Adjusted for inflation, BigLaw associates are two dimes for a dozen. Sure, the hiring partners talk about “investing” in associates and “grooming” them for success, but the bottom line is this: you’re a cog in a global machine. Not as fungible as crude oil or wheat, but fungible nonetheless. So, what do you do to stick out from the rest? What distinguishes you from all the other wunderkids? Two words: personal microbranding. Personal microbranding can set you apart, create an aura of competence, and lead to priority in the donut pool. Here are top considerations.
There is no better opportunity to embed your personal microbrand than on the internal office or case memorandum. If a partner asks for a memo on a particular legal subject, it’s your chance to shine, not only legally but also personally. How? By putting your microbranded message immediately under your name or initials, like so:
If successful, you may start hearing partners say things like “give it to that ballsy kid“ or “this case would be good for that ‘go-to’ chick.”
Monogrammed cufflinks and dress shirts were once a high-stylin’ way to microbrand. They’re still good for an old school retro approach, particularly if you are at a BigLaw firm that continues to use the wholesale method of personal microbranding. More modern microbranding accessories include frisbees, dog bowls, ankle bracelets, henna tattoos, and “microbrand” rings (similar to class rings but with your own microbrand message and design). Cutting edge microbrand accessories, which we advise only if you understand your firm’s culture extremely well, include monogrammed shoes, desktop holograms, inter-office postcards, and personalized highball glasses. While the firm may frown upon a full-scale bar in your office, there are still easy ways to install a hidden minibar to burnish your brand.
It’s really up to you to develop your particular microbrand, and there are 2.7 million microbrand consultants available for a small fee, including me. But we advise you to stay clear of most fly-by-night microbranding consultants who rely almost entirely on Successories and typically regurgitate the same messages to thousands of BigLaw associates. You can only use “Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference” so many times before partners will recognize that your microbrand’s freshness date was 1996.
Some partners won’t “get” microbranding nor understand what you are trying to do. If a partner comes into the office with a microbranded memo and says something like “what the fuck is this?” don’t sweat it. Just chalk it up as a typo or blame it on the secretary. But realize the partner is also behind the times and doesn’t understand today’s need for a global marketing dynamic. Understand that it’s the partner’s loss. Seriously, you’ll be his or her colleague quickly enough.