“Branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

Once a law firm has achieved national brand status, the next challenge is to not only stay there but to keep on growing.

The mechanism for moving ‘past the top’ involves ‘leveraging’, a term that can mean different things depending upon the environment to which it is applied. However, across all platforms, it means improving the sustainable growth of your firm via a strategy that increases your return by adding strength—or perhaps even ‘clout’— to your position. We will examine in what areas your firm can apply leveraging to maintain and expand its national brand position.

Recognition and Beyond

Leveraging your firm’s brand involves creating a recognizable name in new and expanding spheres so that a wider market knows of the unique benefits that your firm can provide to clients. It requires building on the reputation, accomplishments, and personal relationships that have been built up over the years and making sure that your firm remains quite favorably distinct from your competitors.

But choosing how you will be perceived by way of your brand identity means leveraging the unique capabilities of your partners and associates and leveraging marketing techniques to your advantage. What clients can expect from your firm should be front and center in not just your formal marketing campaigns but also by way of personal encounters that staff have with virtually anyone. From your family dentist to your stock broker and to your neighborhood clergy or retailers, everyone your lawyers come in contact with should be viewed as a potential client, whether directly or by referral. Leveraging social contacts should be an essential part of your firm’s leveraging endeavors.

Partner and Associate Leveraging

Building a firm-level reputation may sound like an undertaking best left to the firm’s marketing and branding managers. But in fact, the leveraging of individuals at your firm—whether the individual is already a ‘star’ or a ‘rising star’— is yet another key to giving your firm a strong, ongoing presence in the marketplace. By building up his or her personal brand, the reputation of the partner or associate will concomitantly raise the reputation of the firm and drive more business to it. Although that reputation may already be well established within the firm—or even among opposing counsel—personal branding to the wider potential-client market will serve the firm’s greater market. By arranging to be featured in a write-up in a local newspaper or maintaining an online blog, personal leveraging should be considered part of ‘pulling for the team.’

Leveraging Technology

LinkedIn and Facebook are among the most powerful business networking devices used by law firms. Each member of the firm should have a profile page that associates them with the firm. A profile is in effect and introduction before the client ever meets you or any member of your team. Because ‘first impressions are lasting impressions’, firms should seriously consider a comprehensive social media strategy that increases their visibility in the market. A compelling bio with an emphasis on your professional accomplishments—as well as selected personal interests—coupled with the right SEO keywords can go a long way in keeping you and your firm at the top of a prospective client’s search results. It is the chance for your firm to give a global ‘elevator pitch’—but on an extremely crowded elevator!

If your firm is not making use of podcasts, it should be. Potential clients rely on podcasts to glean legal information that they need at a particular time or in a particular practice area. Having that information so conveniently available—with your firm’s branding all over it—delivers your firm to the palm of the prospective client’s hand. Building up a subscriber market makes for an even more advantageous leveraging of this technology tool. Even if your firm does not digitally distribute podcasts of its own, arranging to be a guest on another professional podcast is another way of harnessing this technology.

Merger and Acquisition

In the words of Ecclesiastes: ‘Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor’. In an era of law firm consolidation, that adage was not lost on British law firm GL Law when it decided to become a part of Shakespeare Martineau, which in turn is associated with the legal and professional services group Ampa. In the words of Richard Hill, managing director of GL Law, “Our strategy to bring innovation to new service areas and empower our team to work collaboratively has resulted in great success for both our clients and the firm.”

In 2021, there were nine major Big Law cross-border mergers, a clear indication that leveraging reputation and capabilities does not have to remain within the domestic context. As always, growth is the driving force behind all areas of leveraging and, indeed, across all business sectors. To paraphrase the English poet Robert Browning, ‘a firm’s reach should exceed its grasp’.

Executive Summary

The Issue

How can a top law firm further leverage its position for additional growth?

The Gravamen

Brand leveraging can take place in several areas and involve firm personalities as well as the firm’s brand itself.

The Path Forward

Consider just about every contact throughout life as a potential client for your firm, and leverage that contact opportunity.


1. Know Your Own Brand:

Your firm’s brand consists of reputation, accomplishments, and personal relationships; understand how all of those elements can be leveraged.

2. Your Target Market:

Expanding your brand in the marketplace requires building up a perception of what your firm identity is, and how your firm’s unique capabilities can better serve your current and potential clients better than the competition.

3. Leverage Personalities:

Brand leveraging should not be viewed as merely ‘firm-centric’, but rather holistically, building on the reputations of partners and associates and even non-lawyer members of your team.

4. Technology Presence:

A whole world of digital opportunities is just waiting to be leveraged! Fully exploit the platforms that exist to leverage your firm among other firms, among potential clients, and even cross-border for further empowering your firm.

Further Reading:


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