Why lawyer branding is important
Whether you’ve just passed the bar exam or have been a partner at a top law firm for twenty years, lawyer branding is essential.
Today, online screenings – both formal and informal determine whether or not people will hire you, work for you, or refer new clients to you. The legal profession has historically been slow-moving when it comes to adopting online lawyer branding and law firm branding as standard practice.
But over the past few years that has changed significantly when you look at increases in social media use, personal website development and blogging by individual attorneys and law firms alike. Just take a look at the findings from the most recent ABA Techreport! ORM is a necessity for successful attorneys and law firms.
Attorneys report that they choose to pursue online lawyer branding and engage on the web for a number of reasons. The attorneys surveyed in 2017’s ABA Techreport listed the following as their reasons for social networking use:
- 69% for career development or networking
- 56% for client development
- 39% for education or current awareness
- 21% for case investigation
- 4% Other
In addition to understanding the reasons that attorneys invest their time in social networking, it’s important to take a step back and consider how potential clients use the internet when seeking legal counsel.
Important stats about lawyer branding and law firm branding:
- According to a Google Consumer Survey, 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine.
- 74% of consumers visit a law firm’s website to take action.
- And according to one survey from 2015, Internet search was one of the most common ways that people found law firms (second only to information from friends).
Whether you choose to actively manage your (or your firm’s) brand online or not, the data has spoken. Potential clients are looking for attorneys and law firms online, and what they find matters.
This guide will show you how to make online lawyer branding work for you so that you land and retain more clients and win more professional opportunities.
Before getting started, we’d like to discuss some of the most common questions and concerns voiced by attorneys and law firms when we first start working with them.
FAQs about lawyer branding from attorneys
Q. Online branding isn’t a priority – attracting and maintaining clients is. What is the ROI of executing a lawyer or law firm branding strategy?
A. Attracting and maintaining clients by being great at what you do should be a priority. However, lawyer branding and law firm branding directly contribute to those two goals.
Online search is a common tool that people use to find and evaluate everything – even legal counsel. If what they find about a lawyer or law firm online isn’t informative, is negative, doesn’t look credible, or doesn’t exist – they will just go to competitors who look better online.
And in terms of ROI, consider this:
- According to a study from Rocket Marketing, 40% of small law firms don’t have websites. If you work at a small law firm, you can really stand out by having a well-optimized and well-executed website.
- 27% of respondents to the 2017 ABA Tech report indicated that they had a client retain their legal services directly or via referral because of their use of social networking sites for professional purposes. And that statistic doesn’t even explore the quality of the strategy used to acquire and maintain clients. With the right strategy and execution, this percentage is likely much higher.
- A shocking 80% of lawyers in firms of 500+ attorneys who personally maintain a legal blog report getting clients as a result of their blogging activity. (ABA Techreport, 2017)
- Lawyers who blog in firms of 2-9 or 50-99 lawyers each reported a greater than 50% success rate in client retention as a result of blogging. (ABA Techreport, 2017)
When it comes to devoting your energy and resources to lawyer branding, the data speaks for itself. Proper law firm branding strategy helps you beat your competition, attract more clients, and retain existing clients.
Q. Clients, attorneys, judges and juries wouldn’t take me seriously if they ever found my Facebook account – and you’re telling me I should make it public?!
A. You’re probably right. If anyone that you know in a professional capacity ever found your Facebook account they might seriously question your credibility.
But if you’re convinced that that’s the case, you need to perform some edits on the social media profiles that you control ASAP. Regardless of the privacy settings you (think you) chose, or how clever your pseudonym, there’s a good chance that anything you’ve posted there could become public information.
You need to clean up your Facebook account now, and any other social media profiles that you control. Eventually you will be able to leverage these accounts in part of your quest for successful lawyer branding. But before that can happen, you must ensure that these profiles are in line with the professional online brand that you’re trying to develop.
