LM Feature: Nicole Abboud: The Gen Why Lawyer
Nicole Abboud is like a lot of young lawyers. In fact, she might be just like YOU. Are you a new lawyer trying to navigate your career in law and figure out if you made the right decision? Did you pick the right firm? Is this the right practice area for you? Perhaps you’re questioning whether or not you want to practice law at all. Nicole Abboud has been there. She found herself feeling “unhappy, stressed and unfulfilled” in her new career. Even after starting her own firm and switching practice areas, she still felt unsatisfied with life in law.
She knew that she couldn’t be alone in her discontent so she launched her podcast, “The Gen Why Lawyer” in March 2015. We had a chance to learn more about Nicole and how she transitioned out of the practice of law and what she’s doing to help lawyers find satisfaction and success in their legal careers.
LM: When you first started your legal career what was it that left you feeling unfulfilled in your new role?
NA: At first, it was the sudden reality check of what life and work looked like as a lawyer. Naturally, there was a huge learning curve as a new lawyer so initially, that is what caused a lot of anxiety. There was a lot I hadn’t learned in law school that I was struggling to learn as a lawyer. Then, when I became a bit more accustomed to the work, I realized that it wasn’t the novelty of being a lawyer that caused me anxiety, it was being a lawyer all together. Being an attorney wasn’t in harmony with my personality and didn’t align with whom I wanted to be for the rest of my life. I didn’t enjoy the practice area I was in and despite switching to a few different practice areas throughout the 5 years that I practiced law, I still had a nagging feeling that this wasn’t meant for me.
LM: It took you a few years before you took the big jump to take your career in a different direction, what was it that finally led you to launch Abboud Media?
NA: After speaking with so many courageous lawyers on my podcast, The Gen Why Lawyer, I felt inspired and empowered to finally take charge of my life and career. I had been doing a lot of research behind the scenes as to what else I could do with my skills and finally settled on branding and marketing using podcasting and videos. When I decided to launch Abboud Media, I had reached a point where it felt like the right time to take the leap. I had finished up my last legal matter and knew that I didn’t want to take on any more legal work. So it seemed like a natural point to make the transition. I did all of my research. I educated myself on everything I needed to know to launch a business. Luckily, I had the support and guidance of mentors, colleagues, friends and family. It was now or never.
LM: Can you tell us more about your company Abboud Media and what you do?
NA: Sure. We are a full production company helping lawyers and law firms build their brands and establish a strong presence online using videos and podcasting. We handle all aspects of production, from the planning to recording and editing, and post-production and promotion.
I love being able to help lawyers showcase their personalities and build their “know, like and trust” factor. I meet many lawyers who share with me how they want to take charge of their marketing and don’t want to spend an obscene amount on marketing tactics that don’t work. I love being able to introduce them to a whole new world of brand building. There’s no better way to build a connection with a potential client than by using your own voice, whether it’s via video or a podcast. I’m grateful to play a small part in helping lawyers connect with the right clients.
LM: Your podcast, The Gen Why Lawyer has been around for a few years now. Can you tell us how you came up with the name for the podcast and the types of subjects you address on the podcast?
NA: Back when I thought of the name in 2015, I thought it was fairly witty. I knew that I wanted to base the podcast on conversations with other young lawyers from my generation, Generation Y, and I also knew that the topics we would discuss were those of interest to my generation of lawyers. Thus, a play on words was in order!
I focus on two main categories of people as guests for the show: lawyers who are happily practicing in unconventional, niche practice areas and lawyers who left the practice of law seeking fulfillment in alternative non-legal career. I chat with my guests about how they’re building a career that leaves them fulfilled and cultivating a life that they adore, either inside or outside the law.
LM: Based on speaking with new lawyers and your personal experiences, what would you say is one thing you wished you would have learned while in law school?
NA: Some subjects I wish I could have learned in law school were branding, marketing, and business development. I imagine these days more and more law schools are offering classes that prepare students to marketing themselves when they enter the profession, whether or not they work for a firm, the government, or as solos. When I attended law school, I didn’t find any such classes. It would have been great to learn the basics of how to bring in business, attract clients, and develop a name for myself as a lawyer in a crowded profession.
LM: What would you say are the biggest concerns of the millennial lawyer?
