Tips for Writing Effective Attorney Bios
Would it surprise you to know that the majority of visitor traffic to a law firm’s website does not come in through the home page?
It’s true. Only about 4 in 10 visitors enter through the home page. Most visitors enter a law firm’s website through a personal biography page for an individual attorney. Some get there by searching for a specific lawyer’s name, while others searched for a phrase like “Philadelphia tax attorney” and ended up on the bio page for a specific attorney.
These website user statistics should convince today’s law firm leaders that creating an effective website biography page for every individual attorney in a firm can have an immediate, positive impact on both that attorney’s personal book of business and the firm’s bottom line. A personal bio helps interested parties get to know the attorney and validate their legal prowess, long before they pick up the phone to call the firm.
The Importance of Attorney Biographies – The Evidence
How important are attorney bios? Consider the following evidence:
- 90% of in-house counsel rely on attorney bios when researching and hiring outside counsel.
- 83% of in-house counsel ranked lawyer bios as important when researching outside lawyers and law firms.
- 77% of in-house counsel are attracted to content utility / usefulness.
- Attorney bios rank as the second-most important resource when researching lawyers and law firms. The first is recommendations from trusted sources.
- As far back as 2013, nearly 60% of law firm clients said they used online profiles to compare their lawyers to the competition (BTI Consulting).
Attorney Bio Must-Haves
Data tells us the type of information that law firm website visitors expect. Every bio should include a professional headshot, the attorney’s formal name, title (partner, associate, etc.), city and state, detailed contact information and social media links, as long as the profiles are kept up-to-date. Each attorney’s practice areas and industries also should be reviewed for accuracy. Industries change, and attorneys’ practices evolve. Do your web visitor a favor and make sure the info they are looking at is correct.
Attorneys should plan to update their bios at least annually. Review the overview and experience, honors & activities, and insights & presentations to ensure that the most recent accolades and experiences are included. Consider removing those that are more than 10 years old, unless they are significant.
How to Improve Your Bios
Here are some tips for writing effective, personable attorney bios.
Know your audience: As lawyers, it is important to know your legal services buying audience – your current and past clients, prospective clients, and referral sources. While other audiences such as the media, opposing counsel, prospective new hires and your internal audience are important, it is the retention and acquisition audience that you should focus on. Just like you would not address a judge without first knowing their background, or a jury without having conducted voir dire, know your audience and address their wants and needs in your bio.
Heed the 6-second rule: You have six seconds to make a good impression. Use it wisely to differentiate yourself, be concise and specific, unique and memorable. Online readers want short sentences and short paragraphs. Think bullet points. Your bio is not an obituary. Provide just enough information so a client can say: “This person has the skills I need; let’s talk to him/her.”
“I” is okay: It’s permissible and often prudent to use the first-person vernacular, but use it wisely in order to convey how you serve the needs and interest of your clients and understand their industries.
Highlight your industry or practice area: Be sure that your industries or practice areas are obvious and unmistakable to the visitor who only scans the page without fully reading it. GC’s care less about where you went to law school than the recent matters you have handled successfully. Emphasize case studies and victories won for clients to demonstrate your successes.
Repurpose content: There are many places to find valuable content for your bios. Reuse approved client testimonials, review your Chambers rankings, and seek feedback from other attorneys you work with. The favorable things that others have to say about you serve as de facto reviews and testimonials to your legal prowess.
Focus on benefits and demonstrate client service and value: Always remember the adage, “what’s in it for me.” Answer these questions: What differentiates you from other lawyers? What are the benefits of working with you? How do you make your clients’ lives easier? Why should they hire you?
Show, don’t tell: Demonstrate that you are a leader in your field instead of simply stating it. Provide specific examples that illustrate how you are the best lawyer in your field. Demonstrate your knowledge and let your accomplishments speak for themselves. Include client names when relevant and when you have client permission.
Avoid legalese: Use language that your prospects understand. Legal jargon has its place but your bio is generally not it. Read your bio out loud. If it sounds like something you’d never say, then edit it.
Be personable: This is a relationship business. Adding a bit of personality (while remaining professional) to your bio shows that you are human. It’s okay to bring your personality to the forefront. Here are some questions to answer that can help: What made you decide to practice law? What types of matters are you most passionate about? What issues are keeping your clients up at night? What are your greatest strengths as an attorney? Why do your clients like working with you?
Don’t forget the robots: Remember that many “bots” search your bios, too, as they index the web. This is what we call search engine optimization (SEO). Use descriptive language based on how your audience searches for your services. For example, don’t just say “Jane is a lawyer.” Instead, say “Jane is an employment lawyer in Philadelphia.”
Keep it current: A common mistake of attorney bios is to include outdated information which makes you appear out of touch and out of date. Update your bio at least once a year. If you have information in your bio that is compelling but the dates suggest that it is stale, consider removing the dates.
A good bio can help to bring in new business. A bad bio can put you out of the running before you even know you were in it.
This article appeared in Pennsylvania Bar Association Voices & Views Fall 2019 publication. Click here.