Some of the country’s most high-profile lawyers and firms now are household names. You could argue that attorney Glen Lerner’s legal brand is not unlike like Ellen or Oprah of the talk-show world.
But do you think those brands built themselves?
Making a name as an attorney does not happen by chance, overnight or without a huge effort. The “magic” is called branding. And the best businesses in the world rely on this active, intentional process to support everything they do and say. In everything they do and say!
What Does Branding in the Law Space Mean?
While you might know you are a great lawyer because you have extensive experience, a caseload that keeps you busy or lots of positive testimonials from former clients, you can’t count on everybody else to know that now — or ever.
Prospective clients won’t know how good you are, what you stand for or why you really matter in the legal marketplace unless you do. That’s what a solidly identified brand does for you in the long run: It sends a consistent message about what kind of lawyer you are and what kind of cases you want to attract. When you see or hear the brand, you know what they do instantly.
Unfortunately, attorneys overlook the importance of brand all the time. They often use excuses like “I’m too busy to think about branding or marketing,” “People already know my name,” or “Aren’t there Law Society regulations about how I can advertise myself?” Here’s the best one, “I already have a brand.”
All of these justifications are short-sighted. Why? Because one day the caseload might not be there. And do you really know the number of people who “know your name” outside of the exclusive legal community? Oh, and, branding isn’t really advertising anyway.
The Unmatched Benefits of Building a Brand
So how do you start to understand the value of building a brand for your law practice? Let’s look at the unparalleled benefits of really starting to make yourself or your firm a household name.
At its most essential level, a brand is the sum of what other people think about you. That sounds simplistic, but it’s really quite complex, especially if you want to be known for something deeper and longer lasting than the best 1-800 number in the state.
Whether you have an established practice or you are a new lawyer trying to compete in the flooded legal sector, remember that name or number recognition is just one element of a brand — a defining descriptor — not the sum of who you are and what you stand for.
A brand must be built, but when it starts paying off it does so in a way that will truly future-proof your legal career. Instead of hoping that clients will come to you solely from referrals or willing it so, you can use your brand to actively attract the kind of cases you really want to work on.
So start to identify your most unique skills, traits, values, and perspectives. These 3–5 essential brand attributes will establish a consistent pathway and platform for all your marketing messages. Maybe you are an expert in the competitive space of injury law, but have a uniquely empathetic way of connecting with clients. Or your research and interest in the area of worker’s compensation is your calling card. Or your firm has mastered personalizing the process of mass torts. Or you’re bilingual and know there is a whole realm of work in advocacy for the underserved.
Whatever you commit to, your brand should represent the values you hold true — a measured mix of where you came from and where you want to go, what you care about and what centers your existing practice. Having a brand with that kind of depth will almost certainly lead to more of everything — new business, new networking opportunities, new speaking engagements and new cases.
While you might not think you have the time or knowledge to establish your personal legal brand, or you think the gap is too wide to play in the same space as the top attorneys, dismiss that line of thinking right now.
Attorneys who take branding seriously and have the foresight to learn and market around what they truly stand for will set themselves up for longevity in an unpredictable industry.
Consider more than just marketing your name and a lawyer who does personal injury versus an entire brand. When you hear a brand, you are instantaneously attracted and know exactly what they do.