Today no one is exempt from personal branding—doctors, bankers, financial planners—and certainly lawyers all have to play in today’s digital world.
Given the expectations and guidelines around the profession, there are certain protocols that have to be followed.
It’s not just confidentiality, though that’s the first thing that comes to mind. Lawyers are expected to be consummate professionals, so photos and posts should always support that image. Leave the photos of your dog and your best friend’s bachelor party for your private account. Stick to information that’s of use to your potential clients (with appropriate disclaimers, of course), and help them get to know you, your background, and your specialty.
One of the lawyers I’ve seen in terms of personal branding who has particularly taken to using social media to grow his brand is Haitham Amin, a criminal defense lawyer based in San Francisco and principle of Amin Law. I spoke with him recently to get his take on how lawyers should approach their marketing and branding.
Q: Why is personal branding important for lawyers in particular?
A: The current ad space—e.g. billboard, Google PPC, Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc. is very crowded, expensive and outdated. It leaves the new up-and-coming lawyers fighting for crumbs.
Moreover, the average person spends approximately two hours a day on social media. So you can catch a lot of people’s attention by pushing your personal brand online via social media, e.g. Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc. for free. Literally.
You just have to put out quality content, grow your followers, and engage with them. Reputation takes years to build. If you’re just starting out as a new attorney or a new professional, it’ll take you years before you can bring in business.
Q: How should a lawyer in a small town approach personal branding as opposed to someone who works in a big city, like you do?
A: Small towns or rural areas are actually great for lawyers. Usually competition is nonexistent. If the internet or social media is not something that people use in your town, you will do just fine with a good old billboard, Yellow Pages, local newspaper, or direct mailing.
For the latter option, if you’re a criminal defense attorney for example, you can get a list of people arrested daily from your local Sheriff’s office and send the accused people a direct mailing advertising your criminal defense services.
Q: What would you say to someone who tells you, “I don’t need to work on my personal brand”?
A: Sadly, a lot of professionals do not see the importance of branding. For people that are non-believers, I reply with “your business will die a slow death.” The current ad space is not getting any better—just more expensive. If you can’t learn to pivot and find creative ways to push your brand and promote it, you’re going to drown with the noise.
Q: What are a few of the most effective things you’ve done to develop your personal brand as a lawyer?
A: The most effective thing I did for my business was focus and develop my social media platform.
For example, I grew my Instagram page to almost 200K followers, I try to post daily, and I engage with my followers via direct message when they comment or ask questions. The whole point of social media is to be social. Do not ignore comments, questions, or messages. The alternative is that you pay an average of $10K a month to Google PPC or a billboard company and hope for business to come.