As online branding becomes an increasingly significant factor in law firm marketing strategies, so too are lawyers’ online biographies. Legal marketers often assist lawyers in writing their website bios, while also conforming to their firm’s style guidelines regarding consistency, length and content—a nearly impossible task. Some lawyers prefer a mile-long list of client matters and accolades dating back to the 1970s, while other lawyers are hesitant to add any detail that might reference sensitive client matters. So where do you begin?
Legal marketer Larry Bodine shares five tips to writing lawyer website bios as recommended by Chicago-based marketer Doug Stern.
1) Provide assurance. Display case histories.
2) Be brief. 250 words of anything on a law firm web site is plenty.
3) Avoid jargon and business speak.
4) Humanize yourself with a little description of your personal side.
5) Write web-friendly text. Use bullets, subheads and short sentences to make your bio easy to read.
But on a strategic level, how do you decide whether to market lawyers’ vast experience or highlight only their strengths? In a recent article by Adrian Dayton, the law firm marketing columnist for the National Law Journal, he advises against what he calls the “fruit basket” approach in which law firms market their lawyers as go-to service providers in every practice area under the sun.
Dayton writes, “Potential clients aren’t searching for a firm that can do it all; they want experts who can solve their unique problems.”
Of course, the dilemma of deciding what details to include can be challenging from a marketing perspective. Dayton notes a common, yet limiting fear of focusing a lawyer’s brand on a particular area. “What if someone is looking for a specific type of transaction, and it isn’t in my list?” “What if one of my real estate clients is turned off by my focus on health care?”
While these concerns are understandable, Dayton cautions that most experienced lawyers have similar lists of client matters, so positioning your lawyers as yet “another list” won’t help them. He asks, “What looks better to a potential client, a list of mergers and acquisitions or that in 2011 you closed the largest merger in the state?”
Highlighting the significance of a few key matters is often more compelling than simply listing endless case wins. The same advice applies to writing successful award submissions, as discussed in a recent blog post.
Dayton assures, however, that lawyers don’t have to do away with the list entirely, but he recommends that it simply come later in the bio.