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The Impact of Personal Branding as a Legal Professional

 In the competitive landscape of the legal industry, understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and unique qualities is fundamental to individual success – whether you are looking at continued success and promotions in your current role, or are indeed starting to think about new opportunities in the market.  

For the latter, merely recognising these attributes isn’t enough; it’s about strategically leveraging them to enhance your professional profile and effectively communicate your value proposition to potential employers. In today’s evolving job market, cultivating a compelling personal brand is indispensable for legal professionals at any career stage. It serves as a powerful tool, not only in opening doors of opportunity but also in signalling a robust self-awareness, expertise, and dedication. A well-crafted personal brand doesn’t just highlight your potential for success; it embodies it, making you a natural choice for career advancement and recognition within the legal community. 

As accurately put by legal news publisher Legal Desire, a cultivated and well-honed personal brand is also needed to stand out in ‘the sea of legal knowledge’ – in order to give you a competitive leg-up, particularly when it comes to 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, a feat that will almost certainly serve you well in your longer-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.  

  

Smarten Up Your Online Presence  

Nothing diminishes professional influence as much as an unprofessional online presence and any aiming to be taken seriously must first prove that they are deserving of such respect- whether that be on a professional platform or otherwise. Hence, due diligence must be conducted to ensure your digital footprint is tidy. Any rowdy Facebook pictures or LinkedIn interactions must be managed – either by being exceedingly careful with your what kind of content you decide to engage with, careful management of your privacy settings, using an anonymous profile name or getting rid of certain social channels altogether.  

It can also be useful to conduct an audit of your online presence through a quick Google search of yourself to find out if any damage control needs to be done on anything that could 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 that it accurately reflects your values, ambitions and portrays exactly what you would want those in your network thinking about you. LinkedIn has evolved in more recent years, but is arguably still the channel where professionals converse, collaborate, and network – plus it can also be seen as your online CV. So, finding time to make sure it is on point is well-spent.  You could also join any relevant online groups or forums that might prove beneficial career-wise. If you have quite a bit to say about your professional credibility, you can let your achievements and personal interests do the talking for you on an online portfolio.  

Make Time To Network 

Spend as much time as you can networking with fellow 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. If you feel you lack the confidence to reach out, know you’re not alone – a lack of confidence when networking – whether face-to-face or virtually – is common – whatever profession you are in, but it is certainly a skill worth honing as the benefits far outweigh the perceived risk that any initial feeling of awkwardness or anxiety might project. Being as visible as possible in situations where you are surrounded by individuals equally passionate about something that resonates with you on a personal level or are leaders in your area of expertise, will significantly strengthen the potency of your personal brand and others’ perception of you – so do take advantage of such opportunities that come your way.  

Find Your Voice 

Whilst it may very much depend on your employer as to how comfortable they are with you posting on social media, utilising your knowledge and expertise in your practice area to create valuable, consistent content will go a step further in cementing your reputation and establishing a strong sense of thought-leadership in your brand. You may choose to do this in the form of a blog, a regular LinkedIn newsletter, or simply be an active ‘voice’ in online discussions around topics that interest you – in a professional sense of course (It goes without saying that you want to be mindful of jumping into 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, it is not synonymous with ‘oversharing’. Rather, it involves looking at the six main components of content marketing: inspire, entertain, educate, promote, empower and validate – and choose to stick to one or several of those. This aspect of personal branding is very much focused on the relationship-building element; being ‘seen’, adding value, and then being discovered by association – to provide tangible benefit to your professional development or your firm’s growth plans for its business.   

Increase Your Value Through Continued Education 

One of the most important things to bear in mind regarding your personal brand is its continual growth. As the industry undergoes a constant evolution propelled by new technologies and emerging trends, it is becoming increasingly incumbent on legal professionals to proactively anticipate and adapt to these shifts to distinguish themselves in the profession.  

A continued commitment to education and staying abreast of current trends will ensure your personal brand maintains its relevance, no matter what direction the wind blows. This may involve honing soft skills like teamwork and communication, as well as periodically evaluating the currency of your technical expertise.  

A helpful approach to staying on course is to periodically compare your CV with job listings relevant to your interests. This allows you to observe any evolving requirements within those specifications. For example, many firms now seek legal professionals with specialised knowledge and a keen understanding of their clients’ businesses. An employee (or potential candidate) who is always on the lookout for and actively participates in activities that build networks and networking skills, will add significant value to their professional profile compared to those who show little interest in doing so.   

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 skilled in managing multiple caseloads as a commercial property solicitor, you may find yourself lacking the essential interpersonal skills necessary to effectively interview, advise or negotiate with clients or other professionals to secure agreed objectives.  

It’s also possible that the management in the business may be oblivious to your aspirations for promotion simply because you haven’t communicated it to them. Therefore you are better off being as clear about it as soon as possible, and so when the opportunity presents itself (perhaps at your next performance review) – take some time to discuss your goals and ambitions with them, bearing in mind that you make sure you ask what they believe you could work on to achieve your goals. Embrace all feedback – no matter how uncomfortable – and then begin outlining a step-by-step plan to make any necessary changes. In doing this, your manager will be very clear on your ambitions and will be able to advise on the steps necessary to help you get closer to your your stated goals.  

