Build your (our) credibility

Issue October 2013 By Damian J. Turco

Credibility is key.  As an attorney, it's incrementally acquired a number of different ways. It may be by the recommendation of another attorney or client. It may be by the incredible results you've attained in previous cases. You may have built credibility by having a fantastic website with stellar online reviews. Perhaps you've gained credibility by volunteering for a local cause.

An equally accepted proposition is that credibility is easier to destroy than to build. But let's not let that minor detail derail our vision. After all, it's simply not that challenging to build credibility every day. And I don't just mean credibility for you personally. You should be building credibility for attorneys generally, because having public sentiment in favor of attorneys is good for your business.

In the summer of 2007, my wife and I attended a party. There were a couple hundred people there, of all ages and careers. The guy I remember most introduced himself jokingly as "a liar." With a wide grin on his face he quickly corrected himself. "Did I say liar? I meant lawyer."

Six years, two bar admissions and hundreds of clients later and that moment still irks me. Do we not have a difficult enough time battling the negative perceptions created by others? We actually have colleagues who resort to deprecation of our chosen career? For some time now, I've combated similar conversations head on. "Have you considered another career path?" Or, "That's some marketing program you've got there." But I'm going to take a wider swath at the issue now. To all those attorneys who make bad attorney jokes for the chance of a fleeting chuckle: cut it out!

The good news is that we - our MBA community - can make a distinct difference in consumer perception of lawyers. How? Speak positively about your practice and the practice of law always. Share your great results with friends, family and former clients. Volunteer for worthy causes and make a difference when it doesn't directly benefit your bottom line. Cut out any negativity you preach about the legal profession, including that of difficult opposing counsels or a judge that didn't rule your way. Make it a daily goal to spread the word about how lawyers are doing great work.

A positive public perception of lawyers means more people will look to us for solutions more often. It means they'll think of us as positive contributors to society rather than as an elitist, isolated group. Spread the word, members, and you'll see a positive characterization can overtake negative sentiment when we have credibility. Yes, there will always be individuals who seek to put us in a negative light. Our goal should be for that characterization to be overwhelmingly isolated and unpopular. Let's get to work, and let's raise the bar.

Damian J. Turco is an attorney licensed in Massachusetts and Florida and the owner of Mass Injury Firm. He serves as the vice chair of the MBA's Law Practice Management Section Council, is a member of the Boston Inns of Court and practices primarily in Boston.