When you shake hands with the law firm reps come hiring season, you’ll probably be trying to make a good first impression. But guess what? It’s too late. The recruiters have already met you — or at least your online persona. A quick Google search has introduced them to a whole whack of digital activity (and photo evidence) associated with your name. It’s all part of your brand, and you will be judged on it. Luckily, it’s within your control. Here’s how to make sure your digital brand is up to snuff.
Get a good handle
“Claim your ID with an eye to being professional, and think about the long term,” says Joshua Lenon, lawyer-in-residence at Vancouver cloud-based legal software company Clio. When choosing a handle for Twitter or Instagram, use your name, or a close variation, that includes nothing about your hobbies or the fact that you’re a student. While you’re at it, ditch your in-joke Gmail address and your cutesy voicemail message.
“Don’t hide aspects of yourself from social media,” says Lenon, who writes for Clio’s legal blog. Post food shots and movie reviews. Firms want to hire a real person who can talk to clients, not a robot who can recite caselaw.
“It’s easier to do harm than good; there’s a much greater risk of sullying one’s reputation on social media than there is for making it better,” says Sean Bawden, an employment lawyer with Kelly Santini LLP in Ottawa who writes a blog called Labour Pains. Think before you post strong political ideas, religious comments or anything that might come across as sexist, homophobic or cruel in any way.
Know your brand
If you’re into sports law, post about sports. Want to join a big corporate firm? Chat about business. Your social media conversations should line up with what you claim are your interests in an interview.
To blog or not to blog?
Musing about your life or practice area can get you noticed. Employment lawyer Sean Bawden says to “make sure the writing is really good.” Lisa Stam, a specialist in social media law, suggests testing the waters by writing a guest post for a legal blog that covers topics in your practice area. Writing one entry is a good way to get a feel for how much work blogging takes and whether you’re up for the task of writing new pieces regularly.
But, be cautious about any legal industry blogging — you’re not an expert yet. Stick to what you know and write about the law from your perspective as a student or a junior lawyer.