By Anna Johansson • March 27, 2018•Careers
Reputation is a massive challenge to overcome for new law firm founders. When people seek legal counsel, they often gravitate toward the firms with the most successful track records, the most significant experience, and the most impressive name power; if you’re just starting out, you won’t have had the time or case experience necessary for any of these factors.
Fortunately, there’s an unlikely strategy that can help you establish and grow your reputation from scratch: storytelling.
Why Stories Are So Powerful
Storytelling may seem overly basic, but it’s a communication method that works well for multiple mediums; you can use stories in your marketing materials, on your website, and even in conversations with clients.
They’re advantageous for several reasons:
- Narrative structure. Stories, by nature, have a narrative structure that’s common to most cultures and backgrounds. There’s a central character in the middle of the action, as well as a clear beginning, middle, and end. We’ve heard so many stories in our lives that we can’t help but apply this formula to future stories we hear—and view them as more impactful because of it. The narrative structure also makes information easier to follow and understand than chunks of technical or directly explanatory text.
- Emotional impact. Stories involve sympathetic characters (real or imagined) who either have a profound impact on the world or remind us of some important concept. For example, some organizations tell stories of how their industry was changed by one person’s action, or how a single donation could impact the rest of the world. These types of stories resonate with us, eliciting an emotional response that makes us feel more personally attached to the person or brand that told it to us.
- Memorability. Stories are also often used in brand marketing because of their tendency to be remembered and recounted easily. People don’t have to remember facts and figures, nor do they have to remember verbatim passages; all they have to remember is the general concept behind the story and be able to recall or retell the story from that core concept. This makes it easier for stories to travel by word-of-mouth and enables them to form a lasting impression on readers.
- Accessibility. Stories are also a convenient tactic to use because of their accessibility; literally anyone can come up with a story to tell, whether it’s a personal anecdote from your past experience or an invented story meant to highlight or illustrate a concept you want to share with your readers. You don’t have to pay for stories, nor do you need advanced training to come up with one.
How to Use Stories to Build and Support Your Business
So which stories will be most effective when building your business from scratch?
These are some of the best to start with:
- Your personal story. You could entice more clients by telling your own personal story. Why did you get involved in the legal profession? What kind of impact are you hoping to make? What kind of impact have you already made? These are questions only you can answer, and they say a lot about your current experience and your passion for the job. Your answers might make the difference in appealing to a new client.
- Anonymized client stories. Even if you don’t have many clients, you can share what success stories you’ve already collected—so long as you anonymize them or get your clients’ express written permission. People love to read about the stories of their peers, especially if they end in success.
- Hypotheticals and metaphors. If you don’t have any “real” stories to tell, you could use imagined scenarios and hypotheticals to illustrate stories similar to what your target audience may already be experiencing. These figurative and speculative stories can be just as powerful, so long as they’re accurate.
With powerful stories to supplement your lack of experience, you’ll stand a much better chance of developing a powerful reputation early in your career. As you get more clients and time in the courtroom, the pieces will start falling into place, and you can use your success records as a more prominent and trustworthy way to show off your credentials.