Stem Client Roundup for July 2014

American author Hal Borland once said, “Summer is a promissory note signed in June, its long days spent and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January.” A bit of a deflating thought! Here at Stem we’re all managing to take some time off to make the most of our short Canadian summer, and we hope all our clients are finding ways to balance their hard work throughout July with some R&R.  Here’s a look at what they’ve been up to over the last month:


We hope you do some fun and memorable things during the second half of the summer – come January, you’ll be glad you did!

This Is My Life: Stop Writing About Yourself In The Third Person

“He has a dream that one day, this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘They hold those truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'”

“He considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. And he might have been given a bad break, but he’s got an awful lot to live for.”

“They shall go on to the end; they shall fight in France; they shall fight on the seas and oceans; they shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air; they shall defend their island, whatever the cost may be … they shall never surrender.”

Something not quite right about the foregoing quotations, isn’t there?

Great speeches are great not just because of their soaring rhetoric, their stirring ideals, and their inspirational calls to action. As these badly re-engineered quotations demonstrate, they’re great because they’re delivered in the first person. The speaker puts himself directly into his speech, puts his vision and commitment and personal sacrifice right there on the line. I have a dream. I am the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. We shall never surrender.

When I (or we) communicate a fact or idea in the first person singular (or plural), my presence and responsibility and dedication are clear, and they resonate with readers and listeners. When people communicate a fact or idea in the third person, however, that responsibility is sidestepped, that dedication is compromised, and that presence is removed several steps away. (Notice how the passive voice automatically shows up in the third person?) And when you talk about yourself in the third person, you not only put a damaging amount of distance between you and who you say you are, you also suggest that you’re at best a little pompous and at worst a touch delusional.

And yet lawyers constantly talk about themselves in the third person in their own biographies, on their own web pages. It’s an affectation and a distraction. “Jane is a partner in the firm’s Litigation Department who specializes in class action defence. She is often retained by Fortune 500 companies. Her hobbies include hiking and travel.” Who is supposed to be speaking here? Is this a toast given at a wedding reception? Is the reader to assume this biography has been written by an admiring third party, without the lawyer’s input but with her graceful acquiescence?

When you describe your practice, skills and experiences in the third person, you might think you’re being appropriately modest or professionally circumspect. In reality, you’re putting unnecessary distance between yourself and your own best qualities. Law is a relationship business, and the best relationships are made directly, between two people who are open and honest with each other. Third-person biographies insert an imaginary third person into that relationship, complicating things and creating a sense of detachment or distance on the lawyer’s part.

Good lawyers don’t do this when they practice their craft. The most effective advocates don’t tell the court, “It is my client’s position that…” They say to the court, “We believe that…” It’s a subtle change, but a powerful one, communicating ownership and commitment and alignment with the client. There’s every reason to apply the same approach to our website biographies.

Consider these two bios:

  • “Gary is a partner with Parable & Metaphor LLP. He focuses his practice on business law, serving clients in the manufacturing and recycling sectors in areas such as environmental compliance and new product development. An avid golfer, he enjoys traveling and spending time with his family.”
  • “I’ve been a partner with Parable & Metaphor LLP for six years. I help clients in the manufacturing and recycling sectors with a wide range of business law matters. I make sure they comply with environmental regulations and help them develop new products for their markets. I love to play golf, ideally while travelling across the country with my wife and three kids.”

The information is pretty much the same in both, but the personal touch of the second one encourages the provision of more detail and invites a level of openness and engagement with the reader (and notice that saying “I” allows you to connect more easily and effectively with the work you do for the clients you serve.) By contrast, the first one reads like a cookie-cutter description of Any Lawyer Esq., or maybe a testimonial elicited under some level of duress. There’s a stiffness and distance about third-person biographies that’s unconsciously off-putting to the reader or listener, and it’s completely unnecessary.

Own the details of your life and career with pride and enthusiasm. Show your willingness to commit to a relationship with your biography’s reader. Stop pretending that some invisible authority has independently studied and described you, like an anthropologist drily detailing a new species. Stand up, speak out, and be yourself. Clients want to know who you are and whether they’ll like working with you. Tell them the first, so that they can start to decide the second.

15 New Additions to

The list just keeps on growing, and with these 15 new additions to, we’ve hit the 450 blog mark! Here’s a look at some of the blogs that have been added to the Canadian law blogs list since our last update in May.

