In small law, a lawyer personal brand is key

lawyer personal brandThis week, Forbes released the results of a leadership survey it conducted among some of the country’s top law firms. In it, contributor David. J. Parnell analyzed the importance of lawyer personal brand as it relates to big law firms.

Big Law leaders avoiding the limelight

Interestingly, the lawyers who responded to the survey could not name any legal industry leaders they admired. In a similar survey 10 years ago, two law leaders’ names appeared in 13 percent and 6.5 percent of responses, respectively.

In an industry known for big personalities, somehow leaders have taken a step back from talking about themselves. While inflated egos can be a detriment to a brand, clients also need to see the human side and personal touch a firm can offer.

Parnell reflected:

“Many firm leaders may be content to be perceived as just ‘your regular managing partner.’ They attend to their management and leadership responsibilities without much concern for their own public perception, so long as it isn’t negative. That viewpoint, however, may result in keeping both the leader and his or her firm out of the public eye, missing important growth opportunities.”

He also noted that these big firm leaders may be missing out on some opportunities by neglecting their personal brand.

What about small firms and independent law practices?

Parnell went on to add:

“For many firm leaders, the thought of focusing on personal branding may seem uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean that you have to suddenly invent an oversized personality and, contrary to any misconceptions, leadership branding is not about becoming a celebrity. It does mean that you need to think about an approach that works with your existing persona. The good news is that any firm chair or managing partner can create a perception of confidence, competence and success.”

While he’s speaking to medium and large law firm leaders here, independent lawyers should take note.

In fact, small law firms really don’t have the luxury of avoiding personal branding. If you operate independently, your personal brand and your law firm brand exist simultaneously. Your clients will be working directly with you, so they need to know that you are a good fit.

What goes into lawyer personal brand?

Let’s begin with the point above about developing and maintaining an “approach that works with your existing persona.” You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and you don’t need to try to deliver what you think people expect from you.

Be yourself. You are in law and in business because you are good at what you do. That’s where you personal brand begins. Next, you need to think about your values and what drives you and, ultimately, the direction of your growing law practice.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What benefit do my clients gain from working with me personally?
  • What contribution do I want to make to my clients and my community?
  • Am I able to share my knowledge and insight with others?
  • What makes me a good leader? A good business owner? A good lawyer?
  • How can I inspire my staff and/or colleagues?

Take time to consider what sets you and your law firm apart, and develop your personal brand around that. A strong personal brand can help draw people to you and your business.

To learn more about growing your small law firm in Denver, contact us. We offer office space and co-working space to lawyers at two central locations.