We’ve previously discussed the importance of having an up-to-date website for your firm. Now, we turn to one of the most crucial aspects of your firm’s site: your bio.
Without a doubt, the lawyer bio section will be one of the most visited pages on your site. Prospective clients will do their research and look at your bio before they contact you. Perhaps a potential client found your firm based on a search of a practice area or a specific legal problem. If so, they will likely look at the bios of multiple lawyers at the firm before they figure out who best to call. Likewise, a client may have come to your site because they read a blog or something else you wrote or simply because they Googled your name. Whatever the case, they will read your biography to find out more about you.
Other lawyers will also be reading your bio. Certainly, opposing counsel will take an opportunity to read about you before they encounter you in court, at an arbitration, a meeting or in any other context. Outside of that, other lawyers may also read more about you before offering referrals.
Your bio is a critical element of your online presence, and your best opportunity to make a good first impression. With that in mind, here are a number of “biography best practices” to consider.
Write for your Audience
Your bio will be one of the first points of contact a prospective client will have with you. Put yourself in a potential client’s shoes – they are reading your bio because they have a specific legal issue they need help with. They care more about how you can help them with their problem than about where you went to law school or what other jurisdictions you may be licensed to practice in. They want to know if you have the relevant knowledge and experience to guide them through their legal dilemma. Your bio is not the place to list things that matter only to other practitioners. It should list things that matter to clients. While your degrees and any awards you may have won do deserve mention in your biography, many lawyers miss the opportunity to emphasize precisely why a particular degree or award matters to their practice, and therefore why it should matter to clients.
We’ve spoken before about the importance of having a well-developed value proposition as a firm. The same concept applies to the individual lawyers within that firm. Your bio is the ideal means through which you can differentiate yourself. A client wants to know why they should retain you, not the lawyer down the street. What can you do for them that your competition cannot? What is the specific benefit(s) you bring to the table? Draft your bio with these questions in mind.
Don’t Be Boring
A majority of lawyer profiles read in the same (dry and boring) way. You can still remain professional without sticking to the mundane bio style that most firms seem to have adopted. Show prospective clients your human side. Tell your story. Explain why you became a lawyer, or why you chose your practice area. Include some anecdotes, and maybe some humour. Tell them what you like to do in your spare time (unless that’s not safe to publish online!). Lead with that, not the generic things other lawyers tend to lead with. Above all, remember to write like you speak. Your bio is not a Supreme Court factum or memo to your Managing Partner.
Other Biography Best Practices
- Include a recent, professionally taken photo: as we’ve discussed previously, recent, high-quality photos are important to include on a firm’s website. Make sure the photo that accompanies your bio actually looks like you. You want your client’s first online impression of you to match what they see when they finally meet you in person. If you are wearing a double-breasted suit or sporting a mullet in your current picture, it’s time for a new one.
- Include all your contact info: think about how to make it easiest for people to contact you. Always include your office telephone number (or numbers if you practice out of multiple offices/locations), your email address, a fax number, and the number/email of your assistant(s).
- Include links to your social media accounts (Twitter, LinkedIn, a blog, etc.): make your full online presence known to your clients, especially if you are active online and update your various accounts regularly. If you do not have social media accounts, consider setting them up or ask us to! At Umbrella Legal Marketing, we offer a full suite of online marketing services, including social media management.
- Consider including a video bio: some forward-thinking firms have begun using video bios instead of, or in addition to, photos. Even more than high-quality images, video is an effective engagement tool for prospective clients. Studies have shown that more than 70% of clients want to get a feel for what a lawyer is like before they retain them. A video biography is an excellent way to showcase not only what a lawyer looks like, but also how he/she carries himself/herself, how they speak, and how they present themselves.
- Consider including presentations, papers, or other resources you have written or created: make sure that these are recent and still relevant, and update these frequently. A lawyer who regularly publishes or presents papers, articles or blogs gives the perception of being important, relevant and in the know (ie. an expert).
- Consider including client testimonials: positive reviews from clients you have previously helped can be a hugely valuable addition to your bio and an excellent way to highlight your value proposition. Be certain to comply with the Law Society’s rules governing the marketing of legal services.
Remember, your biography will be the first impression a prospective client will have of you. Distinguish yourself from your competitors, highlight your particular knowledge and expertise, create a personal connection, and give that potential client a reason to contact you.
At Umbrella Legal Marketing, we help firms stand out in today’s crowded and changing legal landscape. We regularly advise clients on all aspects of their online presence, including how to craft a compelling biography and develop a solid value proposition. Our portfolio of services helps firms build brand awareness and cultivate relationships, with the ultimate goal of growing their business. Contact us by email or at 416-356-4672.