Q. My firm has a strict policy that limits and monitors the online activity of the lawyers, how can I build an online brand?
A. This kind of policy shouldn’t discourage you from investing time in building out your personal brand. In fact, this should encourage you. Make sure that you fully understand what the actual guidelines and policies are before assuming that you can’t post anything online.
These rules will help you in being even more selective and strategic about what it is that you choose to create and share online. We often encourage our clients to imagine that their bosses or parents read everything that they post online. In this case, your bosses actually are monitoring what it is that you choose to share online.
That should make you feel even more intentional and strategic about what you’re doing. Don’t share anything confidential, clearly state that all opinions are your own and cannot be construed as legal advice, avoid red flag behavior, and focus on developing reinforcing positive content (more on those last two later).
Q. Building a website & being active on social media could trigger compliance issues, how can this be prevented?
Luckily attorneys can build and maintain an informative and effective online brand without violating any compliance issues. Whether you create your brand on your own, use BrandYourself’s software or work with our Managed Services team – you get to set the boundaries.
You get to determine the type of content created, published, shared, engaged with and endorsed under your name.
Furthermore, it’s easy to include language that explicitly states that all of the content found on your site or profiles is your own opinion and shall not be construed as legal counsel.
Disclaimers on your site, blog, newsletter content, embedded in social media content or on social profiles are more than acceptable when it comes to developing your online presence. You don’t have to choose between compliance and having an online brand. Instead, go for the third option – a compliant lawyer branding strategy!
Q. I don’t have time to build an online brand because I am busy practicing law, what are my options?
A. At BrandYourself we pride ourselves on empowering everyone with the information that they need to take control of how they look online. That’s why our offerings include everything from free access to our DIY reputation management software to customized boutique branding services led by our in-house Managed services department.
As an individual attorney with little time to spare, we are happy to help you choose the Managed Services package that aligns most closely with your goals. Don’t think you’ll have time to share your thoughts, but you want your brand voice to be as authentic to you as possible? Our brand strategists are extremely creative and driven when it comes to working around a client’s schedule and delivering the desired results.
We also work with law firms to create a customized law firm branding strategy, as well as executive branding options that include executing strategies for each attorney and any other key personnel.
Q. A negative search result comes up when you search my name, can you remove that?
A. Whether a competing attorney mounted a smear campaign against you, a disgruntled client wrote awful things about you on a website, you lost a case, or someone with your name has a criminal record – negative search results are costing you business.
Depending on what the negative search result is, you may be able to get it deindexed (so that it won’t come up as a search result) with a takedown request. However, rules regarding takedown requests in the US are pretty strict, so if that search result doesn’t fall under those guidelines, your request won’t be honored.
Your best bet is to build an informative, high-quality online brand with properties that you do control.To learn more about dealing with negative search results, make sure to read through our guide, and see how else BrandYourself can help in the last section of this post.
Key steps to a successful online brand as an attorney or lawyer
Regardless of your area of expertise, level of experience or where you work, a personal brand is a must for lawyers and attorneys who want to increase their professional opportunities. When it comes to successfully building a brand that attracts clients, impresses (and retains) existing clients, and encourages growth opportunities – follow these three pillars:
- Pillar 1: Build a basic brand
- Pillar 2: Build credibility & an audience
- Pillar 3: Target Opportunities
Pillar 1: Build a basic brand
Whether you already control a number of social media profiles and websites or not, you need web properties that are working for you. That means building or optimizing key profiles and websites. When looking to improve your brand, this foundational phase is critical to the health and long-term success of your online presence. Building a basic brand should include the following steps:
- Scan and audit search results for your name.
- Clean up any content you control that doesn’t support the professional image you want to project online.
- Define yourself and your personal brand with a very clear personal mission statement and core brand values.
- Build an online presence that reflects your personal mission statement and showcases your areas of expertise.
- Devise and follow a personal branding strategy that addresses your professional priorities and stick to the deadlines you set.
