Last week The Pew Forum released their findings of how certain professions are viewed by the public as contributing to society. Not surprisingly, lawyers were at the bottom of the list with 34% of people saying 'lawyers contribute not very much or nothing at all.'
How did we get such a bad reputation? More importantly, if that's how we're perceived by potential clients, what can we do to improve the perception of our own firms?
Community involvement may be one of the best, and easiest, ways to better the public's perception of not just your firm, but that of our occupation as a whole. Here are a few ideas on how to do just that.
Whether it's at a local non-profit or religious institution, charitable organizations can always use some extra hands to spread their message and get things done. Help build the community around you, and members will see the value that you provide.
2. Give Talks
Find local clubs that seek out guest speakers for events and give a talk about your practice area. Giving people some free bits of information will make you look like a team player who wants to see everyone succeed.
3. Be Present
Whether you rent table at your local farmer's market or host a local charity event, there's no better way to get involved in a community than by being an active member of the community -- outside of work.
Become a mentor to high school, college or law school students. Helping students understand the realities of the legal profession, rather than the stereotypes, can be powerful. You may also inspire someone to be a lawyer that never thought they would, or could, be a lawyer.
5. Take on Pro Bono Work
Show the community that you care by taking on pro bono work. Helping out small business owners in the community is a great way to show that we're not all greedy ambulance chasers.
They say perception is everything, and as lawyers, we need to be careful to sidestep some terrible stereotypes. Getting involved in your community and showing people that you and your firm care, is a great way to improve not only your firm's reputation in the community, but that of all lawyers as well.