Personal Branding for Leading-Edge Lawyers

by Joncara Marshall

In today’s society, lawyers need to be seen and heard to attract business. You may have the credentials and the education, but you will also need a personal brand to stand out from the other million licensed lawyers. From the Esquire Coaching Broadcast, “3 Essential Elements of Personal Branding for Leading-edge Lawyers,” Nicole K. Lundy, founder of Profitable Personal Brand, co-author of forthcoming book The Happy Law Practice, speaker, and an Esquire Coach, gives advice on how lawyers can create a personal brand that will attract clients.

But first, let’s define what a personal brand is. According to Nicole, it is your exclusive guarantee of market value- what you do and how you do it in your own special way. A personal brand is essential in your career because it shows potential clients who you are and what makes you different from all the others. As a result, she says that you will meet clients who you will love.

There are 3 essential elements that you need to create a personal brand:

1. Alignment: to clearly show who you are and what you do. Nicole says this is your marketability and helps people trust you. Unfortunately, she says that lawyers are at a disadvantage because there is preconceived notion that lawyers cannot be trusted. You can change this by creating a game plan for how you will present yourself. Ask yourself: What is my value proposition, or what do I stand for? What makes me different? What makes me compelling as an attorney?

2. Influence: to present to others that you are an authority in your field. To do this, Nicole says that you must be relatable to your clients. You want people to listen to you and being down to earth can help attract people. Again, you must show that you are trustworthy as well as true to who you are.

3. Visibility: creating a plan that will get you noticed by clients. Social media can help you show your personal brand to potential clients. Nicole says the best way to do this to sign up on social media sites where your clients or potential clients are most likely to be. Lawyers can be strapped for time and see social media as way to relax. But, Nicole says that sharing your information and point of view will show people who you really are.

Nicole says that you should create a brand story and a “fame name” for your personal brand. A brand story, she says, is the heart and soul of your legal career; it emotionally connects you to current and future clients as well as your peers. Your brand story is a way to tell people how you came into your career. A fame name is your personal headline that describes who you are and what you do in a short and concise way. For example, Nicole says that a real estate lawyer’s fame name could be “First Time Homebuyer Lawyer.” It shows potential clients that you are not just any lawyer, but have a specialty that appeals to a particular market. She says that you can use a fame name in you introduction, on your social media site, and on your business cards.

If you would like to hear more tips about how to build a personal brand as well as listen to past broadcasts, click here. You can also listen to live broadcasts on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m-6:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Did you find the information helpful to you? Have you tried these tips before? Leave a comment. If you would like to see more articles about personal branding or other topics, email us at If you would like help to create a personal brand, you can visit Nicole’s site at


10 Hiring and Interviewing Tips to Move Diversity Forward

by Verna Myers, Esq.

1. Select for the whole person. Don’t over-rely on traditional criteria such as GPA and school rankings. Some individuals who are exceptional with regard to traditional criteria may be missing some other important attributes, and vice-versa.

To determine a more holistic set of criteria, analyze who is successful in your work environment. What are the qualities they possess? What kind of people do you want to define your organization and help achieve the organization’s vision and goals? What are the competencies, skills and qualifications actually needed for the position? Make sure that among those competencies is the willingness to work collaboratively and respectfully with people from diverse backgrounds.

2. Design a hiring process that allows for diverse input. Assemble a diverse group of people (with regard to gender, race, ethnicity, age, job status, role, tenure, geography, etc.) to give input regarding what the attributes of an ideal candidate should be and to help evaluate candidates.

3. Don’t “over-hire.” Diversity and excellence go hand and hand. Be clear about and hold to your standards of excellence. Don’t hire women, people of color, LGBT persons or others from historically excluded and underrepresented groups (“one-down groups,” a term used to refer to certain groups who have been treated as inferior or less than historically in the U.S. system and have experienced less privilege and power as a result) who do not satisfy the holistic set of qualifications solely because you want to increase diversity in your organization. To do so is to set up the individual you hire to fail and to contribute to the assumptions by some that the organization has lowered its standards for candidates from one-down groups.

If there is a person who doesn’t meet all the criteria but shows great potential, only hire them if you are willing to inform them of, and shore up, the areas where they are deficient.

4. Don’t “under-hire.” Don’t bypass talented candidates from one-down groups who meet your holistic criteria because of expressed or silent concerns about whether they can perform according to your standards. Some one-down group members are perceived as risks so, unintentionally, evaluators require additional proof that these individuals are capable despite the indication they have provided of their accomplishments.

Don’t let decision-makers default to making an assessment based on traditional criteria rather than looking at what the candidate brings as a whole. Each person should be judged as an individual, not on their group’s record of success in the organization.

