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This presentation, as part of the MSBA’s continuing legal summit programming, explored the basics of creating a personal brand in the legal profession and a lawyer’s ability to create professional flexibility through online marketing. The experience of having an online practice after creating her own personal brand was shared by Nakia Gray, Esquire, attorney and founder of Beyond the Bar Institute. The program focused on teaching lawyers how to effectively create an online practice and creating an online personal brand using a commonsense approach. The insights gained from creating her own online legal practice and personal brand were explored along with the challenges of rethinking lawyers’ preconceived notion that marketing should not be done by lawyers. Nakia’s approach to personal branding for lawyers is both inspiring and intelligent.

After experiencing a hectic lifestyle trying to get her kids to their sports events while simultaneously practicing law, Nakia realized she needed more professional flexibility. Nakia blazed a digital legal path by starting an online legal practice and developing the Beyond the Bar Institute, creating a more lucrative practice and her desired professional flexibility. For the past seven years, Nakia has spent a lot of time teaching other lawyers how to create an online presence, how to deliver legal services online and use technology to gain new clients and improve your legal practice.

When the COVID pandemic started along with the necessary shutdowns, many lawyers were struggling and confused about how they were going to continue practicing law in a COVID world. COVID has changed how many lawyers practice law, and whether lawyers like the new COVID world or not it is here to stay.

Nakia shared her professional expertise as well as instructions on how to create a personal legal brand. Nakia’s view is that the most important aspect of this new COVID world is to “THINK LIKE A BRAND. NOT LIKE A LAWYER.” Easier said than done, but Nakia confidently advises that the first thing you have to do is to unlearn everything you have been taught about marketing including learning that advertising is a vital component of practicing law.

Clients hire lawyers that they like and trust. Clients can’t begin to know, like, and trust you if they don’t know who you are because you have no brand or online presence. In today’s world, potential clients are online purchasing food, clothes, movies and now legal services. Potential clients will continue to Google a lawyer’s name to learn everything about you before making a decision to hire you. No one hires a new employee without first checking their online presence and potential clients are no different.

Another important aspect in attracting new clients is receiving referrals from other lawyers. Attorneys refer lawyers they know-like-trust. Lawyers are happy to refer potential clients to attorney’s they know-like-trust so it is also important to have a personal brand to improve your chances of referrals.

A key component of establishing your personal brand is asking yourself, “How can I stand out?” Nakia indicates that “finding your secret sauce is what sets you apart.” Then amplify your secret sauce and seek opportunities to be different so that your legal practice stands out.

Nakia advises to follow five key components when creating a personal legal brand:

  • identify your niche,
  • tweak your website,
  • tell your story,
  • show up online as the expert, and
  • choose one social media platform and dominate it.

Identifying your niche is important to help you stand out from the crowd. Owning a specialty also generates premium rates for your expertise. Omitting legal jargon from your website is also helpful as well as refraining from using cookie-cutter templates.

These are just a few of the ideas that Nakia shared during the presentation. Creating a personal brand and marketing to potential clients and other lawyers are not only desirable, but a necessary component to practicing law in a COVID world. To learn more about how to build your personal legal brand, you may watch the excellent video complete with Nakia’s specific instructions here: