Self-assessment: first steps in identifying your attorney brand

J. Nick Augustine J.D. is the principal of ALR/PRA, Inc., a full service law practice management agency.  Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition in public relations and marketing.  Nick also shares recruiting and staffing experience and tips for legal job seekers.

Self-assessment is a tool you can use to develop your brand and market your credentials, experience and skills sets.  Many attorneys pause and think when asked to describe their professional services brand.  Attorney branding is the process by which your personal and professional attributes are received and recalled by others.  Have you ever heard someone ask for an attorney referral by describing the desired characteristics of the perfect match to the client’s needs?

Self-assessment begins with the honest examination of your past professional, academic and personal achievements and struggles.  Sometimes we experience tunnel vision in law and forget about our most obvious strengths and weaknesses.  Our strengths can often be inferred from compliments.  At times, we receive compliments and brush them off, trying to maintain a sense of humility.  It is a challenge to accept and learn from compliments.  Accepting and thanking others for their comments we moves us closer to learning how to objectively assess how we are received by others.

Continue your assessment by making a list of activities you least enjoy.  This exercise may help you avoid certain practice areas where you know you will be unhappy.  It isn’t news that we perform best when we enjoy our work.  Next, try reading your resume out loud to yourself, imagining that you are talking about your education and experience in an interview setting.  In your mirror, or pretend audience, describe a few times you have taken pride in some accomplishments.  Write down those accomplishments and focus on why you think you were successful.  As you highlight credentials and experiences on your resume you have the opportunity to market your attorney brand.

Social networking sites contain plenty of assessment clues.  If you are on LinkedIn, take a look at your recommendations and note a few of the qualities others have noticed and considered when supporting you by making the recommendation.  Similarly, take a look at the type of compliments you receive using other social media, what do people “like” about you?  Consider this when you review your friends and contacts’ impressions of you and why they would recommend you as an attorney.

You can also take self-assessment to the next step and engage with a business coach with assessment software.  One of my clients is a business coach and I took her assessment as part of a leadership management course.  As I reviewed the assessment results, I experienced a feeling of reinforcement that my work habits complimented my skills and habits.

The process of personal and professional self-discovery is ongoing.  At many stages in our careers we have the opportunity to reflect on the past.  By revisiting the past we can gauge our progress as we move forward in our career transitions.  Self-assessment is a tool to uncovering your potential and most salient skills necessary to landing the next client or job.

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