The other day I was conversing with some friends that are attorneys. As you know, any conversation with a group of lawyers will turn, at some point, to our war stories. What made these war stories interesting were that they were not about clients but other attorneys. And it got me thinking about the importance of one’s reputation.
Yes, there is a difference between your character and your reputation. Some have argued that your character (i.e., your qualities as an individual) is more important than what others think of you. But what happens when your reputation is and/or becomes your brand? Can you really afford for your reputation to deviate, even slightly from who you truly are (i.e., your character)?
Here are five ways to align your character with your reputation:
1. Don’t be the elephant in the room. You know the person that makes the most noise, but does no work? Don’t be him or her.
2. Proceed with caution. Remember that when interacting with colleagues, we are all attorneys and we know and understand the business and practice of law. Don’t be that person who files unnecessary pleadings and employs all sorts of tactics that you know are not in the best interest of the client.
3. Follow the Golden Rule. Treat others as you want to be to be treated. This rule is so important it is conveyed in the Ideals of Professionalism.
4. Perception matters. Unfortunately, what others think about you dictates the way they behave toward you. Unless you plan to live in a bubble and not interact with anyone else, it is important that others have positive feelings toward you and treat you accordingly. This will help ensure a long career practicing law.
5. Be consistent at all times. You are not a chameleon and no one will make the time to figure you out. You certainly don’t want the one impression of you to be your “off day” or “a lesser version of yourself.” Take time to trademark your reputation!