Creating an effective attorney bio for your website can have an immediate, positive impact on both your personal book of business and your firm’s bottom line. A personal bio helps interested parties get to know you and validate your legal prowess, long before they pick up the phone to call. But how can you make sure your bio captures your target clients’ attention? Here are tips for writing an effective, credible and personable attorney bio.
Attorney Bio Must-Haves
Data tells us the type of information law firm website visitors expect from an attorney bio. Every bio should include the attorney’s formal name, title (partner, associate), city and state, detailed contact information, and social media links (as long as those social media profiles are kept up to date), and a professional headshot.
Plan to update your bio at least annually. Industries shift and practice areas change. Review the overview and experience, honors and activities, and insights and presentations to make sure your most recent accolades and experiences are included. A common mistake is to include outdated information, which can make you appear out of touch and out of date. If you have information that is compelling but the dates suggest it is stale, consider removing the dates.
Beyond the Basics
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. Once you’ve double-checked your dates and made sure the basic information is accurate, review and revise your bio with the following tips in mind.
1. Know your audience. 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 and prospective new hires, are important, it is the retention and acquisition audience that you should focus on in your bio. Just as 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.
2. Heed the six-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 them.”
3. “I” is OK. It’s permissible and often prudent to use the first-person vernacular, but use it wisely. Convey how you serve the needs and interests of your clients and prospects and that you understand their industries.
4. Don’t make them guess 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. GCs 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. Answer: What do I bring to the table?
5. Repurpose. There are many places to find valuable content for your bio. Reuse approved client testimonials, review your Chambers rankings, and seek feedback from 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. You may even have accolades on LinkedIn that you can repurpose if your state’s ethics rules allow it.
6. Focus on benefits and demonstrate client service and value. 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?
7. 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.
8. Avoid legalese. Read your bio out loud. If it sounds like something you’d never say, then rewrite it.
9. Be personable. This is a relationship business. Adding a bit of personality (while remaining professional) to your bio shows that you are human. Here are some questions to answer that can help bring out your personality: 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?
10. Mind the robots. Remember that many “bots” search your bios, too, as they index the web. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. 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.” (