If your site’s URL, feed, authorship, scope, etc., changes, we encourage you to let us know by using the “Update my blog’s listing information” option in the submission form at

Neat Numbers from the Canadian Legal Blogosphere

Every June, we review all the blogs listed at, fixing dead or outdated links and feeds and removing defunct blogs. It’s a big project but an interesting one. This year’s review left us with a final tally of 444 blogs (up from 415 last June) and I decided to take some statistics as I went through them. I hope you’ll find these facts about the Canadian legal blogosphere as fascinating as I did!

Keeping up to date

Our general rule is that blogs that haven’t posted anything new in the past year get removed from the directory. There are all sorts of reasons why bloggers take breaks now and then, but I was curious: on the whole, how current are blogs being kept? I found that:

  • 40% had been updated within the past week
  • another 31% had been updated within the past month
  • the remaining 29% had been updated more than a month ago

Staying power

I also wondered, what makes a blog last? I wanted to determine whether bloggers who have won Clawbies are more likely to have stuck with blogging – and it turns out, they are.

  • There were 16 Canadian blogs cited as winners or runners up in the inaugural Clawbies awards of 2006. Of those, 11 are still blogging fairly regularly – that’s 68.75%
  • Compare that to the 71 blogs listed on Steve’s law blogs list around the same time, and only 27 (38.5%) of them are still blogging

I’m not suggesting that winning a Clawbie inspired these folks to keep blogging — though it’s nice to think that the Clawbies could play some small role in encouraging bloggers to stick with it! Rather, I suspect that the kind of people who were dedicated enough to produce an outstanding blog back then are still just as passionate about the things they write about, and truly get something out of the process that makes them keep doing it. And I’d also bet that bloggers who’ve been at it this long just enjoy writing, period.

Pod(cast) people

While clearly, most legal bloggers feel most comfortable with the written word, there are two Canadian legal blogs that have taken up the mic and are steadily producing podcasts too:

  • Hull & Hull LLP has been producing their Hull on Estates podcast steadily since 2006, and now has an impressive 380+ episodes in their archives.
  • In less than a year, Ideablawg blogger Lisa Silver has produced 26 podcasts on the Criminal Code of Canada.

New kids on the block

We’re seeing a rise in blogging on niche topics.  Here are three categories that didn’t exist three years ago on

Ripe for the picking

Even with 444 blogs in our directory, there are some niche topics that haven’t been snapped up yet. Here are five topics with no dedicated Canadian blog coverage at present:

  • Education law
  • Election law
  • Animal law
  • Admiralty/marine law
  • Church/religion law

Each of these categories has significant coverage in the US – so what’s stopping Canadian law bloggers from delving into these topics?

Movin’ on up

We’ve also seen big jumps in several substantive law categories:

La belle langue

Over the past several years, we’ve also seen the number of French-language blogs grow. This time three years ago, there were only nine “blogues en français“; today there are 20.

Geographically speaking

Perhaps not surprisingly, the majority of Canadian law blogs are written by lawyers in Ontario, and most new blogs are from Ontario too. BC comes in second. This lines up pretty predictably with the number of lawyers in these two provinces.

Despite the hundreds of lawyers who practice up north, our country’s three territories have zero listings on Any would-be law bloggers from Nunavut, Northwest Territories or the Yukon out there? Here’s your chance to snag the first listing for your territory!

Stem Client Roundup for June 2014

It’s official: the year is half over! After a year away on mat leave, I’m happy to be back at Stem, and to share this roundup of June’s client news and activities with you.

That’s all for June; we’ll be back with more client highlights next month.

Stem Client Roundup for May 2014

The spring is just about over and summer is just around the corner!  May has been a busy month, particularly for our clients.  Let’s see what they have been up to:

That is all for this month!  We’ll be back next month with news and updates on our clients.

Traffic to law firm homepages dying? Not so far.

In one of his most recent posts, Lexblog’s Kevin O’Keefe made a brave prediction on the “death of law firm homepages”. Citing the recently reported traffic declines to the NYTimes homepage,  Kevin posits, “The death of homepages on law firm websites is likely to be much the same.”

The idea that social media might be directly impacting the traffic numbers to law firm homepages sounded intriguing to me. So I set out to do some comparable sleuthing.

I decided to sample four different law firm websites; reviewing Q1 traffic from 2012 to Q1 traffic in 2014. Specifically, I measured homepage ‘views’ as a percentage of each site’s total page views. Each of the four firms varied in their geographic location (2 in Canada, 2 in the USA; different sides of both countries.) They also differed in their services: two were community-based firms with multiple practice areas, one was a corporate boutique, and another was a solo litigation attorney.