If someone meets the established grade cut-off or has the level of education needed for the job, don’t raise the bar and ask that they demonstrate greater achievements than other candidates from more traditional backgrounds. And don’t yield to tokenism, where the organization is satisfied with and resigned to hiring only one or two exceptional candidates from a one down group.

5. Engage in interviewing training. Getting the “right people onto the bus” – employing talented individuals who are aligned with the organization’s mission –is among the most imperative tasks of any successful organization. Everyone who interviews should participate in interview training that includes an emphasis on hiring candidates who are from one down groups. Translate agreed-upon criteria into questions that can be asked of candidates in the interview. Inform everyone involved in the hiring process of these criteria and questions.

6. Focus on job-related criteria in the interview. Don’t get personal in the interview conversation, especially when interviewing candidates from one-down groups. They often experience these types of questions and find them extremely off-putting. You can have an individualized, pleasant conversation, without asking personal, invasive questions based on your curiosity or assumptions. There are some questions you only have a right to ask after the person is hired and you have made the effort to establish a mutually respectful relationship.

7. Don’t trust your gut! I know many of us think we know instinctively who would be“a good fit” for our organizations. But all of us have to watch out for our unconscious biases; those for and against individuals and groups.

Neuroscience tells us that our minds are good at quick judgments but are not perfect. Our guts can be contaminated with stereotypes and biases. Bias can cause us to offend, exclude or mis-hire.

Notice not only when a feeling of discomfort arises in an interaction with a candidate, but also when one of unwarranted ease occurs – these are clues that you may be leaning on your gut. You want everyone who interviews with your organization to leave the interaction believing they had a fair and respectful exchange.

Even if you don’t want to hire the candidate, he or she may have a friend who you would love to hire. Word of mouth, positive or negative, can have a major impact on your recruiting efforts on school campuses and within your industry.

8. Don’t seek to replicate yourself. Even though all of us suffer from in-group favoritism– we like and favor those in our own group – diversity demands we expand our understanding of who is valuable. Dig a little more deeply into the candidate’s experiences, especially if they are different than yours. If you don’t know about entries on a resume (associations, articles, group memberships, neighborhoods, countries, etc.), because they are unfamiliar to you don’t ignore them; inquire about them.

These questions may lead to some of the most valuable insights about what makes an interviewee unique, and whether he or she is right for the position.

9. Don’t make assumptions about the interviewee. Assumptions such as where and how someone grew up, what they experienced, likes and dislikes, are usually stereotypes about groups. If you lead with questions that are rooted in stereotypes, you may offend the candidate and lose the opportunity to bring a talented person into your organization. Take your cue from interviewees. If they bring up concerns about gender issues or speak about their humble background, this is a signal that you could engage a conversation around these subjects. But even then, be careful to seek information rather than assuming.

10. Share your diversity commitment with all candidates. Make sure you share information about your diversity commitment and policies with every candidate, not only those from one-down groups. You can’t tell what candidates are interested in, have a sensitivity to, or with which they have an affinity. After all, your diversity program is about making the entire organization better, so everyone should hear about and plan to be a part of moving these values forward.

If during an interview, however, the candidate identifies in some way their interests in a diversity-related subject, you can speak about the subject and perhaps also make it possible for them to speak to someone else in your organization who shares a similar identity or life experience. It is great to offer a promising candidate the opportunity to meet such a person. It can make a difference in their decision about what employer they will choose.

Make sure you follow up quickly with talented candidates from one down groups and demonstrate your sincere interest so they know you care about them; there may be many other institutions pursuing them.

See more about these tips and others in Verna’s new book, What If I Say the Wrong Thing? 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People. Order here. For more information about VMCG’s services contact us at 443-438-7060 or, and at her website.

How to use Social Media to Generate New Leads for Your Legal Practice

Social Media is being hailed as the must use business strategy of the future. Many law firms are starting to experiment with social media but are having trouble understanding how to use it to deliver real business results. What most firms lack is a good understanding of what social media for business is all about and how to put together a strategy that delivers results.

Join Guy Alvarez, Chief Engagement Officer of Good2bSocial, for this discussion that will help you understand the basics of social media for business and how to use social media to generate new leads.  Good2bSocial is a consulting company that helps firms and professionals in the knowledge industries understand how to use social media to delight their customers, engage with their prospects, and enable their employees to become more productive and innovative.

Guy Alvarez, Chief Engagement Officer of Good2bSocial

Guy Alvarez, Chief Engagement Officer of Good2bSocial

What you will learn:

  • What is Social Media for business and how is it different?
  • The importance of Content and how to make it useful
  • Optimizing your website/blog for social media engagement
  • The big 4 public social networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Google+
  • Visual content- the next frontier
  • How do I generate new leads from social media?
  • Who should be responsible for social media in my firm?
  • What do I need to get started?

