The #1 Way to Establish Your Legal Career – Professional Branding
The truth is, there is an overwhelming number of unemployed legal graduates with distinction and high distinction university degrees. Grades alone are not enough anymore, give yourself the best possible chance of gaining entry into the legal profession by developing your professional brand – start now!
Gone are the days where early career lawyers are solely seen as billable units of their firm. With new technology and AI threatening to remove many of the entry-level tasks required of newly admitted law graduates, there has never been a more important time to focus on building your professional brand within the legal industry, adding commercial value to any future legal employer. There was once a time where the brand of the law firm embodied the prestige, respect and competence of the firm, now through social media, many lawyers promote their work and establish themselves as industry leaders through direct contact with their clients and professional colleagues. As a law student or graduate lawyer, it’s imperative that you start building your professional brand at the beginning of your legal studies. The legal graduate market is oversaturated, high university grades and community involvement is no longer enough. Law firms are now increasingly placing more weight into a legal candidate’s ability to promote both themselves and the firm, as it suggests an ability to establish a client base. Your professional brand helps to establish credibility, increases your influence, will establish your legal career and will assist greatly in building your client base. It takes time and experience to establish yourself as a person of influence and credibility amongst your professional colleagues and clients. As a law student or graduate lawyer there are some key activities you can do to assist whilst you build your experience. Here’re some tips to help you build your professional brand:
1. Be yourself, be unique
There is an ever-increasing market for legal services and there’s a huge segment of that market which will respond greatly to your uniqueness and point of view. So share your opinion, comment on articles, attend events and involve yourself and engage with others in the industry – just ensure any of your public views are based on sound logic or fact. Sharing ill-informed views will be greatly detrimental to your professional brand.
2. Educate your colleagues and clients
As a law student or early career lawyer, your lack of experience undoubtedly means you will not be seen as an expert within the industry, you just have not had the opportunity or exposure early on in your career. Law firms and potential employers know that at this stage of your career it’s more important to be seen as being involved and an active participant in the industry. You will of most likely written some great assignments during your legal studies which required extensive research. These assignments can be formatted into an article format and shared on professional platforms like LinkedIn. Regularly posting content will over time build your professional brand and most importantly from a career perspective, will make you memorable to employers and your professional colleagues. On this note, It’s suggested to focus on LinkedIn as it is the preferred choice for professional networking. Ensure you connect with professional colleagues and law firms so they can see your content.
2. Choose your narrative
You may be passionate about human rights issues and law reform surrounding the area, or it could be intellectual property law, whatever it is, choose your narrative. You don’t want to be seen as the ‘jack of all trades’. Choosing your niche allows you to establish your credibility and influence in the area. Remember, you don’t need to always share content that is of a professional nature, your clients and colleagues want to know the real you, so share information and update your network about your personal hobbies and share what you’re passionate about. I would recommend keeping it 20% personal / 80% professional. Remember Your GPA is not enough! There is an overwhelming number of legal graduates with distinction / high distinction averages that cannot find employment in the legal industry. Law firms are now increasingly looking for candidates that can build a professional brand and client base. Start building your professional brand early and you will be at a massive advantage compared to your graduate cohort.