What happens if you run for a seat on your Bar Association’s board of directors but don’t end up getting elected? Hopefully, one of your colleagues takes you out for a drink and tells you why you deserved to win and assures you that you are sure to get elected the following year. But if you can put aside a bit of a bruised ego, there may be an upside that you aren’t seeing. In a larger legal community, you may not be “known” yet, but running for a leadership position may help you in building your brand.

You see, the bar association, and their communications team, are charged with actively promoting the bar’s election, which means that they have been actively putting your name, your firm’s name, perhaps your headshot and likely information about your practice in mailings, newsletters, social media posts and more.  A widely accepted marketing principle, the “advertising rule of 7” suggest that it takes seven touches before someone interacts with your marketing “call to action.” So essentially, if you are looking to heighten your profile in your legal community, the Bar is taking a few of those 7 touches off of your hands.

Bar associations, by nature, are social organizations, and therefore, offer many opportunities to make connections with other attorneys – and possible referral sources – that are a bit different than traditional networking.  Bars have committees that tend to do the bulk of the association’s work, from planning continuing legal education programs to convening volunteers for community service projects. Job source Monster.com advises that getting involved in a committee is a good way to advance your career, citing numbers benefits including “gaining visibility by standing out via your efforts” and “network expansion with new internal contacts.”

Further, while serving in a bar leadership position is and should be altruistic, there is a component of leadership that inherently creates stronger name recognition and visibility. Many bar associations recognize leaders on their websites and their publications (giving you an added bonus of additional SEO fodder), and there are also times where leaders are asked to speak as subject-matter experts, or on behalf of the organization.  Bar members and leaders, also have opportunities to garner more visibility by writing for the Bar’s blog or electronic or print publications, or through leading panel discussions and planning educational programs. If you are able to byline an article in your bar’s journal, with reprint permission, you now have a great marketing piece demonstrating your expertise to share with your clients and/or potential clients. If you are speaking on a panel at a program, your name and photo will likely appear on the promotional materials for that program, increasing your exposure to a potential referral network once again.  

There is intrinsic value in becoming an active part of your legal community – whether through a regional, specialty or diversity bar association. The value to you may be in mentorship or training or other bar benefits as well, but in competitive legal environments, whatever you can do to let people know who you are and what you do can help raise the bar on your marketing efforts.

Want to learn more? Download our free white paper: How to market your firm through your bar association.