How to build your personal brand within your firm // Trial & Error

The junior associate's guide to raising your profile and developing your niche

By Atrisha Lewis

On Friday May 23rd, 2014

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As a junior associate, you want to develop your practice area by working on files you’re interested in. But to get those files, you have to make yourself known as the woman (or man) for the job. If your colleagues don’t know your skills and interests, why would they bother to staff you on a file? To build your brand, you just need to build your colleagues’ awareness of who you are and where your interests lie.

Building your profile involves two basic steps: general profile-building, and targeted profile-building. Here are some examples:

1. General profile-building

If your profile needs a boost, consider these simple tactics:

  • Make the most of your elevator rides. Time in an elevator is a great opportunity to get to know someone who likely has your undivided attention for the next two minutes. As a general rule, I try to introduce myself to any colleague I haven’t met. That can be as simple as: “Hi, I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Atrisha Lewis, an associate in the litigation group.” It’s a great way to break the elevator silence, meet new people and become a familiar face around the firm.
  • Get involved in student recruitment. It’s actually fun, and it’s also a great way of familiarizing yourself with your colleagues, particularly if you’re at a large firm.
  • Attend the firm’s social events. This will help you connect with lawyers from different practice groups and years of call. To make the most of these events, I make it my goal to talk to at least one new person at each event so that I expand my internal network.

2. Targeted profile-building

Being a recognized name and face at your firm isn’t enough. You have to associate your name with the work you’re interested in — this is how you create your personal brand. I’m interested in mining litigation, so my goal was to ensure that my colleagues know. 

Here are some ways to stay top-of-mind with the right people:

  • Join an industry group and share your experiences. I joined Women in Mining, and when something noteworthy comes up during a networking event, I’ll share it with the mining litigation team in a short email.
  • Offer to help with major events in your desired area of practice. The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference is the biggest mining event in Canada. I knew it was important to mining litigators, so I proactively asked the lawyers if they needed help preparing for the conference.
  • Offer to cowrite articles. A great way to build your profile is to approach a senior lawyer in your desired field and ask to co-write an article with them. Chances are, they will take you up on your offer. This is a great way to develop your expertise and build relationships.
  • Stay on top of industry trends. I follow mining news and cases and often forward new developments along to lawyers who practice in that space. This is a simple way to build your knowledge of the industry and stay top-of-mind with the right people.

Building your brand is a long and difficult process. It takes years to become an expert in your field. That’s why taking small, frequent steps towards your goal will help you move forward. If you have any other strategies for building your internal brand, send ’em on over