Solo attorney, Joleena Louis, shares her tips on how to build a personal brand as a solo attorney.
There has been a lot of buzz throughout the blogosphere lately about building a personal brand. Most of the chatter is geared towards professionals employed by companies or firms, and building a personal brand that features a unique set of skills that will make you marketable to employers throughout your career.
Think of it sort of like taking your LinkedIn profile one step further, and building your own personal website, perhaps writing a professionally orientated blog that features your skills and building a social media authority in a certain area.
Essentially, it’s the non-lawyer equivalent to the security you’d get with a big portable book of business if you worked in a law firm.
For those of us who have left the life of the steady paycheck for the world of solo practice, we are no strangers to building a personal brand. Without it, you have no practice!
Personal branding is what sets you apart from other attorneys.
As a solo, your personal brand is your unique selling proposition. In my case what sets me apart from the thousands of other smart and capable family law attorneys in the New York metro area in the eyes of clients who can’t easily differentiate between us.
For many of us, myself included, my personal brand is mostly a reflection of who I am as a person and my personal values. If it was any other way, how could it not come across as a fake (or inauthentic) to clients?
Promoting your personal brand is another story. There are a million and one marketing techniques you can engage in to do this.
But even though the best personal brands are reflections of you and your values, you have to be reasonably in tune with yourself in order to successfully promote it.
This is something that I gave a lot of thought prior to starting my solo law practice.
What my personal brand looks like.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from working at a firm was that clients hated when they felt like they were merely a source of income for the firm. A commodity.
Especially in family law where, more often than not, the cases are emotionally charged, clients often feel that their problems are unique. To the practitioner who deals with these problems every day they may not be, but clients at least want their attorney to treat them as though they are.
Thankfully, doing this comes naturally to me. (I’ve been told that) I’m a very calm and empathetic person. I find it easy to really listen to people and make a conversation about them.
So I’ve made my personal brand about trying to create a custom tailored personalized experience for clients, particularly with respect to custody cases. My diplomatic approach seems to lend itself well to crafting parenting plans for parents with complex schedules, which often requires getting two parties who may not have been cooperative with each other for a long time to work together.
How I promote my personal brand.
To promote my personal brand, the first thing I worked on was my elevator pitch. Since the majority of my work comes through word of mouth, usually through people I meet while networking, this was one of the most important things I did and it’s tailored to the person or group.
My elevator pitch is:
“My name is Joleena Louis and I help redefine families. Many people have the misconception that divorce is the end of a family, but that is simply not true. Even after a divorce, the family unit continues, but in a much different way. I help my clients redefine their family and plan for their life after divorce by assisting them with personalized strategy for their case, creating parenting plans that work for their family, and referring them to the appropriate legal, financial or mental health professional required to help them move forward. My ideal client is someone who is concerned about the future of their family and needs comprehensive representation in their divorce. They are at the point where they are ready to make a change in their lives and open to taking the advice of a professional.”
When I get the chance to meet people, whether through networking or otherwise, I try my best to demonstrate my empathetic nature in the conversation. I want people to see what it may be like for a client to work with me.
While networking I get to know people and ask about them more than talk about myself. A skill that’s not always easy for a profession whose favorite thing to listen to is the sound of their own voice!
When I meet prospective clients, I take the time to to really learn about their family and their individual needs. I spend a lot of time speaking with my clients and getting to know their story.
This helps me relate to my clients throughout the duration of their case, making the reality of the engagement consistent with my marketing message. I find that this has the added benefit leading to satisfied clients eventually referring their friends. Any inconsistency between your marketing message and your client’s experience will be met with dissatisfaction.
I also actively engage in social media.
Finally, I do a little bit of marketing on social media. I never try to sell my services through social media channels, but I make a point to promote information that is informative, motivational and consistent with my personal brand.
I have found that by working on my personal brand, I have attracted clients who are looking for the type and quality of representation I am offering. These have been clients who value the more personalized attention I give them, and they have been willing to pay a little more for it.
How are your promoting your personal brand? Have you ever really thought about it? Leave a comment below.
Personal branding is just one part of being successful as a solo attorney.
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Joleena Louis is a matrimonial and family law attorney at Joleena Louis Law, a ﬁrm she founded after leaving a boutique matrimonial ﬁrm in Brooklyn. Joleena is a client in Law Firm Suites’ start-up program in Downtown, New York. Her weekly blog series Things I Wish I Knew… explores her thought process and experiences in her transition from small law ﬁrm employee to successful solo practice entrepreneur.