Build a brand for every attorney

“We’ve come to the realization that our [web]site needs to do more to help individual attorneys market themselves.” This statement was recently made by a large firm CMO to Robert Algeri of the website company Great Jakes. Robert and I agree this epiphany is well overdue. Is the legal industry ready to help individual attorneys market themselves? Here’s why this makes so much sense:

For years, law firms have survived and thrived based on the efforts of a few very well connected rainmakers. This is true in large firms and small firms alike, so why can’t firm management recognize this fact and use a strategy that reflects this understanding?

One large stumbling block is ego. Law firms want to brag about their organization as a whole. They aren’t taking the time to ask, “is this what our clients want to hear?” In fact, law firms often create their websites thinking about themselves. They want to be fair to all the lawyers, so they behave as if they are more concerned about equality then strategy.

Does every lawyer at your firm have a one page bio with a professional picture? That may be fair, but should your leading rainmaker, who has 25 years of experience and a $5 million book of business use the same amount of space on the firm website as a new associate? Of course not, yet firms continue to build websites that way.

When I first started talking to large firms about social media and it’s power to help individual lawyers to build their brand, their was huge push back.

“If our lawyers learn to bring in their own business, won’t they leave our firm?”

It is kind of tricky isn’t it? You want lawyers to build a book of business, but once they do you run the risk of losing them. Think of it this way, you can either help your lawyers market themselves, bring in business and run the risk of losing them the OR you can resist helping them market themselves and run the risk that they will never be productive business developers.

It makes sense to give your individual attorneys the tools they need to individually market themselves whether it be training, coaching, blogs or better website tools. Then you deal with the problem of lawyers having greater success.

One of the best tools ever invented for branding individual lawyers is social media. Blogging and participating in conversations on LinkedIN and Twitter build high value relationships and help lawyers gain a reputation as thought leaders. You don’t need to have thousands of followers on Twitter or a high traffic blog to get there- you just need to have something valuable to say in your niche.

Some of the big firm CMO’s are starting to realized what smaller more agile firms have known for years, clients hire the lawyer, not the law firm. Time to create a marketing and business strategy to match that realization. Hat tip to Robert Algieri’s for his article on the same topic at www.greatjakes.com/blog.

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