Building Trust: Harnessing Social Proof 

Leveraging social proof and testimonials is crucial for establishing credibility and trust within your industry – whether thats from clients you have worked with, or colleagues and managers that can sing your praises. By actively collecting testimonials, endorsements, and reviews from satisfied clients, colleagues, and industry peers, you can demonstrate the value and quality of your work. Plus, showcasing social proof of your expertise and accomplishments through case studies, success stories, awards, certifications, and media mentions further solidifies your reputation as a trusted authority in your field. These testimonials and examples of your achievements serve as powerful validation of your skills and capabilities, helping to attract new clients, opportunities, and partnerships while reinforcing your personal brand’s credibility. LinkedIn makes it easy to request endorsements, as well as display these on your personal profile. 

 

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.

 

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Posted By

Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice

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Your Legal Career Checklist

When was the last time you sat down and reviewed to what extent you are meeting your career objectives?

And I don’t mean your annual review with your line manager; I’m talking about your deeply personal career goals and intentions.

Wherever you are in your career journey, it is a good idea to periodically analyse your current position in light of where you aim to be. When you dig a little deeper, is everything working out as you expected? Or do you need to make some changes in order to stay on track to meeting your goals?

To help you measure if your legal career is progressing as you envisaged when you started out, we have created the following checklist to provide you with a snapshot of where you stand at present career-wise and whether you’re on the right track.

When you work through this checklist, it is essential to bear in mind the reasons you are where you are in the first place.

What did you set out to achieve in your career – and what does doing so look like up to this point? Did you plan on meeting certain financial goals by this stage of your career or have your ambitions been driven by more personal goals?

An equally important point to consider is what you value most about the firm you work for. Do your values fit in with what the firm’s culture prioritises? Is there a synergy present in your working relationships with your colleagues and managers?

If you find that your current role or firm is not providing the satisfaction you had hoped it would, or that the pace of your progress has gradually petered out, then it could be a sign that some important decisions need to be made regarding your career sooner rather than later.

Read each statement below and decide on how much you agree, using the following scale –

1 – Strongly disagree

2 – Disagree

3 – Neutral

4 – Agree

5 – Strongly agree

So, let’s get started!

Career Checklist

1. I am progressing the way I want in my career.

2. I have achieved some of my career goals, and others are within reach.

3. I enjoy my work and look forward to going in each day.

4. The people I work with are very supportive and friendly.

5. I feel like a valued member of the team I work within.

6. My manager gives me the right balance between support/guidance and working under my initiative.

7. I feel I make a difference within the company I work for, rather than just being a number.

8. The company I work for really invests in supporting me to achieve my goals.

9. I can see a clear progression path within my current company.

10. I am happy with the level of training and personal development offered by my current employer.

11. The company I work for believes in me and trusts me to do my job well.

12. I feel that my company enables and supports my focus.

13. I am recognised and rewarded for my work.

14. The sector I work in really interests me.

15. I am happy with the location of and commute to my place of work.

16. I feel my company offer a fair and competitive commission structure (if applicable).

17. The monetary remuneration I receive has enabled me to achieve goals in my personal life (i.e. buy a house, go on my dream holiday, etc.)

18. I feel I have the right work/life balance working for my current company.

19. I am happy with the way my working day is structured.

20. I can see myself staying with this company for a long time.

What Did You Score?

Tally up what you scored and take a look below at some of the points you may want to consider when thinking about how you want your career to progress in the future:

 

20-40

Alarm Bells!

Things aren’t going to plan, and you are probably not enjoying life in your current role. We suggest taking some time to reflect on the possible reasons behind your dissatisfaction and what needs to change to have them resolved. This can be anything from your current workload and position within your team to your working environment and even your practice area.

 

41-60

Room for More

A better score, which suggests there are aspects of your job you enjoy but also a lot of room for improvement. For example, you might like the people you work with, but feel that there is a lack of support present within management to help you meet medium or long-term career goals. You will need to find out if there is any commitment on the part of the management team to implement changes, and assess how concrete said plans for change are. Speak with your manager and outline your concerns as well as what plans they have in this regard. Whatever the outcome of the conversation, you will have either gotten a clearer picture of what your future at the firm looks like or a clear indication that your tenure there has run its course.

 

61-80

Meeting Some Goals

You’re neither happy nor unhappy, though you wouldn’t describe yourself as entirely satisfied. Meaning that if the right opportunity came your way, you would be weighing up your options. Whenever you feel this way it’s important to bear in mind that sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If you’re leaning towards a move away from your firm, have a think of why this is your preferred option. What you want to be sure of is that there is no impulsivity driving your decision-making and that an exit is needed because of a bad career move, not a bad day at the office.

