We’ve all heard of the ’30-second elevator pitch, that- perhaps once in a lifetime—opportunity to ride an elevator with someone you need to impress to get that desperately sought-after job, top promotion, or any other crucial foot-in-the-door intro for selling yourself.

And you’ve only got 30 seconds—the average time of an elevator ride! But what if you had a host of
‘elevator pitch’ opportunities to sell yourself as a lawyer across a vast swath of the market you need to penetrate? In a nutshell, branding your firm or your practice is all about: telling the world why they should choose you over anybody else.


It may sound self-evident, but if you don’t introduce yourself, no one will know who you are. Sounds basic, right? Yet many lawyers go through life or their careers, staying somewhat in the shadows and ‘hoping’ that they will get noticed or that some important client will ‘happen’ upon their practice, as they continue to dream of fulfilling their professional aspirations.

It doesn’t happen that way.

Before making a name for yourself, your prospective clientele needs to know your name. Given the
high-tech world, we all function in, getting your name across is probably easier than ever. To introduce yourself will require a certain element of being sociable, but that doesn’t mean becoming an extrovert who rushes to shake hands with everyone in the room. Savvy use of social media, a solid SEO plan, and yes, even in-person social networking are all tools that you can use to your advantage so that prospective clients, at a minimum, know your name.

What Is Branding?

Your practice has a personality, and it likely reflects your personality—or at least it should. Your values, what you have accomplished, and what you have to offer are all factors you will need to project to make your firm stand out and attract clients to you as opposed to your competitors. That is branding, and as applied to law firm branding, it is what appeals to clients and creates in their minds the image of a positive association between you and the field of law you practice in. Creating that image is what creative branding is all about.

Building and Sustaining Goodwill

A Hollywood star’s promoter once boasted that ‘any publicity is good publicity—even bad publicity.’ Not so in the legal profession. One key element that attracts clients to a lawyer is the sense of trust the client feels they can place in the lawyer. Just as no one would feel comfortable going to a surgeon who has ‘botched’ his last three surgeries, so too, legal clients need the assurance that the critical missions that they have placed in their lawyer’s hands are indeed in good hands and that their interests will be well represented.

For that reason, a lawyer needs to highlight his or her accomplishments in their given field, whether it be remarkable jury verdicts, achieving satisfactory settlement terms for clients, or an impressive string of sophisticated commercial closings. What you don’t show, people won’t know.
Your track record from the past, whether as a sole practitioner, an associate with a prior firm, or a stint as in-house counsel, all formed your reputation and put you in the lead going forward.

First Step: Meet People

As with any promotion of a professional, people-to-people networking is still the baseline for introducing yourself and letting people know not just who you are but what you do. Whether it is joining a neighborhood organization, a religious congregation, a bar association committee, or other community involvement, your immediate community is, in most cases, your ‘acre of diamonds,’ where people already know you and from where you can broaden that recognition. The tangible benefits of community involvement in building professional recognition cannot be overemphasized. And in addition to expanding name and practice recognition, you will simultaneously have an opportunity to hone your
all-important people skills.

But beyond such
personal-presence undertakings, technological tools will make you ‘searchable’ and give you prominence in search results. That, of course, requires a good
self-description. So ask yourself the question: how would you describe yourself and your practice to someone who has no idea who you are or in what field you practice?

The Tech Tools of Legal Practice Branding

For legal practitioners, video clips, webinars, and empirical recitals of accomplishments are an increasingly important element of communicating with the public. Today’s consumers of legal services are less interested in glossy marketing channels and flashy advertising but rather want to be informed about the attorney or practice, not just ‘marketed to.’

Meaningful e-content is the domain in which today’s clients dwell and is the environment through which they will form a connection with you. Being informed, educated, and even enlightened about you and your practice is what they are seeking to set you apart from the others they might be considering.

A professional branding consultant can build a brand identity that will evoke a recognition and identification response among those exposed to your brand image. Building a brand should, at a minimum, include a personalized website, an official logo, and perhaps a tag line or motto associated with your practice. In addition, an SEO expert can assist with getting your search results top-ranked from among the thousands out there.

And the Non-Tech Tools

What else can distinguish you from the rest of the pack? An absolute dedication to personal service and not just lip service. A real estate attorney in Chicago always returned to his new client referrals within a couple of hours, or at least that same day. If he didn’t, the client would pull out the next business card handed to them by the realtor, and that client would be lost. Returning calls after business hours—but not close to client bedtime—also sends the message that this attorney cares, is dedicated, communicates, and is willing to work for the client. And lastly, give your clients a written retainer agreement citing the fee and precisely what you are being engaged for. This is not only the ethical norm per the Model Rules of Professional Conduct but also serves to impress the client significantly.


The Issue

How to make you and your practice stand out from the crowd.

The Gravamen

Branding means getting your name recognized and then a meaningful description of what you do.

The Path Forward

Engage yourself with community involvement while at the same time making use of SEO and other ranking technologies.


1. Join Up!

Your ‘Acre of Diamonds’ is where you live; become active in community associations, congregations, and local bar committees.

2. Building Trust

Everything you have done up until now must be framed as your credentials so that people know your reputation upfront.

3. Positive Association

By use of your website, webinars, and video clips you can create the image that you are the go-to person whenever a client is in need of your particular skill.

4. Tech and Social Media

Remember that these are not just tools for online ‘socializing’, or general ‘advertising’, but rather your opportunity to tell and re-tell of your qualifications and why you stand out from the rest. A qualified SEO consultant can significantly boost your online searchability and ranking.


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