Join us LIVE tonight at 5:30 pm EST/2:30 pm PST by clicking here.

Stop Saying Yes When You Mean NO!

By Ann Jenrette-Thomas, Esq.

Have you ever gotten caught in a cycle of doing things . . . then, ultimately resenting it? When you find yourself constantly doing things and at some point resenting having done it, it’s a signal to you of two important things: (1) it’s time to change your inner beliefs that compel you to take action that dishonors your true desires; and (2) it’s time to reclaim your personal power.

When you say “Yes” to something you don’t really want to do (hence, the subsequent resentment), your response is driven by an underlying belief that compels you to take the action in the first place.  For example, one of my clients had a hard time saying “No” to her clients’ requests to offer discounted prices.  She would agree to the discount, then feel devalued and undermined. Other examples include, saying “Yes” because you want to be nice, you want to be liked, you feel somehow obligated (e.g., to your boss, spouse, kids, or parents), or because it’s something important to you and no one else will step up.

The key to tackling the underlying belief that keeps you stuck is to get really honest with yourself.  Ask yourself, “What motivates me to keep saying “Yes” when I really don’t want to?”  Don’t judge or discredit anything that comes up.  Just simply observe it.  When you feel like no more answers are coming up, ask yourself, “What need am I trying to fulfill?”  

Once you’ve identified what motivates you to take resentment-inducing action, it’s time to reclaim your personal power.  The resentment is a signal that you are engaging in an action that dishonors you or your values.  The good news is that you can stop the cycle and begin a new journey that honors you.  In order to reclaim your personal power, identify ways YOU can meet your underlying need.  For example, if you keep saying “Yes” to friends or family because you want to be liked, then your underlying need may be a desire to feel appreciated.  Discover ways you can show yourself appreciation.  Perhaps it’s learning to say “No,” giving yourself permission to take a break, or pursuing something you’re passionate about.

After identifying other ways to meet your needs, make a two-way commitment.  The first commitment is to start saying “No” when you don’t want to do something.  It’s perfectly fine to take baby steps here.  The key is to work your way toward honoring your true desires consistently.

The second commitment you must make is to take action that fulfills your underlying needs.  This is crucial because if you don’t, the void will make it more likely for you to go back into old patterns.  Again, baby steps are fine.  Just commit.

The more you understand your underlying beliefs and needs and commit to fulfilling them in a way that honors you, the happier you will be.  Here’s to a life without resentment! 

Do you end up saying “Yes” when you really want to say “No”?  What would you tell others who are in the same position?  Share your thoughts below.

Associates: Don’t Stay Trapped Behind Your Desk!

By Brittany Amendt

When first starting out as a lawyer, the path to becoming a partner in a law firm can seem scary and at times overwhelming. This path has changed in recent years making the road to partner even more frightening. Instead of the traditional method of rewarding those with the most dedication and longevity, it seems today’s associates also need to be rainmakers.

As an associate, it is important to be your own best advocate. Rather than just focusing on doing your billable work, take the time to start building your network. Getting to know your colleagues helps to build relationships and form bonds. These can be important connections down the road and may serve as mentors.

It’s also important to get involved in activities outside the law firm. Start looking for opportunities to stand out as a leader.  See if you can start speaking at bar associations, trade associations, or places relevant to your area of law.  Take the time to take on leadership positions both within the firm and in the community.  Perhaps there is a charity that you can get involved with.  Also, make sure to include networking activities on a monthly basis.

Although trying to find time to engage in these activities may seem daunting, stay focused on your long-term goals. Whether you want to make partner, move to a different firm, or start your own business, your ability to succeed requires that you take time to consistently build your network. You don’t have to go overboard.  Simply make an effort to find 1-2 networking groups you can attend a month.  Then leverage those groups as the first place where you offer to speak.  The most important thing is to step away from your desk and realize your career will flourish only if you take the time to cultivate your reputation and your relationships for the future.

What tips do you have to build your reputation and reduce the path to partnership? Leave a comment below.

Anxious About Public Speaking?

by Ann Jenrette-Thomas, Esq.

Every lawyer suffers from anxiety at some point or another. Anxiety is just a normal part of life. It can actually be a useful emotion to the extent it helps us cope with stressful situations. Other times, anxiety can be out of control and interfere with our ability to function normally in stressful situations even if the stress is just manufactured in our minds.

One of the most common anxiety producing experiences is when it comes to public speaking.  This may include your initial oral arguments in court, conducting a presentation or pitch before a prospective client, or giving a speech at a local trade association.

