The Newfangled Lawyer's Guide to Personal Branding


By Patrick Patino

Personal branding is a hot topic right now. For attorneys, it may be about how you position yourself individually alongside or in alignment with your law firm's branding. Another school of thought is that your personal branding doesn’t necessarily need to be in alignment with your law firm’s branding. Can an associate attorney have a personal brand distinct and different from the brand of the firm they work at? Some firms say “sure” while others say “absolutely not.”

I recommend looking at personal branding from the perspective of an attorney telling a story of who they are. Show. Don’t tell.

As many people know, I made an intentional choice about a year ago to change my headshot used on my law firm’s website. I am wearing a hoodie with the firm’s logo on it with a smile on my face. I wanted to show that I am an approachable human. Now I wear hoodies during all of my video calls with clients. I wear hoodies when I give presentations. About 6 months ago, I started wearing a backwards hat, a comfort item since my youth. Clients have commented positively that they feel more comfortable and at ease because I am also comfortable and at ease.

I talk to clients like I am talking to a friend. I don’t adapt how I talk or the words that I use. I talk to other attorneys like I am talking to a friend. I don’t use legal jargon. I am professional, but with a modern twist. That works for me to build connections, which in turn, drives business. 

This personal brand shift has paid off. In the last couple of months, prospective clients have started mentioning in intake calls that they contacted me because I wasn’t wearing a suit. People who leave Google reviews use words like kind, real human, easy to talk to, honest, professional, understanding, genuine, down to earth, and helpful. I have intentionally created a personal brand that attracts these reviews. This is by design, not by accident. These are the clients I want. 

I am not suggesting that every attorney should start wearing hoodies and backwards hats. Also, personal branding is not just about what you wear. It is about who you are. It is about the language and words that you use. It is about sharing snippets of your non-attorney self to clients, co-workers, opposing counsel, etc. A key to personal branding is discovering who you are and what sets you apart. After all, personal branding is a business tool. It is not a gimmick, but a way to drive and attract meaningful business that is a good fit for you. 

Creating your personal brand doesn’t have to be complicated or strenuous. The process should be fun and rewarding. Here are some easy steps to get you going: 

  • Discover who you are. (Ahhhh. Ugghhh. Yes, I am suggesting that some introspection and self-reflection is in order). If you have a personal brand as the bull-dog when you are really a golden retriever at heart, it isn’t going to feel great or drive business. Take some time honing in on your values and beliefs. Who do you want to be? Why are you an attorney? Who are you other than an attorney? What do you care about? 
  • Find the themes or motifs that resonate with you. If you love nature, be the nature attorney. If you love writing complex appellate briefs, be the appellate brief attorney. If you love being a mom, be the mom attorney. If you love melancholic music, be the melancholic music attorney. Pick a lane and run with it. 
  • Choose your voice. Words and tone matter a lot in the legal profession. I have chosen to stick with a lexicon that veers towards informal, kind, empathic, approachable, fun, friendly, and direct. Laughter and levity are a big part of my voice. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to this. You might try some things out and they fall flat and you’ll have to try again. One exercise is to write down a list of your favorite 15-20 words that you want to use more in emails. 
  • Presentation matters. This is another way of saying “what is your look?” Do you wear colorful socks? Do you have an awesome bow tie collection? Do you rock tattoos? Do you wear pink suits? Do you have floral patterned shoes? Do you have a consistent color palette that people would identify with you? You can be professional and have a unique personal presentation. 
  • Create content. The attorney universe of personal branding is nowhere near saturated. There are attorneys who write regularly about brief writing, blue book citations, alternative billing, work life balance, attorney well-being, SCOTUS opinions, etc. You could be the attorney who makes videos about trail running or home-brewing beer or knitting. You could write a weekly newsletter about the ACLU or NIL or RHONY. Produce a podcast where you have attorneys on to chat about their hobbies or favorite moment of being an attorney or being a mom/dad attorney. (I could do this all day). The goal is to be considered a thought leader so that people keep you top of mind. 
  • Stand out. For the love of all that is good, don’t blend in. Don’t copy what someone else is doing. Attorneys are notorious for doing this. Look to other industries for inspiration. Clients notice attorneys that stand out. This is possible even for the introverts amongst us. 

In short, personal branding is about leaning into who you are as a differentiator to drive business development in a unique way. Personal branding should not feel forced or artificial. You should make intentional and strategic decisions that feel right to you. This can be easier said than done, because of various factors: workplace politics, your fear of self-judgment, or your fear of trying something new (just to name a few). As with anything, I am advocating for a newfangled way of approaching an aspect of the legal profession, but I encourage lawyers to do what works for them. 

Everyone has a different journey because everyone is different. Use that to your advantage.

Patrick Patino is an attorney at and owner of Patino King LLC, a law firm providing debtor and creditor representation in Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa. He hosts The Newfangled Lawyer Podcast where he chats with other attorneys in order to humanize the attorney experience. He is also owner and operator of Newfangled Legal (, a coaching business for attorneys daring to do things differently, and LexHaven (, a coaching and consulting business for legal changemakers. Contact him at,, or