Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Branding for Lawyers.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | April 20, 2010

The advertising people tell us that its important to establish a brand. Your brand is the way you present yourself to potential clients or customers.

What kind of branding is appropriate for lawyers and how are lawyers supposed to communicate a unique brand without becoming, well, unprofessional?

Consider the case of Pennsylvania Lawyer Judy Young. In her website/blog, Pennsylvania Winery and Hospitality Lawyer.com, she lays claim to a singular brand. There is none like it. If you take a look at the website ( ok, click here) you’ll see what I mean.

But many other lawyers are establishing their own brands without drastically over-limiting their specialties or narrowing their market. A Pittsburgh sole practitioner branded herself for many years as “The Generic Lawyer.” This carried the connotation of general practice and low fees in one short phrase. It brought a smile to your face (at least the first time) but most importantly, it was “sticky.” She marketed this brand so effectively that it appeared right after the first use of her name in her obituary.

I hear there is a legal practice in Las Vegas known as “Half Price Lawyers.” Not as good as Generic Lawyer, in my opinion, but it gets the message out there. Sticky? Yes, very sticky.

Some brands are depicted by an image or a slogan, rather than a tricky moniker or logo. There’s that grizzly old guy, Edgar, pointing at you from inside the TV and proclaiming that there is no fee “unless we get money for you.”

Of course, you have to accept the good with bad of any image you create. There is a lawyer marketing brand known as “Gorilla Lawyer.” The promoters of this brand have created a group marketing effort that individual lawyers can join. The logo is a head shot of a gorilla with a shirt collar and tie. The idea, I guess, is that if you hire one of these guys, you’ll get somebody who will tear up the joint defending your cause. While clients want energetic and forceful representation, does the gorilla personify this ideal? First off, the gorilla in the logo doesn’t look terribly smart. Second, don’t you really mean “guerilla?”

So, how to lay claim to your own personal brand as a lawyer without hiring an ad agency or becoming outlandish? The following advice is distilled from my reading of numerous blog posts on the subject.

Start by asking yourself the question, “What kind of a lawyer am I?” Then, “Who is my ideal client?” Once you have defined yourself and your client, the next question is: “How can I communicate who I am to my ideal client . . . in a short, effective way?”

People ask lawyers all the time, “what kind of law do you practice?” My short answer: “I’m a real estate litigator.” Of course, that’s not all that I do, but its a pretty concise nugget and it gives the them something to think about. Sticky? Yes, but not as sticky as Generic Lawyer. Nobody ever forgot that one.

Perhaps I ought to put it on my letterhead:

The Real Estate Litigatorâ„¢



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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