In 2012, Jordan Furlong wrote a blog post for Stem Legal spotlighting a firm that had the best law firm bios in the world. He was talking about Marque Lawyers, a full service firm in Sydney, Australia that took a fully human approach to the development of their attorney profiles. If you visit their website, you'll see they market themselves as a firm that does law differently, and their profile pages do a great job of promoting that difference. As a result, the bios signal major brand differentiation - they're memorable and speak to the firm's culture.
Their attorney photos are professional, but warm, bright, colorful, relaxed, and seem more like really good selfies than what we typically see on firm bios.
The individual bios are just as warm and creative and say things like:
Our first summer clerk to both survive and become a Marque lawyer, Rachel wears the sash and tiara with pride and has settled very comfortably into the Litigation team where she owns the firm record for bankrupting the most defendants in one day. She has a lot of experience in franchising and contractual disputes, and excellent contacts in every court registry in the country. There's no convincing her that "actually" is not a relative term, but everyone needs an idiosyncracy….
You can see straightaway that the bios are highly original, short, creative, fun, interesting, enjoyable, and most importantly, human. What’s more, in the comments of the Stem Legal piece, the person who wrote the bios said they're quite popular and accurately represent not only the attorneys, but the firm’s goal of being different.
Do you have to be this creative and fun when designing your attorney profiles? Well, statistically, attorney bio pages are generally some of the most visited pages on a firm’s website. In fact, Michael Bradley, the managing partner of Marque Law said in the comments of the Furlong post:
Did you catch that? Their analytics show that their website visitors average 8 page views per visit, and stay for an average of 4 minutes! Talk about impressive. Their bio pages are actually working for them by pulling in readers and keeping them interested enough to stay and look around.
You don’t have to be this outside the box when developing your profiles, but you most certainly should be doing something with those pages to help you stand out. Think of it like this, when visitors come to your site, they already know that you -
- went to college
- have a law degree
- are a practicing attorney
You don’t have to tell them again in your bio. Odds are, reading that you graduated with honors does little to impress your readers, because they're more interested in how you're going to help them achieve their goals than what you achieved in school.
Your bio is your introduction to the client, it's not a page where you simply list your achievements. Your potential clients don’t want to see a resume on your bio page, they read your bio to get to know who you are, decide if they like you, and if they can trust you. Your potential client wants to know that you will hear what they have to say, understand their needs, and help them reach their goals. Does your bio speak to those needs in a way that helps your potential clients like and trust you?
Food for Thought - Don’t Be a Cookie Cutout
Many years ago, before the internet, I went through a divorce. My husband and I agreed the divorce was best for us, and we sat together and equally divided our possessions and obligations. We were young, poor, childless, and owned very little property. There was no animosity between us, it was a most simple divorce. Neither one of us had any interest in filing the papers ourselves, we wanted to find an attorney to review what we had done and handle the paperwork. I would hire the attorney to represent me, and he would sign the official documents representing the agreements we wrote out on paper.
I grabbed the phonebook and started calling divorce attorneys and scheduling meetings. I went into the attorney search thinking it would be easy, but it actually took a long time to find the right lawyer. It seemed most of the lawyers I interviewed didn’t agree with our simple terms. It actually took longer to find a lawyer than it took for the divorce to be filed and finalized.
If I were searching for a divorce attorney today, I would go about it in a completely different way. I would develop a very short list of attorneys that I would be willing to interview, and that list would be built from information on the web. If I was looking for an attorney in your field of practice, how would your bio help your firm get on my list?
What does your bio say that sets you apart from all other attorneys? If you have a cookie cutter bio that is pretty much the same as every other divorce attorney, how will I know what makes you different? How would I know what makes you better suited than other attorneys to meet my needs? Would I care that you graduated Cum Laude? Nope. Would I care that you have tons of awards? Not unless they have to do with my situation. Would I care that you handle divorce cases differently for different situations? Yes. That you are sensitive to the needs of your clients, and work to maintain the integrity of the family unit, even as it splits in half? Yes. That you believe there is no divorce formula, and that you are willing to educate me, guide me, and protect me from unknowingly shooting myself in the foot while I work to achieve a divorce from a man who was still my friend? Yes. And if your bio conveys that kind of information about you, my search would end right there, and you would have a client before you even knew my name.
Creating an Effective Profile and Biography
Keating Muething & Klekamp has very nice attorney profile pages. The look and feel is clean with a lot of white space, the profile images are professional, and the content is well written and informative. However, some of the bios attached to the pictures simply list the attorney’s area of practice and awards. This bio is for a partner attorney at the firm. Does it give enough information for you to really feel like you're being introduced to the attorney? Does this bio help you determine who the attorney is? Does it help you decide if you like the attorney? Does this bio increase your level of trust in this attorney? Would he make your short-list of attorneys that you would contact based on your (hypothetical) corporate need?
The bottom line is that your bio needs to really reflect who you are, not just what you do. It should say who you are professionally and personally, and why you're the best attorney for my needs. It should showcase your professional achievements from a personal perspective. Show your reader your passion, your charisma, and your strengths, and you'll probably find that your bio page will begin to work for you, too.