To learn more about each of these steps, make sure to read our personal branding guide. And if you sign up for BrandYourself’s free ORM software you can automatically scan search results for your name, flag damaging content on your social profiles and learn how to create & optimize your accounts step-by-step.
When it comes to building a strong online foundation for attorneys and lawyers, we suggest that you start with the 10-12 online properties suggested in the personal branding guide. However, it’s especially important that lawyers create or optimize their profiles on law-specific sites like Avvo or Martindale (and its associated sites). That way you ensure that people who are seriously looking for legal counsel have the chance to find you.
Additionally, when it comes to the foundational phase of law firm branding strategy, we highly recommend that lawyers and law firms establish themselves on sites like:
- And other review sites
Not only do these kinds of sites garner a lot of traffic, but there’s a good chance a basic profile has already been automatically generated for you there. That means that the information there is likely sparse or inaccurate, and people seeking legal counsel are not seeing a very polished version of you. That’s why it’s up to you to manage and monitor how you look on these kinds of sites.
Once you’ve established a strong foundation with this lawyer branding strategy, it’s time to move on to Pillar 2.
Pillar 2: Build credibility & an audience
Whether you are building this professional brand as an individual attorney or as part of a law firm, online branding can reinforce your credibility and cultivate a broader audience (which ultimately leads to more clients).
Great ways to strengthen your credibility online include:
- Writing strategic content on the platforms and in the communities where interested parties will find it.
- Getting third-party placement through pitching and syndication on trusted sites that speak directly to your desired audience.
- Use data to your advantage by tracking how your content performs on different platforms and reverse engineering the most successful cases
- Use social media management tools to stay organized and help you publish high-quality original content consistently.
Tips for building the right audience:
- Identify the gatekeepers of the audience and opportunities you want to reach.
- Start building out your audience with people in your own network who are likely interested in what you’ll publish and would likely share your content with relevant communities.
- Connect with gatekeepers & influencers via social media & strategic publications to better understand how they execute their own branding strategies, and engage with their audience.
Do your homework on attorneys and lawyers who are well-known or considered thought-leaders in your field. While you don’t need to copy their branding strategies, this is a great way to get inspiration for tactics that might work for you. They may also give you some ideas or even a direct in on connecting with your target audience to increase your client pool.
Pillar 3: Target opportunities
Landing new clients and enhancing the experience of existing clients probably top your list of objectives with brand building. And once you start to see the fruits of your labor from phases 1 and 2, it’s time to leverage that work to target more professional opportunities that encourage client growth and retention. As you become more visible online, accept and cultivate offers for opportunities like:
- Speaking gigs with reputable programs or institutions
- Blog exchanges with reputable content creators in your field
- Interviews with trusted news outlets, academic institutions or content creators
- Mentorships from respected leaders in your field, or the opportunity to mentor others starting out in your field
While there’s a real chance that these sorts of opportunities will just come to you, and you’ll have to weed through a bunch of offers, that’s not always how it works. Typically you’ll need to use some advanced audience building techniques to find and shape these opportunities with members of your network and audience.
Strategically work with your audience through:
- Outreach & Networking – Make sure that people know your value and what it is that you’re looking for. Be specific in what you ask for and who you’re trying to meet.
- Ongoing content creation and engagement – Stay active on social media and on your website to ensure continued growth and maintenance of your audience. Remember to engage with prominent people and news sources in your industry in addition to interacting with your growing audience. Demonstrate that you are active in the conversations in your industry to prove your credibility and ultimately encourage more potential for new opportunities.
- Link building – Seek out targeted link building opportunities to improve the visibility and credibility of your online brand and ultimately find more opportunities. Link building is a search engine optimization tactic where you try to earn links to your website or social media profile from a high-quality site.
- Advanced keyword strategy – This is another SEO tactic to make sure that people looking for you and your content find it when they search online. Use free tools like Google Adwords and Keyword Planner to create a list of words related to your personal brand and industry. Create high-quality content that ranks well for these searches to ensure continued growth with your desired audience.