Here’s what I found:

Firm 1:  12.9% (2012),  13.3% (2014)
Firm 2:  15.8% (2012),  18.67% (2014)
Firm 3:  25% (2012),  26.12% (2014)
Firm 4:  11.52% (2012),  9.68% (2014)

Now, this isn’t scientific by any means. But what it does show is that the traffic to firm homepages, as a percentage of total website traffic, has been relatively stable over the past two years.

So the question becomes… What’s fundamentally different about law firm websites compared to the NYTimes or The Atlantic in the above links? For me, it’s simple: these are business-based firm websites, not newspapers or magazines. Now, I would strongly suspect that law blogs and publishing initiatives are being impacted by social media sharing. Unless your firm’s blog has a massive brand, how your content resonates with its readers is what drives exposure. But law firm homepages? The numbers don’t support it.

In recent years, many firms have been moving content off of their firm’s website. Lawyer commentary gets routed out to firm owned blogs, industry publications, social media, and so forth. What’s left on the firm website, now, is a cleaner focus on the firm’s service offerings, lawyers, and expertise. Those pieces represent a very different marketing focus than what we need to accomplish through firm publishing.

It’s worth noting that each of the firm websites mentioned above have substantially more traffic today than they did two years ago. Hence why I used page view percentage as the comparable measure. They also have more traffic to their firm blogs and publishing. That’s important too, because each of those elements needs to work with the other in order to foster an image of professional credibility online.

The advent of social media has been an incredibly important step in how the web has evolved. But at least so far, ‘having a business online’ means ‘having a website’. Ignore explaining what you do, and what your business does, at your own peril.

Latest Additions to

What Law Firms Can Learn From The Wu-Tang Clan

Have you heard the new Wu-Tang Clan album, The Wu – Once Upon A Time in Shaolin? Unless you’re a millionaire, probably not. The Clan’s new album will not be sold in stores, nor will its singles be found on iTunes, nor will the album be streamed through any online service. The Clan is going to produce one, and only one, copy of this album. The album will go on a tour of museums, galleries and festivals before being sold to a single private buyer.

This is an utterly foreign concept in the music industry, but it’s also a brilliant one. The Clan is making it clear that they consider their new album to be not a collection of songs to be purchased for 99 cents each (or more likely, ripped and shared for free), but a work of art. You might think that’s a little pretentious, but I think it’s a truly radical way of envisioning and branding the band’s work. And I think there’s a lesson to be drawn by law firms from the Clan’s experiment, one that relates to lawyers’  publishing and content marketing efforts.

No, I’m not suggesting your lawyers take their blog posts on a tour of art galleries. But consider what’s happened to the music industry over the past decade or so, and think about parallels to our own market.

For most of the second half of the 20th century, there were two ways in which mainstream pop music performers made money: commercial sales of their music (on media that evolved from 45s, LPs, 8-tracks and cassettes to CDs, MP3s, and iTunes) and ticket sales from live performances. Then along came Napster and the file-sharing revolution, and the first category of revenue nosedived and has never really recovered. iTunes helped save albums and singles from complete collapse, but many people will tell you that 99 cents for a single, as affordable as it sounds, is still overpriced.

Accordingly, many performers resigned themselves to releasing albums as loss leaders, taking what little revenue they could muster and hoping the songs would encourage fans to attend concerts, buy T-shirts, and so forth. This is the classic example of “freemium” services that we were all talking about five years ago. But even live appearances aren’t immune from technological disruption: concertgoers commonly use their smartphones to record a performance and upload it to YouTube (Google your favourite artist and see what comes up under “Video.”) It’s not the same as being there live, but it’s a whole lot cheaper and more convenient. So you can see why the Wu-Tang Clan was motivated to try something different.

Now, think about law firms. As Steve Matthews and I wrote in Content Marketing and Publishing Strategies for Law Firms, lawyers produce two types of content: stuff they sell (products and services delivered to clients) and stuff they give away (newsletter articles, blog posts, CLE presentations, etc.). The first generates revenue directly; the second is meant to promote the lawyer’s profile and expertise in order to encourage paying work of the first kind. The second kind of content is not just given away, it’s scattered to the four winds, circulated as widely as possible (most recently through the fascinating new CanLII project, CanLII Connects).

