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What Makes a Good Lawyer Biography?

The bio or “About” page is one of the most viewed pages on a lawyer’s website. On social media, the bio or profile helps new connections or potential followers make decisions about whether or not to interact with you. Your “elevator speech” is your spoken bio and it can make or break a new relationship with a potential client or referral source. But despite its importance, the bio is an often overlooked marketing tool, and many lawyers give it short shrift.

Elements of a Good Biography

Your website bio, online profile and your spoken introduction (“elevator pitch”) are just different forms of marketing messages about you, and they should follow the same rules that apply to all good marketing messages. At its most basic, a good bio addresses:

  • • Who you are
  • • How you got where you are
  • • What you do now, for whom and why
  • • Where you are going/what you anticipate for the future (particularly with reference to your clients)

Essentially, your bio is a snapshot of you and your business.

But even though your bio is about you, it is not written for you – it is written for the people you want to read it (or even better, to contact you after they read it). And that means it has to address what is important to them – what they most want to know. This isn’t necessarily the same as what you think they should want to know.

Therefore, your bio should also include some form of the following:

  • Identification of your target audience
  • A discussion of that audience’s most common problems or challenges
  • Your solution (how you help clients or solve that problem for them)
  • How your solution is different

Common Lawyer Bio Mistakes – And How to Fix Them

What are the most common mistakes lawyers make when developing their biographies? Read on to learn what they are and what you can do about it.

Forgetting about the client

It’s your about page, but it’s not all about you. Make it about the problems you solve for your clients. Speak to their concerns. Use the “so what” test on your online bio or about page – put yourself in the shoes of your client and then ask, “Why would I care about this?” “Does this address my main concerns?”

Leading with your education

Your clients don’t really care where you went to school – although the fact that you are actually credentialed is certainly important. You’ll want to include your education in your bio somewhere and make that information available to potential clients, but there’s no need to lead with it – it definitely isn’t what is most important to clients. And the more experience you have (and the longer you’ve been practicing), the less important your education is to the client.

Leading with labels

Labels, such as “lawyer” or “securities lawyer” often have misconceptions or preconceptions attached to them, and may turn your audience off before they hear your message. Some labels may even be confusing or even completely foreign to your audience. Instead, talk (or write) about the people you help and the problems you solve. Once people are engaged, the label won’t matter as much.

Not including a photo…

…or including a bad photograph or one that doesn’t represent you as you currently appear. Photos are becoming so common on the internet, particularly on ‘profile,’ ‘about’ or ‘attorney’ pages that if your photo isn’t there, it may look like you’re hiding something. Remember – people do business with people they know, like and trust. Posting a photograph helps your audience feel that they ‘know’ you.

Hiding your contact information – or completely leaving it out

If the whole purpose of posting your bio online and participating in social networking is to build your business and broaden your network, make it as easy as possible to contact you. Provide several options for contact. Some clients don’t like to use the telephone and would prefer email. Make both available on your contact page, and include your firm address if your clients tend to be local, but don’t forget to include that information on your bio page as well.

Forgetting the call to action

If your audience is engaged, keep the relationship moving forward – don’t leave them stranded when they reach the end of your bio. Tell them where they should go or what they should do next. Include a call to action, whether that is a link to the practice area page that tells more about how you help your clients, or a suggestion that they call you for a consultation (with your telephone number).

Not including links to other profiles 

Depending on the purpose and location of your profile and your target audience, don’t forget about linking to your other online profiles. This is especially true if the profile we’re talking about is on a social media site and if your audience are typically heavy social media users. And certainly don’t forget to link those social media profiles back to your website (and maybe directly to your bio or about page).

Boring, resume-style or legalese-filled bio

Don’t fill your bio or about page with industry jargon and legalese unless you’re sure that your clients understand and appreciate it. If they don’t talk that way, you shouldn’t talk that way when you are speaking to them in your bio. Use the language your clients use to describe their legal problems. And don’t be a cliché: every law firm says they are a ‘quality’ law firm where ‘service is a top priority.’ Be different. Be interesting. (See my blog post, “Is Your Law Firm Website Just a Cliche?”)

Too one-dimensional

Make your About page or bio multi-dimensional, if possible – especially on social media sites which cater to multi-media. Everyone learns differently, so offer all different styles of information about you: text, audio, video, photos – it’s all worthwhile.

Is it time for you to review and update your bios – whether online or off?

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Comments

  1. I agree. Good guidelines. I chose to do mine as if it were an “open” letter to prospective clients. But I have not loaded a photo yet.

  2. Some great thoughts, Allison. Most of these would apply to any professional, not just lawyers. I am going to have to take a closer look at my own bios!

    Another piece to think about–either from the beginning or later–are keywords that are going to help drive up the profile’s ranking in Google search results. Figuring out what people are searching for and having those words appear in the bios would be useful. You caution against leading with labels, but it is good to include some of the key areas of business within the description. And researching how people are searching for those terms–and using the specific wording they are most likely to search with–could help drive search engine traffic to the bio.

    Google still favours content written for people, so best to write it all out as you suggest first, and then find opportunities to “tweak” with specific wording would probably be a good way to go.