Attorney biographies are the most significant pages on a law firm's website. That's not me talking-that's what prospective clients say. According to the Wicker Park Group, in fact, 90% of general counsel agree that attorney bios are the most important pages.
This shouldn't be a revelation. In the end, the old adage remains true: clients hire attorneys, not firms. And bio pages are the best place to get information about individual attorneys. It's no wonder, then, that attorney bios generate over half the traffic to law firm websites, as Adrian Dayton has noted.
On these critical pages, one would expect to find web copy that pulls the reader in, informs, and excites. Instead, readers often get a snoozefest.
How can bad bios be fixed? Here are three steps that will go a long way:
1. Make the Lawyer a Real Person
You don't have to give us the attorney's life story, but add a taste of the lawyer's persona. A 45-second video interview works wonders, or simply sprinkle a few personal details in the text. Another effective trick: have your attorneys give lighthearted answers to a few standard questions ("What's your daily routine?"; "Favorite vacation spot?"; etc.) to run in a sidebar.
2. Make Networking Easy
Include prominent links to attorneys' LinkedIn, Twitter, or JD Supra pages right on their bios. Doing so makes it easy to take the next step toward hiring - investigating the attorney's network and making contact.
3. Describe the Attorney's Practice Meaningfully
Don't tell us the attorney has experience in competition law; tell us that she has represented 12 defendants in criminal cartel matters before the UK's Office of Fair Trading. If you read a few bios, you can almost sense the author's fear. They toss in all kinds of practice areas, scared of turning off anyone. They end up with mush.
Go with specifics instead. Your attorney's experience is not going to match up precisely with the needs of every prospective client. That's okay. It's far more important to give them a true sense of who the attorney is.
And to keep them awake while doing so.
John Hellerman is a Partner at Hellerman Baretz Communications and a proud supporter of the LMA Capital Chapter.
This is the start of a real bio, typical of those on AmLaw 100 websites:
"[Partner X] represents public and private companies and financial institutions in a wide range of transactions, including mergers, acquisitions and divestitures; joint ventures; domestic, international and cross-border structured financial transactions; commercial real estate development, leasing and finance; leveraged leasing . . ."
This text tells us virtually nothing about Partner X. Worse, even the short snippet above makes for a painful reading experience. You can almost hear the general counsel clicking away.