What does the ideal personal brand for lawyers look like?
Counsel to the New York City Bar Association – Neysa Alsina
Below, you’ll see page one of Neysa Alsina’s Google search results which includes a combination of personal social media profiles, positive third-party news articles and her biographical information on the New York City Bar Association’s website.
All of this serves to create a credible, informative and compelling personal brand.
Founder at The Law Office of Biana Borukhovich, PLLC – Biana Borukhovich
If you google Biana Borukhovich, the Chair of the Brooklyn Trademark, Licensing and Intellectual Property Committee, you’ll find an exemplary set of search results.
Borukhovich’s first page of search results includes information about her law office, professional profiles and, 5-star reviews. Her search results are informative, professional, relevant and engaging.
How BrandYourself can help
As an attorney, lawyer or law firm, there are a number of choices when it comes to building an online brand. However, there’s no point in dedicating time and resources to this without a plan that focuses on long-term success – since the number of people looking you up online continues to grow.
At BrandYourself, we’ve spent years refining our software and Managed Services to make online branding accessible to everyone. Check out what we offer below:
At BrandYourself, it’s our mission to empower lawyers and attorneys with the information they need to take control of their online presence and reach their branding goals. BrandYourself’s DIY reputation management software features include:
Your Reputation Report- A comprehensive report that identifies all the risk factors in search results & on social media that are putting your career at risk as well as the positive factors that are contributing to your personal brand. Your Reputation Report features your Reputation Score (like a credit score, but for your online presence), identifies who is googling, how your results compare to those of other users, and how much money you or earning or losing based on your current online presence.
Google Results- BrandYourself’s algorithms pull your top Google search results and show their potential impact on your overall online presence. Here You can mark them as positive, negative or not you to ensure accuracy.
Reputation Builder- BrandYourself’s Reputation Builder features a custom Action Plan which shows you next steps to improve your personal brand and informative guides. The software also shares damaging Google search results, and harmful social posts & images from your social media accounts that you can review and delete right in the dashboard.
Properties- Here you can submit links to existing profiles and websites that you control, as well as build or optimize each profile with in-depth step-by-step guidance from the software.
BrandYourself offers world-class branding services for individual attorneys, lawyers and law firms.
BrandYourself’s Managed Services include:
Individual Lawyer and Attorney Branding Services
Once you’ve discussed your objectives and decided on the best package with a Reputation Advisor, our in-house team of experts will conduct a personal branding session with you. From there we develop a customized strategy to build or optimize the best site and profiles for you. During your campaign we follow the three pillars listed earlier to ensure that you reach new clients, maintain existing clients, develop new professional opportunities, and meet your goals with lawyer branding.
Executive Branding Services
BrandYourself offers Executive Branding Services for law firms wherein our in-house experts manage the individual online brands of partners, lead attorneys and other key personnel. If you’re looking to maintain a successful online presence for your firm, the attorneys that work there need to be credible, findable and active online. By actively managing the individual reputations of these attorneys online, we strengthen the overall brand of the firm itself. Our team of brand strategists and content creators also has extensive experience managing the online presence of the actual law firms.
Negative Suppression Services
Whether you’re dealing with a negative search result as an individual lawyer or as a law firm, you need damage control to avoid ruining your prospects and existing client relationships. We recommend BrandYourself’s Managed Services department where our in-house team of experts creates a customized strategy for this. When it comes to lawyers dealing with negative search results, the damaging results are often directly related to your area of expertise.
Because of that, you need the experience of our branding professionals to come up with a custom strategy that highlights your assets without calling attention to the damaging result. Our experts will help you walk this delicate balance and ultimately create high-quality content that people engage with to restore your reputation.
For a complete listing of our offerings and customizable options, contact us by phone at 646.863.8226 or schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your options with a Reputation Advisor today.