In my hometown of Jersey City, New Jersey, the Hague Machine was known for getting your uncle a job in the Medical Center and, during a snow storm, your street cleaned. That is, its branding was delivering on what matters in an ethnic blue collar urban area. Those were jobs and essential services.
From the get-go, future lawyers have to be equally shrewd about shaping their career path. The Class of 2015 better figure out fast what niche they will develop expertise in, credentials such as published articles, and contacts. The world doesn't have the time to sort through a diffuse brand identity.
In his book "Inside Straight," Aon lawyer and Abovethelaw.com columnist Mark Herrmann hammered that in his new business development section. Prospects scan law firm websites and individual lawyer biographies to find very specific experience such as winning litigation on the side of the defense in medical device cases. When I do assignments for a public relations agency which handles law firms, increasingly I am updating digital content to reflect this reality. Lawyers tend to be inward-looking creatures. They neglect putting themselves out there on the web and through mobile as recognized experts and successful litigators in X or Y field. That should be reinforced with media relations, speaking engagements, and special events such as seminars at corporate offices.
The beauty of intellectual growth in law school is something to savor. However, that can't be at the expense of building a brand in a special line of business.