New associates in medium to large law firms are always looking for new ways to stand out and get noticed. What about a law blog? By creating a high-quality legal blog, you can bring value, and clients, to your law firm and take the first steps up the partnership ladder.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re an associate in a big law firm. You have billable hour demands that often leave you working long hours and going home exhausted. Why would you want to do even more law-related work on the side, for free?
I recently attended a seminar hosted by the Institute for Continuing Legal Education called Trends in Workplace Redesign for 21st Century Employers and Lawyers, by Debra Epstein Henry of Flex-Time Lawyers LLC. She specializes in helping law firms retain and promote talent, especially women.
During the seminar, she emphasized the importance of sponsorship. As new associates, you need someone to take you under their wing and show you the ropes (a mentor), but you also need someone going to bat for you and opening doors so you can advance. That is a sponsor.
But sponsorship needs to go both ways. No one is going to stick their neck out for you if you aren’t bringing value for them. A blog is one way to do that.
Blogs Can Help New Associates Develop Leads
As a new associate, you are expected to bring in new leads and build a book of business. But if no one knows what you do, why will they come to you or your firm for legal help? A well-publicized blog can remind your friends and family of what you do. By building in good SEO, you will also become accessible to online searches and potential clients.
Make sure your signature block, author bio, and about page all say what firm you work for and have ways to contact you directly (your direct line or email address, for example). That way, potential clients come to you, rather than your firm’s general intake, and you get the credit. This will show your sponsor that you are engaged in your firm success and make them more willing to take a chance on you.
Your Blog Can Spotlight Your Work, Your Firm, and Your Sponsor
As you get into the habit of blogging, the topics you choose will naturally come from your daily life and practice. When you win a case, blog about it. When you research an interesting new issue, summarize your findings, and when your sponsor speaks, listen.
As a new associate, you probably won’t be featured in many articles, presentations, or even internal memos. But your sponsor will be. By quoting, sharing, and linking his success, you can help boost his career. Based on humans’ natural tendency toward reciprocity, your sponsor will also want to help you. For example she might offer to write a guest post or feature your blog on her own.
Blogging Builds Your Reputation
New associates can feel anonymous within their firms. But if you distribute your blog to your practice group (tastefully), you can start to build an internal reputation. Your colleagues and superiors will see you as someone who knows something, and will come to you to handle bigger, more important matters. Then, when your sponsor recommends you for a big project, you won’t be an unknown. Instead, you’ll have built a reputation for being forward thinking and legal knowledge.
Blogging isn’t just for small firms looking to land a few more cases. It is a powerful tool for personal professional development. For new associates in medium and large law firms, it can be the difference between toiling in obscurity and developing a reputation. By pairing good blog writing with the right sponsor, you could quickly find yourself heading for a promotion.
Lisa Schmidt is a blogging coach with Legal Linguist based in Ferndale, Michigan. She helps lawyers learn the best way to write informational and influential blogs to jumpstart their business. If you are ready to start writing, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.