What if a law firm took a page from the Clan and decided that, in addition to giving away most of this second kind of content, it would start preparing and packaging some of that content in an exclusive format? What if, every 12 months, a firm commissioned each partner in a practice or industry group to write one really insightful, incisive article pertaining to the practical application of the law to clients in that industry — and then instead of posting those articles online, the firm packaged them into a handsome, high-quality print-only handbook and made just 10 copies, to be provided, free, solely to the firm’s 10 top clients (current or desired), for a period of 30 days?

After that 30 days, the firm could choose among many options. It could accept bids from clients to keep their copies permanently, with the proceeds going to a charity of the client’s choice. It could destroy 9 copies of the handbook and make only the 10th available to the highest bidder, proceeds again going to charity. It could make the initial group smaller — say, 5 — and decline requests from other clients to receive a copy until one of the first 5 dropped out, thereby creating a permanent waiting list and ongoing demand for access to the materials. It could invite the clients to a “Meet The Authors” cocktail event, where the lawyers who contributed to the book would circulate, talk about what’s happening in the industry, answer questions, and otherwise display their expertise — the “live performance” of the recorded work.

All, some, or very few of these tactics or approaches might be the right fit for your firm or its clients, and that’s fine. The point is to make your firm rethink its attitude towards its content. As I’ve said repeatedly over the past several years, law firm marketing efforts frequently stumble because the firm does not really differentiate itself from its competition and because its published materials are usually boilerplate, rote summaries of new cases or basic procedures — nothing to set the firm apart. Considering that this content is usually dragged out of lawyers on deadline as a non-billable obligation, it’s no wonder the lawyers rarely try to make the content outstanding, and no wonder it falls flat. If the lawyers don’t value the product, why should clients?

I suggest you use the Wu-Tang Clan as inspiration to think differently about what you produce. The Clan was tired of its work being treated as a commodity: its members care deeply about what they produce, and they wanted to make a point that its fans and customers should care, too. If your lawyers were told they were writing a work of art, to be provided exclusively to the most prestigious buyers of legal services around, do you think they would up their game? And do you think clients, told they were being given exclusive temporary access to platinum-quality work, would look at that work with a greater respect, and at the firm that provided it in a new light?

Can it be all so simple? There’s only one way to find out.

Stem Client Roundup for April 2014

April has come and gone in the blink of an eye, and this month there’s no shortage of news to share.  Here’s a peek at what our clients have been up to over the last month:

That is all for this month but we’ll be back in a few weekds with more client accolades and accomplishments!

CanLII Connects Breaks New Ground

Canlii_connectsI’m pleased to announce the launch of a great new project we’ve been working on here at Stem. It’s called CanLII Connects and it opened to the public a few hours ago.

Simply put, CanLII Connects was developed to improve access to legal commentary on Canadian court decisions. Both as a jumping off point from decisions reported on, and as a searchable collection of authoritative sources on Canadian legal issues.

For me, there are two things about this site that will eventually make it a winner:

1) Authority Control — Anyone can access these materials, but not everyone can contribute. The focus is squarely on the legal community — upvoting, comments, and publishing of new materials — are all restricted. That doesn’t mean ‘lawyers only’, but it does mean prospective members must demonstrate their ability to create viable legal analysis. Closed communities, in my view, play an important role on today’s web; and the end product becomes far more valuable when quality controls are put in place early.

2) Publisher and Author Administration — Lawyers are mobile these days, and I don’t just mean in a technical sense. Over a ten year period, a lawyer can easily work for a number of firms, contribute to numerous publications, and work as faculty at an academic institution. With this type of website, there is a definite need to capture the varying relationships between authoring lawyers and the respective publications (a “one-to-many” relationship). Publishers in turn, need to be able to control who claims affiliation (and displays their logo). Though I suspect there will be some bugs to be worked out, CanLII Connects has created a pretty solid foundation for structuring the author and publisher ownership of content.

The initial group of founding contributors have seeded the site with close to 30,000 documents; and include a variety of sources: regional and national firms, academics, leading practitioners and research specialists, bloggers, commercial publishers and law societies.

For those interested in becoming involved, I would encourage you to visit the website and review the FAQ/help section for detailed instructions. CanLII Connects will also maintain a blog and a newly launched twitter account @CanLIIConnects.

I’m genuinely excited about the future for CanLII Connects. It has the potential to become an important tool for monitoring Canadian legal commentary.  Is it there today? No; and no one should expect perfection on “Day 1″. Quite frankly, the only way you create a community-driven website is to … get it into the community.

