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Jane Southren

Stand out from other lawyers: Think deeds not words

Practice Made Perfect

When thinking about how to distinguish yourself from the legions of other lawyers in the province who do more or less exactly what you do, think less about the words you are broadcasting widely and more about the actions you are taking to impact clients and people in your network individually.

Lawyers often find themselves engaged in the uncomfortable exercise of trying to find the words that will communicate their particular value proposition — often for bios, websites, promotional materials, elevator pitches, etc. The words chosen are often to the effect that the lawyer provides fantastic service, is responsive, is sensitive to pricing, has a niche area of expertise, has different recognitions and awards, etc.

The problem with these words and messages is that they don’t actually distinguish you because so many of those other lawyers who do what you do are using more or less the same messaging to try and distinguish themselves, too.

The things that really make you stand out to your clients and your network generally aren’t the things you broadcast about yourself in promotional materials, on websites and on bios. They are the actions that you take that address the needs and desires of your clients or members of your network, individually. It is the actions, not the words, that bring your particular value proposition to life and make it real and valuable to your clients and contacts.

You become distinct when people — individuals who could or do work with you — see something exceptional in you or in the experience of working with you, and because of that thing, they become an ambassador for you in the market, spreading the word about the value you offer.

If you have time for both the words and the deeds, fantastic. But if you have a limited bank of non-billable time that you can devote to business development, I would err on the side of spending that time on getting a much deeper understanding of the needs and desires of your clients and the people in your network and finding ways to fill them. 

If you do it well, you will become indispensable and completely distinct in the communities that matter to you. Moreover, everyone with whom you engage on this basis will become very clear on the value that you bring to their lives and perhaps even better able than you to articulate to others. And articulate it they will — to the people in their networks, which will be filled with other people that you will probably be well placed to serve.


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