Self-promotion: It doesn't have to be all or nothing

Elizabeth Jolliffe
Your Benchmark Coach

For the vast majority of lawyers, self-promotion ranks right up there with answering interrogatories, or that ilk, as the bane of our lawyerly existence.

Say what? What about all of those SuperLawyers, Facebook and LinkedIn posts, humblebrags and windbags? What about those people who walk down the hall pounding their chests and blowing a horn about their latest successes? Isn't all of that self-promotion? And if so, doesn't that mean that there are plenty of lawyers who love self-promotion? Sure, of course. But not you, and not thousands of good lawyers like you.

And you swear now, as you have sworn before, that you do not want to be like one of "those" types. You won't admit it publicly but you still believe that being a good lawyer ought to be enough for more business, better assignments or a new or first job to come your way.

Wake up and put your hands back on the wheel of your career! We may have driverless cars sooner than we thought, but not soon enough to navigate the road you are currently on.

The underlying idea is to become slightly famous to your target market - no matter whether you are looking to build your book of business, get a promotion or find a new job. For more on this slightly famous concept, see "Get Slightly Famous, Become a Celebrity in Your Field and Attract More Business," by Steven Van Yoder. In my opinion, becoming a little bit famous to your target market includes appropriate self-promotion.

So what is appropriate self-promotion? You get to gauge it for yourself. Look at a speedometer, if your car still has such a thing. See 0 mph as absolutely no self-promotion and 120 mph as, in your opinion, the most inappropriate self-promoting lawyer.

Consider where you are on the self-promotion speedometer and the difference between there and your fear of being that shameless self-promoter. Where would you like to be between 0 and 120 mph? What self-promotion would you be doing at that speed? What do you need to do to get there? To cruise once you are there?

Take a deep breath and take control. Put your hands on the wheel of your career and get going.


Elizabeth Jolliffe is a certified career management and business development coach for lawyers. She practiced for 19 years as a business litigator and partner at a large Michigan firm. Jolliffe helps her clients take charge of their practice and career. She can be contacted at

Published: Wed, Apr 22, 2015


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