But what about in 3-years? 5 or 10-years? I believe we can expect a lot more. The CanLII name is gold here in Canada, especially for primary source research. The trend towards shorter, public-facing digital commentaries is certainly a growing aspect of secondary source research; and it’s possible with today’s launch (and the first-mover advantage) that CanLII will position themselves right in the middle of that trend. As I said, exciting times!

Both Jordan Furlong and I would like to offer our congratulations to CanLII, Colin Lachance, and Sarah Sutherland. Also, a kindly shout-out to the project’s designers Objective Subject and developers Functional Imperative, who were both excellent on the project.

Now, go take a look! And consider how you might get involved.

Stem Client Roundup for March 2014

The year seems to be flying by!  It is already the end of March and our clients, as usual, have been busy and productive this month.

Thank you for reading this month’s edition of the Stem Client Roundup.  We look forward to you joining us next month as well!

Breaking Down The Barriers To Blogging

I’ll choose “Things That I Know Are Good For Me But I Keep Putting Off Anyway” for $500, Alex. In a category that includes “Walking 20 Minutes A Day,” “Cutting Down On Aspartame,” and “Never Watching CNN Again,” many lawyers might also find “Writing A New Blog Post.” In law firms large and small, I often hear managing partners and marketing directors lament the difficulties involved in extracting a blog post from colleagues who always find a reason why they can’t meet their promised deadline.

In most such cases, we’re not talking about the recalcitrant partner who needs to have explained to him again what the internet is and why he should care. More often, the lawyer in question is a senior associate or mid-level partner who gets the idea and who really does want to contribute content to the firm’s blog — but when it comes to the crunch, sends you nothing but her regrets, along with (perfectly valid) reasons why she can’t get a post done this month. The spirit is willing, but the flesh has to meet its billable targets.

Leadership has been aptly defined as the art of removing barriers to accomplishment. Accordingly, here are some suggestions for lifting the barriers that block the path between your blog and the colleagues who are willing, but often seem unable, to help write it.

1. Priority Enhancement: You’ll never convince a lawyer to drop a pressing client matter or put off a senior partner’s request in order to write a blog post, nor should you try. But you can remove from the lawyer’s mind this idea that writing a blog post is “something nice to do if a spare moment opens up.” Spare moments never open up in law firms. The barrier here is the belief that blogging isn’t all that important: you need to help establish that it is important, that it’s a priority that deserves and requires the lawyer’s time and attention. The best way to do that is to embed blog contributions into the lawyer’s business development plan, and to make fulfilment of that plan a factor in the lawyer’s performance assessment.

2. Topic Warehouse: The first thing many lawyers do, when they finally sit down to blog, is to ask themselves “So …. what should I write about?” Fifteen minutes later, they’re still noodling around trying to decide among three or four ideas they’ve scribbled on a notepad, and the writing momentum is lost. The barrier here is a failure to prepare subjects in advance. Remove it by designating the lawyer’s first blogging session as nothing more than idea generation: spend the entire time hammering out 10 or 15 topic sentences for future posts (alone or with colleagues), then rank them in order of interest. Then, in the next scheduled session, grab the first topic sentence and start writing from there. Lay the groundwork first.

3. Interruption Defence: It always happens: the lawyer is three sentences into a blog post, and the phone rings, or an email notice pops up, or a colleague taps on the door to seek advice or just chat about something. The post is suspended, then eventually abandoned. The barrier here is the lawyer’s vulnerability to outside intervention. Remove it by helping the lawyer safeguard her time, attention, and privacy.  Block off 45 minutes in the lawyer’s calendar one month in advance. Shut off email  for that period and tell the assistant to leave the lawyer alone unless something is bleeding or on fire. Shut the door and hang a “Meeting in Progress” sign on the doorknob. Treat this time as if the lawyer was conferring with a key client.

4. Introduction Eradication: I’ve also seen this: Unsure of how she should begin her post, the lawyer indulges her innate perfectionism by writing and rewriting the first few sentences, never satisfied with the phrasing. The barrier here is the opening paragraph; so, remove it altogether. Tell the lawyer to skip the introduction, or pretend it’s already been written, and dive right into the nuts and bolts of the post. Encourage the lawyer to write her way to the end, and then to add a paragraph summarizing everything she’s just said. Take that closing paragraph, stick it at the start of the post, and tell the lawyer, “That’s your intro; lead with that.” Many closing paragraphs are really just introductions deferred. 