Do you have a fear of speaking in public? If so, you may have performance anxiety.  Common performance anxiety symptoms include:

  • Worrying about looking foolish in front of other people and being laughed at.
  • Fretting that people can see how nervous you are.
  • Feeling immediate and intense fear upon learning you need to speak in public.

  • Attempting to get out of public speaking.

Performance anxiety is the result of fear-based thoughts. The fear comes from imagined dangers such as feeling like you are not smart enough or good enough to avoid ridicule. The way to overcome your performance anxiety is to change your way of thinking.

There are four steps involved in overcoming performance anxiety:

Step 1: Self Assessment

  • Take the time to understand your strengths and weaknesses as a speaker.
  • Identify the problem thoughts that hold you back and create anxiety.

Step 2: Exposure and Preparation

  • Find opportunities to speak in public on a limited basis where your anxiety won’t kick in (e.g, creating an informative webinar where you will not be visible; introducing a speaker at the CLE, etc.).
  • Practice your speech. Tape it and watch yourself. Practice until you have it down pat. Always be totally prepared before giving your speech so you feel confident.

  • Learn relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing, visualizing a calm place, etc.) and practice them right before your performance.

Step 3: The Speech

  • Visualize the audience as friends and family that wish you well and are supportive.
  • Don’t think of yourself. Think of the audience.

  • Try to stay calm and enjoy yourself.

Step 4: Immediately After the Speech

  • Don’t criticize yourself no matter what happens (you can do a thorough evaluation at a later time).
  • Congratulate yourself for doing your best.

  • Reward yourself for making progress

Follow these steps to help you overcome your public speaking anxiety.  Train yourself to change your thoughts and instead of worrying about what people will think, imagine they are thinking good things about you. As you change your thinking, you will see your performance anxiety start to slip away.

Have you overcome public speaking anxiety?  Help another lawyer out — share your tips on what you did in the comments below.

If you need help developing a commanding speaking presence, contact us at  We can help you finesse your speaking and presentation skills.

Yes, I Can!

by Ann Jenrette-Thomas, Esq.

Be careful what you believe because that is what you will experience. Your belief system is a mechanism which is uniquely yours. It is powered by your desire and controlled by your thoughts and actions. In other words, your success is measured by the strength of your beliefs.

What is it that you desire? Often people do not have a clue what it is they want, they just know what they do not want. Now is a good time to evaluate your goals and determine the end result you want to achieve. Put your goals in writing and place them where you can see them throughout the day. Read them frequently to keep them fresh on your mind.

  • Be inquisitive. Research and learn as much as you can on how you can achieve your goal. Use all possible resources such as books, CDs, courses and people (such as your trusted friends or a coach).  Talk to as many people as possible who are already successful in what you want to achieve. Ask, ask and ask some more about what they did to reach success. Do not limit your contacts to only the people you already know. Introduce yourself by phone or mail, explain your purpose for contacting them and ask for a tip. The worst thing that can happen is that they ignore you. The best thing that can happen is that they become your mentor and offer support and encouragement. Chances are you will receive at least one great tip from many of the people you contact. This method is the least expensive and most rewarding.
  • Be unique. Next, take the ideas you learn, embellish them and come up with your own creative process. Think of how you can approach your goal in a way that no one else has. Dare to be different. Don’t be afraid to take risks. What do you have to lose? Write out a list showing the worst things that could happen and then list all of the best possible outcomes. Always maintain your concentration on your desired result.
  • Be better than your competition. When you were a child and saw your older siblings or friends riding a bike (without training wheels), you didn’t look at their scraped knees and elbows and say, “Whoa, I could get hurt doing that.” Instead, you begged to try it for yourself. With a great deal of practice and often pain, you gradually learned how to maintain your balance. Before long you were trying to “out do” your friends with your speed or fancy tricks. When you fell, you would get back on and try again with even greater determination. From your very first effort, you believed in your mind that if you got back on, you would eventually learn to ride. Apply that same “beginner’s mind” to the goals you want to accomplish today.
  • Be positive. If you focus solely on the obstacles before you, then you will continuously have problems. If you have doubts whether your plan will work, then it will not work. If you are influenced by the power of negative people, then you will never be any better than they are. Believe in yourself and what you are capable of achieving.

When your desire to succeed is stronger than the pain, fear or frustration of failing, there is no turning back.

I challenge you to view your goals just like you did when you were a child before you learned about self-doubt and negative criticism. Remember, anything is possible as long as you believe it’s possible. Make a commitment that you will not let anything or anyone (including yourself) stand in your way of reaching your goals. Adopt a “Yes I Can!” attitude.

What’s your best tip to stay motivated toward reaching your goals?  Leave a comment below. Need support on achieving your goals? Email us at  We’re here to help you.