Lawyers often wonder how to enhance their marketability and in the process, generate more revenue or improve their image. After all, success at a firm is about “revenue generation.” Success in a corporation or in the government also depends on your credibility. This is especially true when you want to be promoted or find another job. To be a successful lawyer, you need to have a brand. Here are 5 easy ways to make your mark.
It is not fun being at a firm as a partner who has to work for other partners for the majority of your billable time. That type of scenario causes the partner to work like a senior associate having little control over their time or their career.
You are also at the mercy of the senior partner and his or her continued ability to obtain more work and have some sort of connection to you. This may be a good place for an associate or a very junior partner, but it is not a way to develop independence and control over your work life and career.
If you are like me and not married to a wealthy partner or palling around with wealthy friends who run Fortune 500 companies, you should be thinking about other ways to develop your own client base. One way is to work on developing a “brand” or reputation as an expert in your field.
Five Easy Ways to Develop Your Brand
Here are some easy methods to develop a lawyerly brand:
The quickest way to enhance your brand is to get published on a topic that is forward looking. Don’t just write about a recent Supreme Court case and synopsize the opinion. A first-year law student can do that and probably will. Instead, think about some change in the law, whether a court case, regulation or law, and how it applies to a particular industry. Show how your insights can improve the quality of legal advice.
Get to Know the Press
Don’t just publish on your firm’s website or blog. You should do that at a minimum, but it won’t get you very far. You need to be published in the independent press, such as Corporate Counsel, Law360, IPWatchdog, Bloomberg, Reuters, etc.
Being seen by an independent publisher as someone “in the know” gives you credibility. Blogs that publish everyday need articles and if it is timely and well written, your articles will be quickly accepted for publication. One way to get published is to write an article with someone who is well known to the press. After you have co-authored an article, you will have more credibility.
Have a Great Media Photo
Although a book should not be judged by its cover, it often is. People instantly judge people by how they look. Get a professional, attractive and approachable photo to go along with your publications. People want to hire lawyers who look sharp.
Join a Bar Association and Network, Network, Network
Get known among your colleagues and industry. Figure out the best bar associations to join. For intellectual property law, it’s the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the Federal Circuit Bar Association, International Trademark Association, the American Bar Association and the PTAB Bar Association.
I was the General Counsel of the American Intellectual Property Law Association. My photo was posted on the Association’s website, which gave me and my firm extra credibility and name recognition. My firm donated my time.
Don’t worry about attending the dinners, but don’t miss a reception. That is your opportunity to meet people and a lot of them. It’s like professional “speed dating.”
Make sure that you figure out who the luminaries are in your field and make sure that you meet them. Spend your own money to attend these events if your firm or company will not pay. It’s a business deduction on your taxes and the conferences are always in great locations.
Speak at Conferences
If potential clients see you on a panel at a conference, they will assume that you are an expert on the topic. Joining and being active in an association is the best way to obtain a speaking engagement.
Publishing on a topic also sets you up nicely to be asked to speak. Don’t be bashful, find out the identities of the conference organizers and reach out to them about your interest in speaking. The worst that happens is nothing and you are in no worse place. The best that happens is that you are on a panel and attracting new business.
Think About How You Want to Position Yourself
Think about your future and what you want it to look like. Once you have your goal in mind, you can target your brand development toward those topics. For example, if you want to be known as an outstanding trademark lawyer, you would want to get involved in the International Trademark Association and seek speaking engagements at their conferences. I would be happy to help you in establishing your brand. Contact me to begin.