What’s In A Name

I joined Twitter in 2009. Like everyone does, I picked a username that matched who I was at the time. Time passes and people change, their digital identities often lagging behind.

I had a wonderful opportunity to job shadow with a local firm for two days this past week, and one of the suggestions I received was to consider changing my Twitter handle. Chaos and the law don’t exactly compliment each other.

It’s a good suggestion, and it starting me thinking about personal branding in a way previous school presentations about “cleaning up your Facebook page” hadn’t. Our name or even our e-mail address are the first thing potential employers learn about us, and the solicitor giving the advice was right – my digital identity no longer matched who I am and where I’m going.

But as I starting researching and thinking about alternatives, I noticed my hackles raising. I didn’t want to change my online identity to reflect only one aspect of my personality, did I? What about all my followers who connect with me through my work on Cast of Wonders, or my personal friends, or all the people I’ve met tweeting along to television shows and video game play-throughs?

I encountered a similar situation a few weeks previously. I created an online profile for a summer placement application. One of the sections was a brief (200 character) text box to describe my role model. The entire remainder of the profile was CV and employment history based, and so I took this only opportunity to showcase my personality by describing why I have a poster of Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk, in my office.

A few days later, the administrators of the site contacted me and pointed out that my selection didn’t set a professional tone in keeping with the remainder of my application.

Again, raised hackles.

Training contract applications frustrate me with their seeming contradictory nature. Career advisers tell us the goal is to have the same (or better) qualifications as everyone else: excellent university, high academic achievement, top-notch work experience, etc. And on top of that, distinguish yourself. Show how you’re an individual.

Just don’t be TOO individual, like referencing a fictional superhero / lawyer as your role model…

But I don’t agree. One of the other important skills solicitors need to develop is commercial awareness. Not just building our individual brand, like choosing a new Twitter handle, but engaging with the news, developments and players in industries we are passionate about.

The skills I use to keep up on the trends and stories in the genre fiction and video game industries are just the same as those used by someone who watches the commodities market or the energy sector. Passionate engagement doesn’t change with brand loyalty, be that to a sports franchise or a comic book movie universe. Especially in geek culture heavy industries like intellectual property, technology and media. And since I can articulate that in a relevant, professional way, why shouldn’t I showcase my legal skills and personal passions at the same time?

I named this blog Project Valkyrie for a variety of reasons. It was partially based on Elizabeth Bear’s own use of the term when she was starting a new health routine the same time as I was. As a fellow climber, I resonated. Valkyries are from Norse mythology, warrior women who protect the honorable dead as they travel to Valhalla. On six-legged horses, no less. They’re powerful protectors, ensuring their charges reach their heavenly reward – a nice image for a lawyer. And because the Green Valkyrie is my favorite of the Gauntlet characters. Not to mention Jennifer’s own affinity for the shade.

One part protector and guide, one part kick-butt warrior woman, one part retro 80’s gaming reference.

All @LegalValkyie.

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Published in: on February 22, 2014 at 18:31  Leave a Comment  

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