The About page on your law firm website is probably the second-most visited page. Make sure you do it justice by writing a bio that engages your audience. How you go about writing your bio is not as challenging as you may think — as long as you are willing to approach it correctly.
Your Bio is Not Your CV
A CV, even when done well, is still a laundry list of past employment positions and accomplishments. A list tells people nothing about you as a practicing attorney (and they are, honestly, quite dull). The last result you want from your About page is to lull your readers to sleep.
Unfortunately, most lawyer bios are CVs written out in paragraph. They have no point and no personality. They fail to tell the reader much of anything aside from education and bar admissions.
This is not to say that you cannot include your CV on your site. The best place for it is on your bio page. To include it, upload a PDF version of it to your website and add a link to it on your bio page. But a link is all your CV should be.
The 7 Most Important Items to Include in Your Lawyer Bio
Now that you know what your bio is not, it is time to learn what to include to make you stand out from the crowd.
- Your name and title right up front. Do not make folks work hard to find your full name and the role you play. Hiding this information is irritating for prospects; it will cause them to navigate away from your bio or your website altogether.
- A professional headshot. Prospective clients want to see who they might be working with. Help your visitor connect with you long before they pick up the phone for that initial consultation. Note: this should absolutely be a professional photograph — no selfies allowed. A poorly taken headshot can hurt you as much as not having a picture in the first place.
- A summary of what you do for your clients. Walk your prospects through your process. Tell them what it is like to meet with you. Explain what you will do to help them through their specific problem. The more specific you can get here, the better.
- An explanation of why you do what you do. This gets to heart of why you practice and what gets you energized each day. It does not matter what your answer is as long as it is authentic.
- Highlights of relevant accomplishments or civic engagements. It is a good idea to have a short list of accomplishments and organizations on your bio page. This can include certifications or special awards that prospects can understand or that relate directly to your practice. This does not mean listing every Martindale Hubbell award or mentioning every county bar association you pay to be part of.
- A few bits of personal information. You are more than an attorney. Prospective clients like to see you admit that. Tell them what you do in your free time or the fun activities you partake in with your family. A small snapshot of who you are as a person can go a long way.
- Your direct contact information. List your direct phone line and an email address so prospects can reach you. Offer a downloadable vCard. Offer links to relevant social media profiles, such as your LinkedIn profile or your Twitter account. If you link out to these sites, ensure your profiles are complete and current.
A Note on Length
If you include everything in the above list, you could end up with a bio that is either two paragraphs or ten paragraphs long. Length does not matter. It is all about presentation:
- Format your bio for online readers. Your About page exists on your website, so you should format it like you do all other pages. Use short, succinct sentences and paragraphs. Use bulleted lists where proper. Use headers to break up longer bios. Finally, remember to include links to other relevant areas of your website, including your contact page.
- Proofread your bio. Have someone else proof your bio. Typos on your website quickly eliminate any credibility you have built up.
The best thing you can do for your bio is to bring your personality to the forefront. If you are laid back and casual, then your bio should express that. If you use humor in all you do, make sure it comes through in your bio. As long as you are genuine, whatever you care to share will hit the mark.
Focusing on personality achieves these goals:
- Writing in your own voice and sharing things that you are passionate about means your bio will come easier to you. You will complete it quicker and you will be happier with the outcome.
- Prospective clients often choose an attorney based on whether or not they feel a personal connection. You will make more connections by showing who you are and why you do what you do.
For law firms with more than one attorney, you can create a standard format for your attorney profiles that allow for their personality to shine through. Here’s a great example of a law firm website that has formatted their bio pages in a way that allows some fun:
This bio still has room for improvement. For instance, his practice area concentration is more important than where he went to school, but he lists his concentration last. And he completely lost me with the large blocks of text under the Curriculum Vitaeheader.
The Great Debate
I find they spend more time than they need to necessary on this question: “Should my bio be in first or third person?” You should determine the answer by asking two questions:
- Am I a solo attorney? If yes, stop thinking about it and just write your bio (and all your website copy, for that matter) in first person. If no, move to the second question.
- Who is my audience? If you are writing for a more professional crowd or for individuals with more education, third person works great. On the other hand, if you focus mainly on injury cases or family law matters, you will want to use first person to make more of a personal connection.
While I tend to prefer bios that are written in first person, either approach can make strong connections with your intended audience, if done well.
Writer’s block is a bear to break through. If you find you are still stuck when it comes to getting started on your bio, try starting with one of these options:
- Fill out a short questionnaire. I have created a short professional bio questionnaire for my clients to use when tackling their own bios. There’s nothing fancy here, but it does help get those brain juices flowing.
- Write a haiku. You can use the basics of haiku writing to get you started on the path to a great bio.
- Try Mad Libs. Nicole Fenten offers up a small Mad Libs exercise in her tips on how to write a compelling About page.
Keep It Current
The last thing you want to do is create a great bio that becomes stale with age. To avoid this, schedule calendar reminders to revisit your bio every three-to-six months. Review your photos, practice areas, years of experience, and any other time-sensitive items to ensure you do not lose prospects.
This post originally on Lawyerist.com.