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A Conference of the Virginia State Bar.

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Building Your Personal Brand: Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

By Victoria Walker

 

As a young lawyer in the early stages of your career, it is easy to forget that you, and you alone, are ultimately responsible for the development of your personal brand. To get you started, here are some things to consider.

 

What is a Personal Brand?

 

There are many definitions and explanations for what a personal brand is. However, it is best (and most succinctly) summed up as one’s unique promise of value.  Your personal brand usually conveys information about your passion, talent, values, purpose or distinction. This quality is that thing about you that comes to mind when your colleagues or clients think about you. It is what you intend to convey to people you meet in networking or other professional settings. It is what others perceive is the essence of who you are as a professional. If every lawyer had a logo, it would be your logo along with the thoughts and feelings that surface when your colleagues and clients look at it.  

 

A good personal brand is important because it gives you a competitive edge in a very competitive profession. Your brand can convey legitimacy and inspire confidence in you in a particular area before people ever meet you. A strong personal brand is also an important building block in crafting the reputation you want for yourself. If you want to be known as an expert or thought leader in a particular area of law, on a particular topic, or in a particular skill, you can begin working towards that now with your personal brand.

 

Building Your Brand

 

Building a personal brand involves a lot of self-promotion and marketing. And marketing is all about repetition, consistency and reinforcement. Because of this, the process of building and maintaining a brand is one that is constantly in motion. The first thing you must do is take some time to identify what it is that you want to be known for—a passion, a talent or skill, an articulable set of values, a purpose, or a distinct area of law. Next, you should assess where you are now and whether your current professional and personal activities align with that thing. If they do, then you can begin to build.

 

Networking is a critical tool in building your personal brand. Whether you are networking online or in real life, each interaction is an opportunity to convey your unique promise of value. This is also a great way to establish relationships with people who can help you in the development and promotion of your brand. You never know who holds the key to your next big opportunity so you should develop a system for maintaining and cultivating professional relationships.

 

You should also take advantage of all that social and digital media have to offer. Make yourself visible in the context of the thing you wish to be known for.  Insurance, environmental law, fintech, cross-examinations, motions practice—whatever you wish you to be associated with. Write on it. Tweet on it. Blog about it. Engage with current thought leaders or practitioners in a public forum (e.g., LinkedIn) on that thing. Contribute to the YLC’s Docket Call.

 

Make sure that you are maximizing your exposure off the Internet as well. Seek out opportunities from your alma mater to engage with alumni, students, and professors in your area of interest. Create opportunities for yourself by getting involved with bar associations and volunteering to organize a CLE or webinar. Present relevant opportunities to your employer and bridge the gap between your personal development and the benefits that will accrue to the firm. Identify community organizations or trade associations that would benefit from your passion, talent, or purpose and engage with those members. Be present and purposeful at networking events and look for openings to discuss your thing. Highlight your successes (even the small ones) both in your workplace and within your digital presence.

 

Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

 

Victoria Walker is an associate counsel with the VA Board of Appeals in Washington, DC. She was formerly the owner and principal attorney of the Law Offices of Victoria Walker, where she counseled business and nonprofit organizations on the legal hurdles related to starting and running their organizations. She can be reached at victoria@vwalkerlaw.com.