Many lawyers struggle to think of what distinguishes themselves from other lawyers in the same specialty. They think that they are entirely fungible, and therefore, not marketable.
To combat this sense of sameness, some resort to a panicked arms race of puffery, magnifying every minor achievement in their bios and on their LinkedIn profiles. Others just give up on marketing, telling themselves that it’s not their thing.
But there is a third way, in which the first step is acceptance. The next time you’re tempted to think that you’re but one of many lawyers capable of doing your clients’ work, assume it’s true. In fact, if you’re a good lawyer, you should embrace the idea that you’re of a piece with other good lawyers.
The second step is to quit navel-gazing, and learn to think about yourself from your potential clients’ perspective.
Allow me to demonstrate by analogizing to the coaching universe. These days, one cannot swing a mouse without hitting a coach who specializes in lawyers; coaches to help you market, and build a stellar career, and achieve work-life balance, and even leave the law. There is significant overlap, if not outright sameness, in what these coaches aim to achieve for their clients. So on the surface, the offerings of many are interchangeable.
But. How each coach works and communicates with his or her clients, and how potential clients perceive each coach makes all the difference.
Personally, when I turn my perspective inward, to myself and my competition, I quickly come to the conclusion that there isn’t much difference among us. After all, marketing principles, which are based on human psychology, are pretty universal and can be taught after reading a couple of books (except that anyone who’d benefit from such teaching, would not be seeking a coach, but would buy said couple of books).
But if I shift my perspective to how my clients see me, my unique value (and the unique value of other coaches) becomes immediately apparent. It lies in my deep understanding of the stumbling blocks my clients (current and potential) experience, and in my ability to craft a message that will allow them to hear, believe in, and benefit from the proposed solution.
I know that my work resonates with just a sliver of the lawyering population, and not with that entire population. And I know that the clients with whom I resonate worked with other coaches who left them cold – not because they were bad coaches, but because they weren’t the right fit. Isn’t this a clear demonstration, then, that from a client’s perspective, coaches are not all that fungible?
So the next time you think you’re just one of many other lawyers who could do the work, shift your frame, and invest in listening to your potential clients. Because it’s the process of becoming highly relevant to your potential clients’ needs that will allow your uniqueness to shine.