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ANDREW CAO IS A MOBILE LAWYER MAKING REAL ESTATE LAW ACCESSIBLE IN EDMONTON
- SPARK & PONY
- JAKIE NG
Growing a personal brand takes time. It also means distinguishing yourself from the competition. Edmonton-based Lawyer Andrew Cao knows this better than anyone.
Andrew Cao is not your typical real estate lawyer, and that’s by design. Most Edmontonians first recognize him from Facebook, where he distills the convoluted topics of real estate, wills, and estate law into digestible pieces of information that make sense. In fact, social media has played a huge role in his success, making @ThatLawyerGuy one of the most popular online personalities in Edmonton.
Becoming a lawyer was something Cao always wanted to do. Becoming a social media savant came much later in the game.
“I was born and raised in Edmonton, and I went to high school at Ross Sheppard. From there I went to university and I kind of knew going in, I wanted to be a lawyer.”
Cao reached his goal quickly, entering law school in his fourth year at the University of Alberta. After taking several courses in various law specialties, Cao graduated and found himself articling at a small firm downtown, where his primary focus became criminal law.
“I would sometimes pick up some of the accused from jail and take them to court because they didn’t have transportation to get there. You get a lot of calls all hours night and day,” Cao says.
After a few years, Cao landed at his current firm, KBL Law, where he has been for over nine years, having recently been named managing partner.
“I had been asked for many years to do so but finally took the plunge recently. And it’s paid dividends, fortunately. So I’m getting the benefit of all my hard labor.”
CREATING HIS BRAND
KBL is the place where Cao realized his skill set was best suited for real estate and estate law. And in an effort to create a personal brand that stood out from other lawyers practicing in the field, Cao etched out a unique path forward.
The first step was offering out-of-office appointments for clients, at all times of the day.
Yes — even early mornings and weekends.
While other lawyers were making people come to them, Cao decided he wanted to make himself accessible for everyone, at precisely the time they needed him.
“I work around people’s schedules because they have busy lives. For some, they don’t do wills at all because they don’t have the time to do it, or they don’t want to go downtown. So being mobile works out quite well.”
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A SOCIAL MEDIA SAVANT
While being on the road has certainly helped Cao make a name for himself, social media has arguably been his most distinguishing feature. It’s helping him break down the traditional walls that complex subjects like real estate law naturally build up.
“It was Twitter at first, that really took off. I just kind of made an effort to be myself there,” Cao explains.
“So not focusing on being Andrew, who happens to be this lawyer, who’s not accessible. More so, this is Andrew, who likes to eat out and support local businesses and play sports and you know, give the lawyers a rough time.”
Whether that authentic way of being was by design or just happened naturally, the results speak for themselves. Andrew had over 3,500 followers on Twitter and just shy of that on Facebook, his go-to medium for sharing helpful tips with those who might need an easier way to understand the complexities of the law.
“[I asked myself] how can I make the law more accessible to somebody who either doesn’t speak the language very well, doesn’t understand formal language, or doesn’t want to be bothered by reading blogs or magazine articles about something as simple in theory as buying a home.”
Andrew started posting in various local community groups on a hybrid of different subjects until he eventually grew a following.
And as his audience grew, so did his personal brand.
“It was planting the seed, you know?”
“Maybe their first introduction to you is finding you on Twitter. It might be because you have nothing at all to do with law. But you’re a nice person, who happens to like Superman.”
Cao believes that his steadfast commitment to being an authentic person online; someone who is willing to go the distance and offer more value than others in his industry, is what has given him his edge.
“People are trying to save money where they can. My mission has always been ‘how do I make things easier for everybody?’” says Cao.
THE MOST ACCESSIBLE LAWYER IN EDMONTON
Apart from his willingness to travel for clients — including in some cases, outside of Edmonton — is Cao’s desire to help clients be more proactive in the home buying process. That means reviewing documents with them beforehand in order to identify liens or any potential issues that could pop-up on inspection.
“It’s about doing everything I could have conceivably done to make their life easier. Being proactive with these things brings more value to my services, without me actually charging more.”
The best way to reach Cao is by email, he says. But as you might expect, @ThatLawyerGuy is as flexible with how you contact him as he is with everything else he does.
“You can call the office, you can call my cell phone. I pretty much respond immediately. It’s because I care about people and I know how time-sensitive a lot of these things are.”
In fact, his readiness to be there at all hours of the day, still surprises some of his clients.
“I had someone message me at 10, 11 pm the other day, asking about a real estate purchase and I responded immediately. I’m just sitting there watching Netflix, anyways.”
While there are a lot of things to be learned from Cao’s marketing strategy and personal brand development, perhaps the biggest might be that Cao is there when people need him.
That kind of commitment, especially from someone helping you with such an important financial decision, has never been rarer.
When he says accessibility is his goal, he really means it.
“As long as I’m not driving or sleeping, I’m probably going to respond.”