The Law Firm Brand

Judith Stein-Korte

February 2014

Julius Melnitzer, Lexpert Magazine

As new forms of communication mean less personal interactions with clients, law firm branding is increasingly filling the marketing gap.

Lawyers discussing business development seem deeply fond of the near-maxim that “it's all about personal relationships.” Why is it, then, that “branding” is becoming so ubiquitous these days in the lexicon of law firm business development?

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That applies even more in a world where everything is out there, intentionally or not, for public consumption. Nowadays, brand perceptions are subject to a much greater spectrum of influence than they used to be. In this environment, it borders on foolhardy for a law firm to ignore its brand and becomes almost mandatory to do everything it can to shape it. “Brand has always been the battleground for differentiating law firms and you can never be casual about it or take it for granted,” says Judy Stein-Korte of Toronto, who is Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP's senior media and public relations officer. “And in this socially connected media world, brand reputation can be lost in seconds, or the amount of time needed to launch a YouTube video.”

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In the social media setting, then, a consistent message attains special significance. “One of the most interesting things I've been doing is inculcating social media best practices into the firm,” Stein-Korte says.

Perhaps that's why social media for lawyers to date has been less about engagement than about disseminating the brand. “It's not about everybody tweeting, but about putting important information in places where people we are interested in are looking,” Stein-Korte says. “On the other hand, in my opinion, anyone who still believes that social media is just a passing fad is out of sync.”

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For its part, Osler has been doing national client satisfaction surveys for more than a decade. “We continue to seek feedback in various forms because you can't promote your brand in a vacuum,” Stein-Korte says. “Because every client is different, you need very specific information.”

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