A few years back, a student who was undergoing a course on criminal law, called me up and screamed at me. She was a practicing matrimonial lawyer in Bangalore with experience of 20 years or so. She was allocated a topic to write on, and she didn’t like it at all.
From what I remember, it was something about how blogging can help lawyers to get more clients. She was really upset about the topic, which she was asked to write on as a part of the career development module.
She was furious and told me that the topic itself showed that we are immature people and have no clue about how the legal profession works.
I tried to convince her that the time is changing and it’s online first in all industries, including in law. Everyone goes online and googles their problems, and if they see your content and come to trust it, they will also trust you and respect you for the same.
One can build up tremendous credibility online. Well, I couldn’t convince her. She asked me for a refund, which I refused and she stopped participating in the course. That was the end of it, unfortunately.
I was reminded of that incident this morning when I read about how Lilly Singh, a bisexual Indian origin woman, has become the first woman of color to break into the club of late-night show hosts on NBC. It is a great achievement. However, she has no background in media as such.
Where did she come from? Hollywood Reporter called her the freshest face on TV shows.
Lilly Singh started a YouTube channel 10 years back and made videos that went viral one after the other. Her videos are entertaining and on topics like what would it be like if the Game of Thrones was made in India and Shit White People Say to Me in LA.
Anyway, Lilly Singh’s story goes a long way to show how online content is shaping traditional media in today’s world. Do you think that law is different?
I assure you it is not. Ask the lawyer who has amassed half a million followers on TikTok.
Here is the thing: the internet has changed the economics of brand, reach, and credibility. Brands are being made and destroyed on the internet every minute. The pace is unthinkable for lawyers from older generations who are not familiar with this world.
Lawyers with massive online following will be the reality of the future. Those lawyers will also automatically command attention from mainstream media and will find clients far more easily thanks to their online stardom.
Legal practices will be built online, clients will be found online, mainstream legal establishment will embrace online legal influencers and work on their online presence. It’s already in motion, but the next ten years will change the face of legal industry.
How could you ride this wave?
Yesterday I took a session for the learners in our Legal Practice Development and Management course. With me there was Nipun Bhatia from Legal League Consulting, and we discussed how lawyers can attract more clients by building a stronger brand.
I have created are some of the exercises for them. Would you like to get access to some of these questions?
Take out some time and work on them.
Question 1: What work have I done that gave me the highest margin in the last 1-3 years? Write down the top 3.
Instructions: Be very specific. For example, do not write doing legal work for startups. Write down specific details, such as Drafting and Negotiating Series A SHA on the sell-side. Or recovering money through MSMED proceedings. Or obtaining a settlement for alimony in a contentious divorce case. Being specific goes a long way to narrow down a target group and will help you to have a laser-sharp focus for your branding efforts.
Most lawyers are scared to specialize narrowly. They think that a broad specialization is better. This is absolutely not correct! You specialize narrowly in one thing because you become the number one or at least one of the well known noticeable lawyers more easily in a narrow domain. You can then go on to add more domains. But trying to make your mark in everything right from the beginning means you spread yourself too thin to make a mark at all. You make your own task harder by having a wider focus.
This is why while we are identifying 3 different things as high margin work, we would still like you to focus on just one to start with unless you have a big enough team to work with. If you have a team of at least 3-4 in place, you could start with 3 right from the beginning.
Question 2: What are the networks that I am already part of? What are the high margin legal problems they have that are not solved well? Fill in the table below.
Nature of unsolved high margin problems
Example: classmates from school who are now in business
Example: retired teachers association
Litigation for arrears in pension and benefits, insurance claims not being honored, writing wills and other property related issue
Question 3: How can I regularly keep in touch with my important networks without spending a lot of time, leveraging technology, and benefit them on a regular basis? Take some time to think about the following questions.
Online events I can organise:
Platforms where I can contribute articles and videos:
Social media platforms where I can regularly share useful content and insights:
What kind of content I can easily create and post on a regular basis:
Can I create newsletters or information forums for any of your target audiences:
What is the kind of content that I can easily and naturally create:
What would be my modus operandi to build and engage an audience that may need my services from time to time:
One of my icons, Gary Vaynerchuck, says that all businesses in the new century are media businesses. Either you own attention through your own media, or you pay someone else to access their media in the form of ads.
Unless you have an audience that is interested in your content, you will have to rely on someone else to find clients in the future. This already happens in the USA, where most lawyers have to advertise aggressively to find clients.
How will things look ten years down the line in India?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.
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