach and portray yourself as a thought-leader in your field. It is also an essential tool to build an extensive network of contacts that may become useful to you in the future.
Your network will invariably consist of many different types of people. Some may end up as clients, while others might be online advocates who share your every post – thereby broadening your reach. You may even attract the attention of other law firms.
Just like when you were defining what your brand to be, you must ensure that your online persona is totally authentic. If it isn’t, you will have a hard time getting people to trust you and all the hard work you have put into your legal brand up to this point will be for nothing.
5. Get Constructive Feedback
This step is useful when building and marketing your legal brand – and beyond. Whatever project we are working on, we always tend to see what we want to see. This is no different.
Reach out to people in your network to get their opinion on what you are trying to achieve. Getting another pair of eyes on your efforts could uncover opportunities you may have missed, or glaring mistakes that you hadn’t spotted.
You may also benefit from consulting a specialist legal recruiter. They will have built a wealth of knowledge about the industry and will understand exactly what it takes to build a successful legal brand. Using their expertise will not only give you the confidence that you are on the right track (or help you get back on course if you strayed away), but could also unlock opportunities that otherwise would not have been available to you.
6. Maintain Your Brand
If you do not dedicate enough time and resources to the upkeep of your brand, it will become obsolete and die. Be sure to keep your practice at the front and centre of people’s minds at all times.
A good way of doing this is to set up regular blog posts that can then be shared on social media. You could also keep in touch with your clients and network with regular newsletters and email updates. Remember that being out of sight means you are out of their mind. Ensure that you are visible at all times.
Maintaining your legal brand also involves you keeping tight control of it at all costs. While you may decide to take a break from networking, it’s imperative this doesn’t turn into stopping altogether. If you let your eye off the ball and something bad happens, everything could come crashing down. Keep in charge all of the time.
7. Get Advice From an Expert
While we have already advocated the use of specialist legal recruiters when obtaining constructive feedback, they can actually assist you at every point during the creation of your legal brand. The reality is that many lawyers are completely unsure about what they want from their careers. If you do not have this crucial starting point, then you will not even be able to start building your legal brand. This is where Jepson Holt can help.
We will take the time to get to know you and your career ambitions. We will then help you throughout the process, offering independent advice whenever it is needed. Even if your questions involve areas outside of law, such as marketing, we will be able to point you in the right direction.
At Jepson Holt, we have trodden the path you are about to take. Our expert team has first-hand experience in building a legal brand, making Partner and beyond. We have also created a free eBook entitled: “Taking Control of Your Legal Career”, which is designed to teach you everything you need to know about building the successful and rewarding career you deserve. Let our expertise guide you along your journey.