5. Keyboard Workaround: Finally, for some lawyers, the real struggle begins when they raise their fingers over the keyboard to start their blog post, then freeze up. The barrier here is the disconnect between the keyboard and the lawyer’s brain. The lawyer is used to hammering out motions and contracts with (legal)ease; but when it comes time to speak in the personal voice and with the individual perspective that blogging requires, they can’t make the transition. The barrier here can actually be the keyboard itself; so take it away. Install voice recognition software on the lawyer’s computer and encourage her to “talk out” her post, revising and editing it later. You’ll find the tone of her eventual post is more active, engaging, and personal, because she spoke it in her voice rather than pounding it into a keyboard.

It can be frustrating when you’re trying to sustain a blog and your colleagues seem to be failing you. But it’s better to recognize that they mean well and would like to help, but that they’re encountering understandable resistance. Reduce that resistance by lowering these barriers and removing the most common obstacles to blogging; you could be amazed at how much creativity and productivity you’ll help to unleash.

Stem Client Roundup for February 2014

February and winter are winding to a close and spring is right around the corner.  Last month, as our clients waited for winter to end, they were all busy with various activities.  These activities include:

That is all for this month!  We’ll be back at the end of next month with more client round-up!

Law Firm Brands In An Online Legal Market

Last month, I taught a new course called “21st-Century Lawyering” to upper-year students at Suffolk University Law School in Boston (where I hold the marvellous title of “Legal Innovation Strategist in Residence”). The course included a session on marketing a law practice, which in turn contained a section on branding and what it means in the legal context.

“Your brand,” I told the students, “is what you’re like to deal with.” This obviously includes your area of practice and expertise — why clients seek you out and what they get when they do. But it also includes your differentiating personal and professional factors (both good and bad) — what sets you apart, for better or worse, from the mass of lawyer competition. Everyone has a brand, whether or not they’re aware of it, created it, or would approve of it. “Branding” is the intentional act of making and keeping that promise of what it’s like to deal with you.

In the consumer context, “brand” still retains much of its popular meaning of “image,” a shorthand signal of what one should expect of a product or service. Brands used to be incredibly powerful and are still considered highly valuable (Apple’s brand is worth more than $100 billion, almost as much as the next two brands, Microsoft and Coca-Cola, combined). But as James Surowiecki writes in a recent New Yorker column, “Twilight of the Brands,” consumer brands also “have never been more fragile”:

“Consumers are supremely well-informed and far more likely to investigate the real value of products than to rely on logos. … When consumers had to rely on advertising or past experience with a company, brands served as a proxy for quality … Today, consumers can read reams of research about whatever they want to buy…. [The internet] has given ordinary consumers easy access to expert reviews, user reviews, and detailed product data. … Each product now has to prove itself on its own…. This has made customer loyalty pretty much a thing of the past. Only 25% of American respondents in a recent Ernst & Young survey said that brand loyalty affected how they shopped. For established brands, this is a nightmare.”

Legal services are not the same as soft drinks and software — yet. But the downward spiral of many legal services towards commoditization and the increasingly active and sophisticated purchasing strategies of legal clients both point us in the same direction as the consumer market. No amount of traditional advertising or marketing is going to reverse those trends.

That’s why I think an authentic public presence for your law firm, expressed principally through its online profile and activity, will continue to grow in importance. A website that states clearly and prominently what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for; blog posts written in your own voice with your own perspective; real testimonials from actual clients about working with you — these are now some of the most significant components of your law practice’s brand. Boilerplate practice descriptions and overblown advertising copy just won’t cut it (unless your practice really is boilerplate and overblown, in which case branding isn’t your biggest problem). There cannot be any daylight between your self-promotion and your real-life brand: the market will find that daylight and drive a truck through it.

If you’re running a law practice, then you already have a brand — whether you know what it is or not. That brand might be “commonplace, generalist, overpriced, hard to reach”; or it could be “distinctive, specialized, fixed-fee, responsive.” It doesn’t matter what you say you are; it matters what you actually are. You can’t manufacture a brand through advertising or PR, or at least, not for long; the truth will out, and your clients will be the ones to out it.

Figure out who you are, what you do, how you do it, who are the people you do it for, and what it’s like for them to deal with you; that’s your actual brand. Then build an online presence that clarifies, amplifies, and supports that brand. That’s how you’ll promote a successful law practice from now on.

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