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Episode 65 — Legal Thought Leaders: LIVE from the EVOLVE Summit

"Your brand is your life. It's not a separate thing. It's everything. Everything you do is consistent with your brand. That intentional process that you've gone through has led you to a place: you know what your purpose is, and you're living out your purpose." - Joe Fried

  • Why authenticity is key to good branding
  • How to find your niche
  • Why you can't be afraid to call out the system
  • How to create change in the legal profession

An All-Star Cast

Brought to you LIVE from the EVOLVE Summit, you'll hear from a diverse panel of experts who have climbed to the top of their industries. These game changers are here to share their advice on business, branding, and improving the industry.

We're joined by Judy Smith, crisis management expert and professional fixer who's counseled presidents, global leaders, and Fortune 50 CEOs for over 25 years. You may know her as the inspiration for the hit TV show “Scandal.”

We're fortunate to have Sara Williams of Alexander Shunnarah Injury Lawyers joining the lineup. Sara is a rising star in the legal world and mentors young trial lawyers, uplifting women of color and working to make the legal world more equitable.

Alongside Judy and Sara is legal industry staple Harlan Schillinger, who helped shape the world of legal marketing and has been a leading voice in it for over 40 years.

The panel is rounded out by Joe Fried, America's preeminent trucking attorney who’s earned nearly $1B for clients across 30 states. He spends much of his time educating lawyers, judges, and politicians about trucking safety issues, with 500 presentations under his belt in the last 10 years.

Get Real

All four stress the importance of authenticity in creating your personal brand. For Sara Williams, that means not following the trends, sticking to your values, and "being true to who you are."

Not only does it set you apart (because you are unique) — it establishes credibility. Harlan says, "Talk to the public the way you talk to a jury. You can't fool a jury. You have to be authentic."

Judy stresses that being authentic creates trust between you and your clients, which is essential in a business where each client places their future in their lawyer’s hands.


These game changers haven't just worked to the top of their fields; they've changed them along the way. Sara is transforming legal events by refusing to come if there isn't adequate representation. As she tells it, "There were some folks who said, ‘You really need to be careful about what you say. You’re kind of ruffling feathers.’ But we are not going to affect change if we are worried about whether or not I get invited to speak somewhere."

Joe makes a difference by sharing his knowledge, since change can't happen by himself. "My philosophy is I don't keep anything to myself. If I learn something — even something that's going to create an edge for me — I'm teaching it and giving it away because we need to build armies to do it. That's the way we make a difference."

Key takeaways:

  • Don't try to yell louder than the next guy. Have something unique to say.
  • Be patient. Building a brand doesn't have immediate returns, but it pays off in the long run.
  • Be intentional, but get comfortable with ambiguity. You have to have a strategy, but at the same time, you won't be able to pinpoint which video or billboard, or conference led to you landing a case. At the end of the day, it's the totality of those efforts that bring in cases.

Links and Resources