Immigration-AttorneysBuilding a reputation when developing a practice as an Immigration Attorney

There is an old saying that states it takes years to build a reputation and minutes to destroy it. The saying is definitely applicable to the legal profession. Part of a building a successful solo practice is managing and developing a positive reputation that endures over your years of practice. Building your reputation doesn’t happen overnight, and should be part of a broader long term vision of where you’d like to see yourself and your practice in the long term.

For starters, your reputation among your peers and colleagues not only matters, but it can make or break your career. This includes treating everyone with courtesy, patience and respect. Whether it is opposing counsel, a judge or your own clients, you should understand that your actions can leave a lasting mark. Going the extra mile with a client can definitely lead to referrals and increased business, while coming to court unprepared can leave a judge with negative image of your competence.

Developing a positive reputation in your community can also have a tremendous impact on your business and its longevity. Organizing community events in which you answer questions, assist in clinics, or take pro-bono cases is not only rewarding professionally, but goes a long way in presenting your practice as a resource and asset to those living nearby.

In today’s day and age, online reputation matters. This includes not only your presence on review sites such as Yelp, but your social media accounts, and general online footprint. Consider taking the time to build not only a robust website, but social media profile for your firm that appear when your name is searched online. This can help you put your best face forward when people search your name.

A word of general caution with regard to the world we now live in. If you have a bad interaction with a client or consultation, consider the long term consequences it can have. A negative review written by a client can be have a real impact on your reputation and the types of clients you obtain. Refunding a potential client their consultation fee will cost a lot less than a negative online review.

You may also want to limit how public your personal social media accounts are. You may consider making your Facebook private, and manage what posts you would like the general public to see. This may be especially important if you are tagged in unflattering posts or pictures. Lastly, you should be aware of the statements, stances, or satire that you engage in online. You may think a Tweet or joke is harmless when it is made, but keep it mind that it can stay online for quite some time.

Keep in mind that your negative actions in person can also end up on the internet, and your online actions can have an impact on your real life practice. So just think about what you say, how you say it, and who else may be listening. If you wouldn’t want your words to be associated with you and your practice, you may want to be careful about posting them online, saying them into a microphone, or expressing them in public.

Developing a positive image and reputation is just as important as balancing the books, and is the type of investment that may be difficult to quantify, but is one of the cornerstones to maintaining a successful practice. Remember that as attorneys you may face a higher level of scrutiny for your words, actions and behavior. Keeping this in mind will help you put your best foot forward, and build a reputation that shines.

Building a reputation when developing a practice as an immigration attorney.

Hamid Yazdan Panah is a solo attorney in Berkeley focused on immigration and asylum.