Branding tips and positioning tools for solo attorneys
Many attorneys spend very little time thinking about who their clients are. This is a mistake — how can you attract someone to your business if you don’t know who they are? — but one that you, as a solo attorney, can use to your great advantage.
Broadly speaking, a brand is a business’s way of showing and telling a consumer who it is. Good branding for attorneys starts with developing a clear picture of an ideal client. FindLaw research has shown that many consumers with a legal need haven’t worked with an attorney before, are unsure of what to do, and are hesitant, if not outright afraid, to move forward. They want to work with a lawyer they can trust, and they have difficulty distinguishing between what they see as comparably qualified attorneys.
Is branding worth it for a solo law firm?
If you want to draw in a steady stream of new clients, you need to develop a strong concept of who you are and what it’s like to work with you — a brand, if you will. Our complimentary guide, “Differentiating Your Solo Firm in a Crowded Marketplace” explores how to develop a brand in depth, but if you just want a few idea-starters for the moment, here are some of our best pointers for how to develop a strong brand:
Learn about yourself.
It’s surprisingly difficult for people to fully know themselves. That is to say, it’s hard for any one of us to see what others see in us (here are where reviews come in handy). To come to a better understanding of your best attributes, talk to your friends, family, and coworkers. Ask what they think are your best qualities, and what they think might lead someone to hire you.
Chances are very good you’ll get a few unexpected answers, and you can use those to describe yourself and the way you work to people who don’t know you — those consumers with a legal need you’re after. The advantage to doing this is that you will develop a perspective that is more comprehensive and possibly more accurate, and so will serve your brand development better in the long run.
Match your personality to your practice.
Your practice area should be a strong influence on your brand. For example, if you are a wills, estates, and trusts attorney, you’d probably want to highlight how meticulous and detail-oriented you are, since those are qualities people value when they have a wills, estates, and trusts matter. If you practice family law, it would be a good idea to stress that you’re empathetic and understanding, because clients value people with those attributes when they are going through stressful personal situations. You shouldn’t make up anything about yourself, of course. Rather, you should choose the traits that are the best fit for your practice area and highlight them above others so.
Add some color and character.
A lot of attorneys think they should only talk about where they went to law school or what accolades they’ve earned. This couldn’t be further from the truth. To be sure, accolades have their place, but a lot of what matters to lawyers (like your alma mater) doesn’t matter too much to clients, and they shouldn’t play too large of a role in your branding. Instead, feel free to provide a few humanizing details. For example, you could end your website biography by mentioning that you coach your daughter’s softball league, or that you and your spouse enjoy hiking. Those kinds of details fill in would-be clients’ impression of who you are, and so go a long way at building your brand. Don’t go too far — this isn’t a dating profile, after all — but one or two personal things would be a good idea.
Does your brand show what’s it like to work with you?
The pointers we’ve offered up until now have encouraged you to talk about who you are as a person. Another important dimension of your brand is what it’s like to work with you. Remember what we said earlier about many consumers with a legal need being hesitant and unfamiliar with the legal realm? To help them feel secure in their choice of hiring you, speak a little about how you do your work.
For example, you might say,
“I counsel clients at every step of the way, so they are never in doubt as to where their matter stands,”
“My clients’ interests are my interests, and I take every action I can to stand up and safeguard what’s important.”
You don’t have to go too far into detail, but give them a preview of what working with you will be like should they choose to hire you.
If there’s one thing we could leave you with, it’s that your brand doesn’t have to look or sound like anyone else’s. In fact, it shouldn’t. As a solo attorney, you are in charge of what your brand should be, and the whole point of it is to help you stand out from the competition. The more original and truer to you it is, the better it will be.
Differentiating your solo firm in a crowded marketplace
Explore the concept of branding in further depth and find the most effective marketing techniques to develop pipelines of new work.