What is thought leadership in law?
There are two parts to law firm thought leadership. The first is the more classic or traditional form of thought leadership in law. These might be, for example, people who are looking to drive change or reform in the particular areas of law they work in. They may look to contribute to change either independently or collectively. This often presents as being present and visible through news sources, credible publications and journals.
Then there is the second type of thought leadership. This is where people do not rely on gateway third parties to present their thought leadership to the world. Instead, they take it into their own hands and publish their thoughts and their beliefs to a broader audience. And usually, across multiple platforms.
When you think about law journals, they are intended for your peers in law. When we think about news sources, they are for a broader audience and if in high volume, can garner the attention you might be looking to attract. Otherwise, there is the content you create and distribute yourself.
So, law firm thought leadership can be delivered in both traditional and modern ways. Depending on what your objectives are, in some instances, who you are looking to have an influence on, will dictate your approach.
When we think about the variety of platforms that are available to lawyers today, there is real potential to reach not only peers but also potential clients and referral networks. There is also this incredible opportunity to be able to develop a lot of business off the back of what is best known as ‘thought leadership marketing’.
What is Law Firm thought leadership marketing?
In a nutshell, thought leadership marketing is sharing your knowledge and expertise in a way that is easy-to-consume by the audiences it is intended for.
It is about determining who you want to affect change with and then selecting the best approach and running with it. So, if your business goal is to attract more clients and keep your team busy, then you will need to drive awareness to the individuals you employ and create marketing content that talks to their most immediate problems.
Here at Loyalest, we call it developing ‘remote rapport’ – developing trust through content before someone is ready to pick up the phone and speak to a lawyer. Remote rapport can be delivered in a range of ways but overall, it is about getting started and staying consistent. Consistency of visibility matched with quality content is what ensures brands (including lawyer and law firm brands), stay top-of-mind.
Why are law firms investing in thought leadership?
Most people are aware that there are great benefits to creating a thought leadership marketing strategy and executing a plan to reach broader and newer audiences. There are so many misconceptions about the law and about why things are the way they are, so by creating a strategy and educating your target market on what you know to be true, you will have set up a powerful way to acquire clients. And if you are consistent in presenting content, it becomes significantly easier and more effective over time.
Often firm owners come to us because they are looking to drive awareness of their firm or specific lawyers with specialist skills. We assist them, in amongst their busy lives, to create content that reflects their knowledge and professionalism and saves them time.
If you as a lawyer or your team do this regularly, then your firm can become a more well-known source of information that more people are aware of. And for the people who already know you, this work positions you higher in their minds than those that do not make themselves visible.
What to consider when establishing a thought leadership strategy
To start I recommend you think about who you wish to target with your thought leadership content.
Is it potential clients you want the trust of? Is it your referral network that can direct more business your way? Or perhaps it is a mix of the two?
Potential clients are one market, but your referral network is also key to establishing a thought leadership strategy. Who sends business your way? Is it other lawyers who work in other areas of specialisation or is it other professionals such as accountants or financial planners? Or some other profession?
Always match your strategy back to what it is that you are hoping to achieve in the short term. Perhaps you are looking to build your personal profile or perhaps you are focused on business development. Either way, start with one target area and do that well before adding another into the mix.
Another element to consider when you are looking to put yourself ‘out there’ as a thought leader is to think carefully about whether you want to put yourself out there as a thought leader and use the sources that exist which can be harder to control, or if you are looking to take charge of yourself. Both options can be incredibly powerful but there is less control of how you are presented to the world when you engage with external sources.
If you’re looking to use the sources that already exist, there are PR agencies that can help. Connecting via media source websites like Sourcebottle or HelpAReporter can help you build your personal profile and become a source of information when there is a need for some insight or a quote. Journalists and editors are juggling a number of stories at one time, so they will tap into a source that they trust and know will be available to them with minimal fuss. Of course, that can be very difficult to do if you are on client consultations or having to go to Court. It definitely has power, but it is something to contemplate when choosing your approach.
When you are looking to establish thought leadership, you should ask yourself these questions:
- What is the big picture goal you are looking to achieve from your thought leadership?
- How do you imagine you will do that?
- Are you prepared to be visible on social media platforms?
- Are you prepared to be on video?
- Are you prepared to put your opinion out to the world and be prepared for responses that may not be in agreement with you?
- Are you okay with people talking about you and are you okay with them sharing your content?
If you are looking to be perceived as the go-to person in your market for the type of clients you are looking to attract, there are a range of different ways in which you can approach thought leadership marketing. The media is just one of them.
If you don’t wish to use avenues like the media, you can create thought leadership content that you can attribute to your own website which can then be used across social media platforms and sent via email to your clients and networks. This approach is where you can build up credibility with search engines like Google. That is, Google can identify that you have an increasing library of content that connects to the law services you offer. This can assist with being able to rank higher when potential clients are searching for your services.
Thought leadership for lawyers & Firms
Depending on your goals, you may be looking to build only your own personal brand as a lawyer. Other times, clients are looking to boost the credibility of the whole practice or firm by creating content with the support of their lawyers. This is the majority of the work that we do with clients. It’s about creating consistent content in the most efficient way and minimising time away from client work.
What often happens is people tend to start this thought leadership work and do not continue. True law firm thought leadership cannot be achieved by starting and stopping.
It is the lawyers and the firms that are consistent that have the better results, long-term. If we are to look at anyone with a high profile in almost any industry, it is their consistency of quality delivery paired with consistency of visibility that keeps them in that position. Lawyers and law firms are no different.