Personal branding creates a recognizable name for yourself. In simplest terms, it is the process of letting the world (or at least the legal community) know who you are. All too few law professionals focus on the development of their personal brand, which means doing so is a great way to separate yourself from the competition in the eyes of employers (i.e. private law firms). This review discusses the benefits of personal branding for lawyers, particularly as it relates to employment purposes.
Trust in the Legal Landscape
Law firms want attorneys they can trust. Personal branding for lawyers helps place trust behind your name. If prospective employers have a sense of who you are and the extent of your legal knowledge before they interview you, then you are far more likely to have a successful application and interview process and increase your likelihood of procuring a generous offer. Of course, establishing trust in the legal landscape through personal branding requires you to show your legal expertise publicly (via social media, video content creation, podcast interviews, etc.).
It sets you apart from the competition
The legal field is highly competitive. Essentially every open position receives dozens of qualified applications from licensed law professionals with a strong education and some level of experience. It is all too easy to blend in with the rest of the applicants even if you have a strong resume. This is where personal branding for lawyers can be incredibly impactful; it sets you apart from the competition.
A personal brand is something that very few lawyers develop. Subsequently, it is a golden opportunity to show prospective employers that you are serious about your work and have even built your public persona and identity around your work within the field, which, in return, provides a highly beneficial edge over other applicants.
It increases your authority
When individuals or business entities (as well as employers) search for legal information online, they usually find law professionals who have developed their personal brand. This immediately establishes them as an authority figure in the field. Similarly, when employers consider a candidate who has put a strong effort toward developing their personal brand, they view them with more authority. In addition, law firm practices (and to an extent in-house organizations with a legal team) understand that their clients want to work with authority figures they can trust, which is even more of a reason they are likely to choose a candidate with a well-developed personal brand.
Stronger personal brand, stronger relationships
Strong relationships and the ability to communicate with other industry professionals are important regardless of your field. However, this is even more of an integral skill when you are a lawyer. As stated by Singapore-based private equity lawyer Daniel Lo, “Personal branding will likely be a more effective form of marketing for lawyers as you continue to build a community around you which can support each other in the sharing of ideas, business, and contacts. It’s a more organic way to market, and I’d argue a more effective one.”
Law professionals who develop their personal brand naturally develop meaningful relationships along the way. These relationships serve as good references in many cases, but they can also show employers your ability to communicate and work with other industry leaders. From an employer’s viewpoint, the ability to communicate and establish relationships also helps with the procurement of additional clients, which makes you an ideal candidate for law firms.
Increase in Business Value
Personal branding helps you establish an identity as a legal expert. This gives you more leveraging power as it pertains to job search and negotiations. In other words, you are simply more appealing to law firms and private organizations with a legal department when you have a positive brand image and reputation. This is particularly powerful if you have only recently graduated from law school or have limited experience as a practicing lawyer.
The reason for this is that law firms, in particular, are a business; the more clients they have the more money they make. By hiring a lawyer with a personal brand, they are naturally attracting more prospective clients. This leads to a much greater likelihood of being hired and having negotiation leverage over other qualified candidates that apply for the same position.
This benefit is fairly obvious (and substantial). The more people you know the more likely you are to receive referrals. In addition to the people you know, many more also know you (via other industry professionals, social media followers, etc.). Also, this means the law firm that you work for also receives more referrals by hiring you. Of course, this has the potential to substantially increase your prospects for employment with a private law firm that is an ideal fit. However, this may not directly help you secure a position if you are seeking employment as a part of an organization’s internal legal team.
Charge Higher Rates
The more authoritative and knowledgeable you are in your field the more valuable you are. Of course, this leads to the ability to charge higher rates. You can have the most knowledge within your specialty, but if others are not aware of your knowledge and expertise, then it does you no good as it pertains to employment. Personal branding is a way to show others that you do understand your specialty well and (as discussed above) this establishes more trust, more authority, and stronger relationships that lead to more referrals. All this essentially adds up to more value within your field. This, in return, provides you more leverage when negotiating hourly rates and/or contract terms with prospective employers.
Increased Media Opportunities – More exposure
The rich get richer as it pertains to personal branding. By this we mean the more exposure and presence you have the more likely you are to procure additional media opportunities. For instance, radio, television, podcasts, and newspapers almost exclusively choose to interview legal experts that already have a personal brand. In return, the media opportunities lend themselves to more future opportunities as exposure increases even more from the interview(s).
Now, let us view this from an employer’s perspective. Personal branding for lawyers does not simply improve the individual lawyer’s visibility and reach, but it can also provide more positive publicity and exposure for the law firm or organization for which they work as well. This, of course, leads to an even stronger application for ideal openings within your field.