A lawyer maintaining a personal brand is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.
It’s not distinct from your reputation, but an integral part of maintaining it.
People hire lawyers, not law firms, and you need to distinguish yourself from every other attorney out there – particularly online.
Now, with remote work still rapidly growing and people turning to the internet to search for information, a personal brand is crucial.
It’s crucial for staying top of mind, building trust and establishing yourself as a thought-leader in your field.
One of the lawyers I’ve seen in terms of personal branding who has been using social media, particularly since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, is Daniel Lo.
Daniel is a private equity lawyer and career strategist, originally from Canada and now based in Singapore. He’s been using LinkedIn to share content about his story and advice for other lawyers growing their legal career.
I spoke with him recently to get his take on how other lawyers, no matter what stage of their career they’re at, can build and strengthen their personal branding.
Q. How have you established yourself as a personal branding expert in the legal space?
D: I always wrote articles, but it wasn’t until COVID that I started to take more of a focus on my personal branding and start posting as regularly as I do now on LinkedIn. It’s a lot of trial and error that I’ve learned along the way.
I grew up with personal branding not really being a thing. It never occurred to me that you could do business development with personal branding.
I used the think personal branding was just for the megalomaniacs or the ones who want to be heard all the time. But the more I dug into it the more I saw it as an effective form of marketing and storytelling.
Q. How do you define personal branding?
D: It’s storytelling. Personal branding is about crafting your narrative.
Everyone wants to hear a good story so have a unique narrative, whether that’s wakeboarding or arts and craft start-up on the side. It compliments yourself as a lawyer – your narrative is important.
Just like a corporate brand you need to understand the product first. So you need to define what your product is and what defines you.
I’m a big fan of personality testing, Myer Briggs test – I’ve done them all!
For the most part, it tells you about general traits and preference you have, which are important to understand when talking about one’s purpose and ambitions.
Once you have a good understanding of the product – which is you – you can start to develop a presence. All in all, keep your core self intact when doing personal branding tactics.
Q. How have you found linking together your personality and personal brand?
D: There’s this book called Give and Take by Adam Grant, that explains in the world there are three types of people: givers, takers and in-between.
Unfortunately, because I’m in the legal industry, ‘take’ is ideal, or so it seems. But I am a giver, so I’m inclined to give support, at the detriment to my time or money.
However, once I started to open up on LinkedIn and open up about my vulnerabilities and struggles, I saw the support from other lawyers, which was really encouraging.
It was to a point that I thought, well maybe the legal industry is moving in a different direction – it’s not so dog-eat-dog world, but more collaborative community based.
Everyone on LinkedIn is expected to connect. People are more open to cold calls or people messaging about jumping on a Zoom call. People can be very receptive.
Q. Why do lawyers need a personal brand to help their career and BD?
D: Now more than ever is it important for lawyers to put time into their personal brand, because everything is virtual.
In the post-covid world, we’re going to see a lot more work from home and virtual engagements. LinkedIn is naturally the first platform to use, and building an online presence is important because that’s everyone first instance of you, before meeting you.
Back in the day, we may meet someone for coffee, but now it’s connecting on LinkedIn before even taking the time to meet you. Time is precious and going forward, the legal industry is not going to be insulated from this.
Every industry has been impacted by social media and influencers. We’re not insulated from that influencer bubble.
Lawyers need to adapt and showcase themselves in different ways. It’s happening already, but eventually, to do business development properly, you are going to need to do this.
I’m an in-house lawyer so there is no business development quota or KPI I need to hit per se. However, for me, personal development is about building your network and curating your audience. I’ve connected with a lot of lawyers and students across the world.
The willingness to connect is great, so it has helped BD in terms of expanding my network internationally to different kind of lawyers.
Q. How can lawyers strengthen their personal brand online?
D: I always have this three-stage process for starting a personal brand.
Number one is to increase your engagements.
It can be a like, share, comment – any sort of engagement in that sense. Set yourself a quota – every day 10 to 20 engagements. It’s not that hard, and doing so you’ll increase your visibility in terms of reaching out to new networks that see you, but also your own network.
The second stage is reaching out to people that you want to connect with
Start curating your audience.
On the weekend I am going to be searching for Singapore private equity lawyers who I’ll connect with and add a personal message, or if they want to jump on a Zoom chat.
This step is more involved, but it is an effective way to continue building your brand.
The third way is content creation.
For those who are comfortable with it, it’s a good place to start because there are many ways to do it. The easiest way is to start with LinkedIn posts, and talking about your story. Your story is going to be different from the next and in that sense, your providing real value.
Q. What personal branding resources or thought-leaders do you recommend?
D: The best resources are the lawyers already doing this now, plus the major influencers not just in the legal field, including people like Gary V and Shay Rowbottom.
In the legal sphere, there’s Angela Han, Robert Hanna, Gordon Chung to just name a few. These people are legal recruiters, students to partners to in-house counsel, so wide range of personalities but they all creating different content appealing to a specific niche.
Robert Hanna does a legal speaking podcast and interviews anyone whos interesting, not just legal people. Gordon Chung is a student who does a lot more on how to prepare your applications and get into law firms in London.
Q. Finally, what are your three top tips for lawyers getting started on building a brand?
- Have a 30-second pitch to the question of who you are and what makes you unique.
- Make sure your willing to sustain and maintain your content effort
- Connect with content creators
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