NA: I believe the concerns of Millennial lawyers are the same as the concerns of lawyers of any generation: we want to build careers that bring us happiness, make a difference in our communities, and allow us to lead a meaningful life. The biggest concern that Millennial lawyers have revolves around the fact that we have entered a profession that is steeped in tradition and slow to evolve. For Millennials, being agile and open to change comes naturally to us because we grew up during a time of rapid change brought on by technology and other historical occurrences. Thus, learning to operate within the confines of rigid structures typically found in large law firms is something we struggle with. To that end, I’m constantly researching and learning about firms that are innovative and are succeeding at building harmonious workplace cultures that vibe with the new generation.
LM: What tips do you have for millennials struggling with overcoming generational differences in the work place?
NA: Generational differences in the workplace can certainly cause tension and make the work place a bit less pleasant. I would recommend you engage in open communication with your colleagues and actively listen to understand where they’re coming from. People behave based on their understanding of the world which is informed by their upbringing. Thus, members of different generations will bring with them their own set of values and beliefs. It’s important to acknowledge and respect the differences that exist in the work place while trying to keep an open mind as to a co-worker’s perspective and opinion. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that everyone working with in a firm is working towards a common goal and vision. Thus, any differences that might exist should be acknowledged and appreciated in order to collectively move forward.
LM: Why is it so important for lawyers to invest in their branding and marketing?
NA: It’s important for lawyers to invest in their branding and marketing because being a lawyer nowadays means you have to understand how to be a business person as well. It’s no longer sufficient to solely be knowledgeable about the law, you must understand business concepts such as marketing and networking. This applies to a lawyer in any position at any stage in their career. There are 1.3 million lawyers in the US according to the ABA, thus is it crucial for lawyers to learn how to market themselves so that they stand out in the crowd and are able to better attract their ideal clients. Also, focusing on building a brand allows the lawyer to explore avenues and opportunities beyond just the law, if they desire to do so. For many lawyers who have managed to establish attractive personal brands, they have been able to attract book deals, speaking engagements, television appearances, teaching gigs, and many other opportunities because they successful branded and marketed themselves as experts in their practice areas.
LM: There seems to be an increase in legal podcasts, in previous years we saw an increase in legal blogs. Do you feel as though podcasts are a big part of the future of legal marketing and why?
NA: I think that with anything, there’s always an ebb and flow. For now, podcasts seem to be having a “moment” but I think that there’s value in any type of content a lawyer decides to create, whether it’s a blog, videos, or a podcast. It all comes down to what the lawyer prefers to do and which mediums suit their personalities. I think that podcasting is a powerful way to not only marketing yourself but to build you brand. Building a brand is a long-term play so understanding that a podcast is not going to bring you business right away should help you decide on which course to take. With that said, a podcast will certainly help establish a solid foundation upon which you can grow your business.
I do think that audio is going to continue growing in popularity because of ease of consumption. People are able to listen to a podcast while driving, running errands, or walking the dog so it is easy to see why it is a preferred method of information consumption for many people. Thus, it would make sense for many lawyers to launch podcasts to market their practices.
LM: Speaking of the future of legal marketing, where do you see the future of the profession in general heading and the influence technology will have on the profession?
NA: I’m not sure I’m the best person to predict where the profession in general is heading but I do know enough to say that technology will certainly continue to play a huge role in shaping the profession. Not only will technology help make our work easier as lawyers and relieve us of the mundane administrative tasks but technology will continue to increase access to justice, which is very much needed.
Admittedly, technology might eliminate certain tasks formerly performed by young associates but I think that the lawyers who are able to master the use of technology will find themselves indispensable and not at risk of losing their jobs.
LM: You were recently invited to speak as part of the Clio Conference. How was that experience?
NA: It was a wonderful experience. It was my first time attending the Clio Cloud Conference. I was so impressed with how well-organized and thoughtful the organizers were. As for my presentation, I felt like I delivered a solid presentation and shared my thoughts on how lawyers can better understand their Millennial clients and colleagues. It was great connecting in-person with many of the attendees I had previously only known online. It was definitely a great experience.
LM: Where can our readers go to learn more about your company and to check out the podcast?
NA: You can connect with me on social media. My favorite platform is Instagram. You can find me at @nic_abboud. You can learn about the business at www.abboudmedia.com. The podcast is called The Gen Why Lawyer Podcast and can be found in Apple Podcasts.