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  • Writer's pictureFrederick L Shelton

A 2 Minute Guide to Branding for Attorneys

The most successful lawyers have developed a personal brand. Theses lawyers (and other high-end professionals) identify, build and maintain a personal brand. But what is a Personal Brand? A Personal Brand has 4 components:

1. Who are you?

2. Who are you NOT?

3. Who are you here for?

4. And thanks to Millennials and Post-Millennials: Who do you give to?

1. Who are you? This is the most basic component of brand and yet, few attorneys spend serious time making sure the answer to this question is answered clearly. What is your practice area? Are you among the most prestigious and well-recognized attorneys in that practice area? Has the media recognized you for your expertise? Have other attorneys and clients lauded your skills? That's 80 - 90% of the answer to this question. The remaining 10 - 20% is often overlooked and equally important. Are you a mother? A dog owner? A Golfer? What makes you likeable as a person?

2. Who are you NOT? This is also important because as in all professions, there are a lot of bad and unethical lawyers out there. So you need to make clear you're not the typical sleazeball personal injury or divorce attorney. You're not the client gouging business attorney who somehow manages to clock 3,000 billable hours per year. Part of your brand is separating yourself from those whom the market views with disdain.

3. Who are you here for? In the series "MadMen" John Hamm's character asks the question "Who is your ideal client?". This question must be answered before you begin marketing or you don't know who you're marketing targets are. Is the answer "Anyone who will pay me?" If so, you might want to rethink your market position. If it's more like "Startup companies in the tech and crypto space" then you're on the right track and know exactly who you're marketing to.

4. Who do you give to? This one has become important, thanks to Millennials and Post-Millennials. They will walk right past Starbucks A and spend more at Starbucks B, if Starbucks B advertises that they donate a portion of their revenues to stop Climate Change, Feed the Homeless etc. If you watch Subaru commercials, they barely even show the cars. They just inform the consumer that for every car bought, trees will be planted. identify a (non-religious, non-political) charity and commit to donating a percentage of your revenues to it. Let them know you are doing so and make clear on your website, bio etc. why you feel this is a worthy cause, that you're committing to it, and invite others to do so. Also, it's just a good thing to do!

Before you begin marketing, you need to identify what you're marketing. Your product is your personal brand.

Frederick Shelton is the CEO of Shelton & Steele, a national recruiting and rainmaking consulting firm. He can be reached at


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