- Posted by Ed Bean
- On May 14, 2020
- communications, content, law firms
Attorney bios often are the most visited content on law firm websites. A bio may be a prospective client’s first stop before deciding whether to pick up the phone and find out more about the firm or the attorney. Make sure your firm’s bios invite readers to take the next step.
- What’s your story? We like to think of the bio as the attorney’s professional story. What do you do really well? Can I trust you to handle my problem? Am I going to like working with you? Does the bio answer these questions?
- Who is the audience? Some lawyers will say “everybody,” but whether the primary readers are other lawyers such as GCs or referring attorneys, small business owners or C-suite executives makes a big difference in the choice of language and what you choose to highlight.
- Readers want to know one thing. What kind of work do you do really well and who have you done it for? Clients are looking for a good fit for their matter and be as specific as you can in ensuring them this is not your first rodeo. If you can’t name clients, provide safe hints that protect client confidentiality. “Won summary judgment for national retailer facing class-action alleging employment discrimination” tells me you can handle my big threat of employment litigation.
- What’s the differentiator? What makes this attorney a better choice compared to competitors at similar firms? Why should a client hire her? This could be experience, special expertise in a narrow area of the law or experience at a regulatory agency that affects client businesses. Maybe it’s the complementary practice groups at the firm.
- By the numbers. Look for numbers that show the attorney’s experience – number of jury trials, number of transactions of a particular type, aggregate value of transactions or verdicts or claims successfully defended.
- Same but different. All the firm’s bios should follow a pattern in length, tone and order of information. But don’t be dogmatic about it. The goal is to emphasize a lawyer’s strengths, not to fill in the blanks by following the rote progression of a template.
- Style points. Develop a style guide for bios. This is the small stuff – when to use capitalization, policy on honorifics, the Oxford comma. Is it adviser or advisor? The easy way is to default to AP style and carve out exceptions. Inconsistency suggests sloppiness to readers and that is not the impression you want to leave.
- SEO counts. Have an understanding of SEO and drop in trending key words, but ask attorneys what search terms their target audience most likely will use to find them. In highly specialized practice areas these terms may not be trending, but they will grab the attention of the insiders in the industry or practice area where the attorney wants to get the attention of prospective clients.
- Affinities. Some attorneys like to mention personal interests. “When he is not in the office, Mike can be found on the golf course practicing for the next Nashville Bar annual golf tournament, which he has won three times.” If you choose to include this personal information, place it at the end of the bio and keep it short. And think strategically: the purpose is to point out an outside activity that a prospective client finds interesting and suggests an affinity.
- Update. Let lawyers use that old but flattering photo forever but their bio needs a refresh each year. Perhaps a business or legal trend has emerged. New regulations may be creating uncertainty. Or attorneys may want to add matters from the past year that bolster their experience. Read for work capabilities that suggest a bio has not been dusted off in a while, such as a tax credit that is no longer available. Just a few sentences often will bring the bio up to date. The world does not stand still, and neither should attorney bios.
Ed Bean is senior vice president and editorial director at Poston Communications, based in Atlanta.