How Important Is Your Personal Brand As A Legal Professional?
- June 13, 2023
If you want to succeed in your legal career, cultivating a personal brand is paramount.
An impressive personal brand doesn’t just signal to your leaders and senior colleagues that you’re someone on the way up; the very process of working on your personal brand also makes you more self-aware, more knowledgeable, and more disciplined, making you a clear choice for promotion.
A recent article in Legal Desire also states that a cultivated and well-honed personal brand is also needed to stand out in ‘the sea of legal knowledge’ – giving you competitive advantage and aiding things like client acquisition, business development, and influencing stakeholders.
Put simply, it can help to elevate your professional standing, gain trust and build a positive reputation within your own firm and wider network, that will almost certainly support your long-term career ambitions.
With this in mind, we’ve outlined the key strategies you need to be implementing when looking to build a successful personal brand as a legal professional.
Identify Your Strengths, Your Talents, & How You Can Use Them
The first step is figuring out where your talents and strengths lie. Take the time to understand what sets you apart and focus on letting that shine through your personal brand. Do you have traits that make you particularly collaborative, inspirational or transformational? Furthermore, what particular special skills do you have that will be attractive to businesses when you become a leader? Do you have a large network? Are you particularly IT savvy, or are you good at digital strategy? Once you’ve established what your personal brand’s strengths are, you’ll need to match them with your firm’s culture and business needs. When you have a clear idea of how your skills and style match the firm’s goals, you can develop them further and work on your ‘pitch’ for promotion. In considering how you might best implement your talents, think about becoming ‘the person who helps.’ Certain people can influence the success of your promotion attempt—the most obvious being your direct manager. Consider how you can help that person in their role right now so that you are then perceived as an individual who really does add value.
Additionally, consider how you can help others in your team, as these people may well be consulted when it’s promotion time, and the more friends you have ‘on your side,’ the better.
Smarten Up Your Online Presence
Nothing will diminish your professional power as much as an unprofessional online presence. Those rowdy Facebook pictures need to be managed—either be exceedingly careful with your privacy settings, change your profile name to a nickname, or get rid of Facebook altogether.
It can be useful to conduct an audit of your online presence by Googling yourself and doing damage control on anything that might be viewed as unprofessional by senior leaders at your firm.
Replace any unsuitable pictures with well-taken, professional headshots and update your LinkedIn profile, so it reflects your values, ambitions and how you’d like people to think about you. You could also join some relevant online groups that might prove professionally advantageous. Consider sharing your thoughts, passions and achievements on a website of your own, if you have something to say that builds your professional credibility.
Make Time To Network
Spend as much time as you can networking with competent and respected legal professionals in your field; the more connections you build with relevant people in your field, the more your reputation will grow. Not having confidence when it comes to networking – either face-to-face or virtually, is common – whatever profession you in. However, it is certainly a skill worth honing as the benefits far outweigh that initial feeling or awkwardness or anxiety. Being visible at events that are relevant to your specialism or indeed mean something to you on a personal level all impact your personal brand and others perception of you (and what is important to you) – so do take advantage of opportunities that come your way.Add Value To That Network
Whilst it may very much depend on your employer as to how comfortable they are with you posting on social media channels, using your knowledge and expertise in your practice area to create useful content will further set you apart as a thought-leader. You may choose to write a blog, create a LinkedIn newsletter, or simply be an active ‘voice’ in online discussions on topics that interest you – in a professional sense of course. It goes without saying that you want to be mindful of jumping of any particularly controversial topics.
Digital agency owner, Lara Acosta, writing recently for Forbes talks candidly about the various strategies she employed to grow an engaged following of 55k individuals on LinkedIn, stating that contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t mean ‘oversharing’. Rather, look at the six main components of content marketing: inspire, entertain, educate, promote, empower and validate – and choose one or several of those, and stick to them. This element of personal branding is very much focused on relationship building, being ‘seen’, adding value, and then being discovered by association – to benefit things like business development, or professional development impacting your career.
Increase Your Value Through Continued Education
One of the most crucial things to remember about your personal brand is that it’s continually evolving. As the legal sector evolves with new technology and trends, it’s up to you to make sure that you’re staying ahead of the curve if you want to stand out in your legal career.
A continued commitment to education and keeping up to date with the current trends will make sure that you’re always building a relevant personal brand. Part of your training might include soft skills development, like working on your teamwork or communication strategies. Other times, you’ll need to evaluate your technical skills and decide whether they’re starting to go out of date.
A great way to make sure that you’re on track is to compare your CV to the job listings relevant to your interests. You’ll notice if specific requirements in those specs begin to change over time. For instance, most firms are now looking for legal professionals with good specialist knowledge and the ability to demonstrate a deep understanding of their client’s businesses.
Ongoing education will simultaneously keep your personal brand up-to-date and show both your current and potential employers that you’re committed to your legal career. An employee (or potential candidate) who is always on the lookout for upcoming and signing up to attend seminars and networking events will add significantly more value to his professional profile than someone who shows very little interest in actively developing their legal career.
Ask Where You Need Development
Sometimes, there might be a behaviour or skill gap you exhibit that is barring your way to promotion, and yet you may not even be aware of it. For example, you might be brilliant at managing multiple caseloads as a commercial property solicitor, but lack the necessary interpersonal skills required to effectively interview, advise or negotiate with clients or other professionals to secure agreed objectives.
Another consideration is that the leadership in your law firm might not even be aware that you want a promotion because you’ve never told them. Take an opportunity to sit down with them – perhaps at your next performance appraisal – and make your goals and ambitions clear. In stating your case, make sure that you ask them what they believe you could work on to achieve your goals. Be welcoming of any feedback – no matter how uncomfortable – and then start working on a plan to develop yourself (and your brand) accordingly. Your manager will also walk away from the meeting clear on your ambitions and will be able to advise you on the steps you’ll need to take to help you move towards your stated goals.
The potential that lies in a well-built personal brand is immense and the only limits to it are really your own imagination and willingness to grow. We hope these strategies have given you some food for thought and perhaps set you on the right path toward achieving your career goals.
About Clayton Legal
Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.
If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.