 

81+

Loving Life and Your Job

You are achieving your goals, meeting targets and enjoy life where you work. There may be elements of your work life that you feel could be better, but they aren’t big enough of a negative to make you consider working elsewhere. However, we suggest you don’t let complacency set in, as being in your comfort zone for a certain period of time can sometimes lead to that and prove counterproductive to your progress in the long run. If you find that despite being happy with where you are in your career, you haven’t taken any major steps forward in the last year or two, then a fresh challenge could be the jumpstarter you need.

 

Hopefully this checklist has prompted you to think harder about your career goals – and whether or not you are on track to achieve those with your current employer. If the final score however has intimated a change may be afoot, your next wise move is to call on the expertise of a recruitment specialist who can further challenge those thoughts; find out exactly what you are looking for from an employer and uncover the potential reasons you are ready to look at new opportunities in the market.

At Clayton Legal, we have been committed for the past 20 plus years to helping legal professionals build a career they can be proud of, whatever stage of their journey they might be at. If you are at a point where that next step in your legal career is unclear going into the new year, then we can give you the guidance you need to make your start in 2024 the strongest possible one. Give our team a call today on 01772 259 121 or contact us here.

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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The 6 Reasons Why Your Personal Brand as a Legal Professional is Failing (And How to Rectify It)

  • November 5, 2019

As a legal professional, you take your career seriously.

You may well already have a personal brand that you’ve spent time developing. Mapping it out will have made you more self-aware and knowledgeable, as well as signalling to Senior Partners and Managers that you are the ideal candidate for the next promotion opportunity.

Establishing yourself as a go-to for specialist legal knowledge has made you the person everyone looks to for advice. Your brand indicates your strengths, capabilities and enables you to stand out above the competition.

In short, few things are more critical to building a successful legal career than having a strong personal brand.

So, what could go wrong?

Sometimes, your personal brand can slip and work against you, preventing you from moving forward in your career. So, it’s wise to look out for these tell-tale signs that your brand is failing – and how you can rectify it before any damage occurs.

1. Your Goals Are Too Vague

Why are you building your brand? What are your end goals?

A vague “I want to become a leader” isn’t clear enough. You need to have a definite goal in mind. Be it achieving a Senior Partnership, Managerial role or Senior Solicitor within your Law Firm, having a clear objective will help you focus and plan on how exactly you’re going to get there.

And understanding why you want to develop your personal brand will keep you on track too.

2. You’re Neglecting ‘Real’ Interactions

Blogging and vlogging may be all the rage, but are you neglecting the more traditional channels of communication?

It’s tempting to follow the herd, and there’s nothing wrong with having an online presence it’s essential (more on this later), but it’s also worth considering other ways to get your brand across.

Keynote speaking at law events, networking at conferences or writing a guest piece for a legal publication – all these can help establish your personal legal profile. Face to face interactions have a lot more impact than online relationships – so make sure you utilise both well for maximum impact.

3. You Don’t Practice What You Preach

While we’re talking about interactions, considering your interactions with your team in the workplace is crucial to maintaining your personal brand. Having one persona for the outside world and another in the office isn’t going to cut it.

How you treat your legal team is going to directly affect how they view you. Consistency in your communication, from important meetings to casual chats in the hallway, is crucial.

Be aware of your communication style, actively listen and make time for your staff. They are the ones who will bolster your position and recommend you to others, thus building your credibility.

4. It’s All About You

Hopefully, you don’t have any controversial tweeting habits, but when online it’s ideal to mix promotion of yourself with legal industry knowledge that conveys your expertise without it seeming as though you are endlessly indulging in ‘over the top’ self-promotion. In other words, the Goldilocks effect: not too much, not too little.

Ideally, 10 per cent of your posts should be about you (for example, recent achievements or awards) and the rest should highlight current legal news and trends, provoking discussion and sharing your perspective on things that are happening in the legal world.

And it goes without saying – keep your private life private, and your professional life professional online. Mixing the two is inviting trouble.

Be mindful that it may not be something you write on your personal feed that will damage your reputation, but it could be a controversial response from a friend; from political comments to excessive personal information – keep it off your professional profile.

5. You Don’t Stick to Your Promises

If you promised to appear as a speaker at an event, you wouldn’t not show up, would you?

Similarly, if you guarantee an in-depth article to your online followers every week, you need to ensure its there. If you fail to keep your promises, even at this level, you will lose the trust of followers and damage your brand.

So, think carefully before you promise articles, videos and twitter posts and ensure that you can fit them into your schedule.

6. You Don’t Follow Up

Credibility is built on consistency, so being constantly mindful of behaviour is critical.

Putting your brand ‘out there’ but failing to keep consistency is going to damage your brand. You’ve got your LinkedIn profile updated and your articles written for your blog posts – what else can you do?

Just as you would if you were marketing your law firm, you need a marketing strategy for your brand (remember the goals we talked about earlier?) Consistent messages and actions keep your sense of identity and credibility going and help power you towards those goals.

Maintaining your identity online and in-person will add value to your propositions and opinions.

That way, you will establish your professionalism and earn the trust of peers, colleagues and industry professionals to build authenticity and make the most of your personal brand.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking for the next move in your legal career, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, your transition can be smoother and quicker.

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.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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