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Thought Leadership for Lawyers

Are you or your legal team seeking to build your client base? Would you like to attract clients, instead of having to chase them? Focus on the type of work you really enjoy?

Then thought leadership is for you.


You studied hard to become a lawyer. Then you worked long hours to learn your craft.

Now’s the time to reap the benefits, earn what you’re worth and do enjoyable work, for clients who appreciate what you have to offer.

Building your client base is essential, whether you're a Senior Associate striving for promotion to partner or a partner wanting to ensure a consistent and growing revenue stream.

But it’s not that easy!

The clients you want don’t automatically come to you. A person won’t send you work just because you happened to meet them at a networking event. Either they have no ongoing need, or they have their own advisers. But at some point a window of opportunity may appear. If they go looking for a lawyer, how will they think of contacting you?

The answer is to position yourself as an expert in your chosen field of practice, so that you will be “top of mind” when someone needs that expertise?

The answer is to become a Thought Leader.

Thought Leadership helps you differentiate yourself from other lawyers. It stops you from being a commodity and elevates yourself out of your category.

A thought leader is a professional who is known for their

• specialist expertise

• deep understanding of the market in which they operate

• unique perspectives and original thinking.

These are the lawyers who are invited to present at industry seminars and conferences, who are regularly published or quoted in the press and who always have new and interesting issues to talk about with their clients, who see them as trusted advisers.

You may be thinking that those people have natural talent, or perhaps that they're just lucky? That "you've either got it, or you haven't" Not true! The skills of thought leadership can be learned.

Your firm becomes a thought leader as a result of its lawyers becoming thought leaders.

How I can help

As a Thought Leaders Mentor I can help you develop yourself as a thought leader in order to build career success. You have unique skills and experience; now leverage those to build your practice. I can help your legal team to achieve competitive advantage through thought leadership.

About me

I’m the only lawyer in Australia offering this program (and one of only two in the world).

I’ve had 17 years’ experience as a practising lawyer, and was a partner of a major commercial law firm. I’ve also been a law teacher, specializing in teaching the practical skills required for legal practice. Further, my experience as a legal recruiter and careers adviser has shown me how critically important it is for lawyers to learn how to build a client base. A client following is the best possible insurance for your legal career!

The skills of thought leadership help you to get published and invited to speak at conferences and seminars. Don't limit yourself to the usual "Legal Updates" - relying on changes to the law as a catalyst. Most other law firms are also reacting to and announcing those changes, so you're constantly in competition with them. Do something different and rise above the pack. Believe me - there is plenty you could be writing and speaking about. I’m a frequently-published author (articles, book chapters and a text book for lawyers) and I speak at conferences in Australia and internationally, so you can draw on my experience to help you succeed in these activities.

What it’s like to work with me

I find that lawyers often see themselves as one of a “type” - e.g. “I’m a property lawyer”. They cannot see what makes them different from other lawyers in their category. As a Thought Leaders Mentor I’m like a mirror to help you see what makes you unique, and how you can leverage that to your advantage. You may feel challenged at first, but if you invest the effort, you will discover new opportunities to elevate your career.

Why I’ve chosen to do this work

I passionately believe that every individual has something special to offer and that you can bring more of yourself to the work you do. I’m fascinated with the infinite variety of ideas and perspectives that are possible when lawyers allow themselves to exercise their originality.

How does it work?

Thought Leadership Development is a unique program that can be delivered by group presentation, individual mentoring, or a combination of both.

Thought Leadership Development goes way beyond presentation skills coaching, Plain English training or editing of articles for publication. It helps lawyers to continually produce timely new content for use in speeches, articles or to engage clients in conversation, and to become known for their original perspectives.

The formal program consists of an Introductory presentation (available in person or by webinar), plus nine modules (take all nine, or pick and mix to suit your priorities), plus mentoring sessions to help you achieve your individual goals.

The nine modules are as follows:


  1. Foresight What is going on around you? Learn to spot new trends that will affect your clients. What is the next big thing in terms of service offerings? How can you better prepare your clients to deal with the future?


  1. Expertise What do you know? You’d be surprised! This goes well beyond knowing what the law says. Draw deeply on your unique experience. Learn to unpack what you know, and find engaging ways of expressing it.


  1. Uniqueness Who are you? You are the product of your own unique upbringing, education and experiences. What’s the personal value proposition that effectively differentiates you?


  1. Comprehension How do others think? Human brains are all differently wired and you receive information through your own preferred channels. Learn how to adapt your approach to get attention from more of the people, more of the time.


  1. Communication How do you share your ideas? Develop your communication skills through telling, showing and asking.


  1. Positioning “What do you do?” What’s your answer, when someone asks you this question at a networking event? Know how to position yourself, your business or your organization so people know exactly what you do and why.


  1. Commitment How do you sell your vision? Learn how to influence others so they engage with your ideas. Build a client following.


  1. Execution How do you launch a concept? Take your great ideas and put them into action.


  1. Pitching How do you invite people to buy? You need to sell your services in a variety of settings, whether in a formal bid process or one-to-one with a potential client. Learn how to invite people to buy you, your business or your ideas more effectively.

Thought Leadership Development is available to both law firms and individuals.

Law firm programs can combine seminars with individual mentoring to embed the skills learned, and to support your lawyers and teams in becoming thought leaders – please ask me for pricing to suit your particular requirements.

For individuals, Thought Leadership Development is provided through private mentoring sessions to help you achieve your individual goals - e.g. you may wish to:

• develop a presentation for a seminar, or

• plan a series of articles for publication, or

• generally build your profile to position yourself as THE go-to lawyer in your chosen field.



To discuss your specific requirements, please call Shelley Dunstone on 8407 3532



“At the International Bar Association Annual Conference in Madrid, Spain, in October 2009, I had the privilege of attending a session on the mentoring and professional development of law firm associates, which was co-sponsored by the IBA Law Firm Management Committee, of which I am the current Chair. I greatly enjoyed Shelley Dunstone's remarks. They were a fast-paced, timely, and entertaining approach to a serious management issue. She is a wonderful speaker, whom I recommend highly to business and professional groups.” Norman Clarke, Walker Clarke, Florida, USA

“As editor at the Law Society Bulletin I was always impressed with Shelley's articles on practice management, as well as her over-riding genuine concern for the SA legal profession and the SA practitioner community.” – Nick Ramage

"Shelley Dunstone's workshop on Thought Leadership was a must for me. It made me aware of the way I think, and I have no doubt that it will help me in my interactions with colleagues, clients and customers." - Rosanne Rositano, Corporate Lawyer.

“Shelley's Positioning workshop was of great value to me and my staff. It provided a thought provoking perspective to what we do, and why we do it - things that you can lose sight of in the rough and tumble of business. I would recommend Shelley and this workshop to every service provider.” – Andrew, Baggio, Principal Baggio Legal

“Shelley's innovative Though Leaders' workshops stimulate innovative thought and encouraged me to think "outside the box" to radically change my thought processes in a systematic way.” - William Chau, Solicitor, Baggio Legal

“Thank you for your enjoyable session; it will allow us to move to the next stage in becoming thought leaders and powerful connectors” – Carolyn Mitchell, Consultant and Mentor, Cowell Clarke

“Shelley had some great practical ideas on how to become a thought leader. She spoke well and was really interesting. Thanks Shelley.” – Andrea Melillo, Tax Lawyer, Cowell Clarke