Your professional biography is one of the most important pieces of copy you’ll ever write about yourself. It’s your opportunity to showcase your work, capabilities, and areas of expertise and what makes you stand out from your competitors.
Many in-house counsel cite lawyer bios as one of the most important sources of information regarding researching outside lawyers (everyone is Googling you and your bio is usually the number one search result of your name). In addition, lawyer bios are among the most trafficked pages on law firm web sites.
Your bio can serve as an important business development tool if it is well-crafted. Yet within the legal industry, so many bios are still lackluster, outdated, not client-focused or just poorly written.
Here are my top tips for creating a strong, engaging bio that concentrates on the client-centric, show vs. tell concept.
The main purpose of a bio is to persuade potential clients to become clients and to reinforce to existing clients and referrals – that you are the very best at what you do in your respective area. Clients want to know how you can help them, period. Most of them don’t care about the specific details on your resume – they want to know about your specific experiences and if you can jump right into their matters and solve their legal issues.
Showing vs. Telling
Delving further into the show vs. tell concept, provide give specific examples that show how you are the best litigator or transactional lawyer in your field without throwing in the kitchen sink (remember that brevity is best when it comes to writing for the web – you do not want your bio to print out to be 15 pages), representing your knowledge, illustrating your industry and practice experience. Your goal is to be humble and to find ways for your accomplishments to speak for themselves through your body of work.
Downplay your awards and recognitions, and aim to write them in way that they support and illustrate your work, or to use them to focus on your clients instead. Either include them in a separate sidebar section linked to the bio or include them as the last paragraph.
Here’s the CliffsNotes version of my client-centric bio tips:
- Use short, succinct sentences and paragraphs – less is actually much more
- Use bulleted lists to break up lists of matters/experience but only include the most important representative matters and write about them in client-centric terms
- Organize text with subheadings by industry or area – think about what would make the most sense to the reader
- Avoid repetition by mixing up sentence structure
- Don’t write in legalese and don’t rehash your resume
- Cite specific examples with targeted keywords to enhance SEO
- Add examples where you did something that was “first of its kind” or “groundbreaking”
- Don’t bore readers with overused phrases, similar sentence construction, clichés (i.e. “depth and breadth” or “deep bench”)
- Add articles and speaking engagements to boost subject-matter expertise (but don’t go back to the beginning of time)
- Be discreet with awards and honors
- Showcase community involvement
- Always think client-centric and show vs. tell and you will always be on the right path
- Update your bio regularly (at least every six months)
- Don’t cut and paste your web bio to your LinkedIn profile – you will look like you have no idea how to use social media
- Regularly proofread your bio – nothing is worse than spending all this time creating a great bio just to find out that you have typos in it
Show How Much You Care
I can’t stress enough the importance of #10 on the list above: “showcase community involvement.”
Clients really do care if their lawyers are engaged and giving back to the communities in which they live and work through nonprofit, volunteer or pro bono work. These are the kinds of activities that you want to actively promote in your bio, on LinkedIn and on your social media networks.
Good works and shared interests can be powerful connectors in building potential relationships with clients and referral sources. As the most viewed section of a law firm web site, your bio can serve as a great resource to help you effectively convey this information.
Adopting a Client-Centric, Show vs. Tell Mindset is Always the Right Answer
Your lawyer bio, as well as every single piece of content generated by your firm, should always be written with your clients in mind. So always use language your clients understand. Always think about showing versus telling. And always write it thinking about why someone should hire you and what is unique about you. Keeping these concepts in mind will help you stand out from the thousands of average lawyer biographies.