If you or your law firm has a website, you are sure to have a biography or profile page on the site. When is the last time that you updated your website or more specifically, your detailed biography? For most attorneys, it’s probably been a few years. Let’s face it. You’ve been busy! Moreover, even if you take the time to update your biography you are not able to make the changes to the web pages all by yourself. You need to get your webmaster to make the changes and that takes both time and money.
Well, what’s the opportunity cost of not keeping your website and profile current? Did you know that attorney bios are the most viewed pages on a law firm’s website? That profile or biography pages generate more than 50% of the page views on your site?
Stop and think for a moment. Why would a visitor to your website be so interested in reading your biography? Well, what you do and who you are can make for very interesting reading. When a consumer is in need of legal services, it’s often a very traumatic time in their life. Perhaps they had a serious car accident or are getting divorced. They know that they need help but do not necessarily know where to go.
Legal services has historically been a referral based business. In fact, that’s probably how you or your law firm get most of your business. Did you know that a study commissioned by the American Bar Association concluded that the market for legal services should be 50% bigger but that many people elect not to retain a lawyer because the process is too confusing or intimidating? The study is entitled LEGAL NEEDS AND CIVIL JUSTICE – A Survey of Americans – Major Findings From the Comprehensive Legal Needs Study and is well worth reading.
So it certainly seems that your addressable market could be significantly larger if the process of hiring a lawyer were less confusing and intimidating. Addressing this problem begins with improving your biography. So what are the things that you can do to acquire new clients?
#1 – MAKE IT FRESH
If you’ve recently settled a big case, written an article or changed something in your career, take the time to update your biography. Everyone likes to read fresh and relevant content. More often than not, an attorney biography has not been updated in quite some time. Even worse, some biographies read like a legal version of War & Peace. They simply go on and on and on and on and on. If you’ve been out of law school for 10 years, is it really important to list some of your accomplishments while in school such as you were the Editor of the School’s Law Journal? Keep your biography fresh and it will be much more interesting for your readers.
#2 – DON’T TRY TO BE “ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE”
Even if you are a General Practitioner, keep in mind that old adage: Jack of all trades, MASTER OF NONE”. Be honest with yourself. While you may be capable of doing many different things, identify the things where you feel that you really excel. How you market yourself does not necessarily have to match how you practice law. While you may find yourself handling a broad range of legal services, it is always a best marketing practice to concentrate or focus your pitch. As you are writing your detailed biography, keep in mind the concept of the Elevator Pitch. Imagine yourself as being in an elevator with a potential client and having only the time that it takes for the elevator to go from the ground floor to the 10th floor to tell this client about who you are; what you do; and why you are the right attorney to handle their case.
#3 – PRESENT YOURSELF AS BOTH A PERSON AND A PROFESSIONAL
One of the most common mistakes that lawyers make is that they try and oversell themselves as a legal professional yet fail to present themselves as an interesting human being. The potential client who has a case that is expected to go on for many months or many years is going to want to retain an attorney with whom they can build a relationship. While it’s certainly important for you to have all of the necessary legal skills to handle their case, it can be more important for the client to feel comfortable when engaging with you.
According to a study done by LinkedIn who has 187 million members worldwide, “People with photos are seven times more likely to have their profiles viewed”. Getting the potential client to view your page and read your profile is the first step towards acquiring a new client. Without a photo, it’s very likely that you won’t even be in the game.
You want to find a balance between looking professional and relaxed. If you are able to present several photos, then you should select at least one photo that shows you in action on your job and one that shows how you are in your personal life.
Highlight those things that make you interesting as a person. If you speak another language and/or have experience living or working in another country, include these things in your biography. Perhaps you are an avid skier or tennis player. Or maybe, you spend some of your spare time in the garden or in the kitchen. Give your reader something that will help them to get to know you outside of the office.
We are not trying to suggest that a client is going to retain you simply because you are a gourmet chef. The point is that many potential clients are intimidated by attorneys. They believe that lawyers can be unapproachable. If you are able to find some common ground with your potential client that will help to break the ice, you have a much better chance of closing the deal.
LEGAL BISTRO OVERVIEW
Legal Bistro is a new online community for legal services where we bring together lawyers seeking new clients with customers who have legal needs. The client remains anonymous throughout the entire process of reviewing and selecting an attorney. Lawyers, on the other hand, are provided with many online tools to sell themselves and build online credibility with their potential Clients.
Legal Bistro profile matches your Areas of Practice and any Tag or Key Words that you used to further define your specialized expertise with the specific case needs of the consumer. We are not a lawyer referral service and do not do anything other than our matching process to encourage a consumer to retain one lawyer over another. It is up to you to sell yourself. The first part of your sales process occurs online.
LEGAL BISTRO – ATTORNEY SHORT PROFILE
Your Legal Bistro Short Profile is the first thing that a consumer will see when they search for attorneys matching their specific case needs. The Short Profile includes the following:
- Your Photo – Without a photo, it’s very likely that your profile will not either be seen or read by your potential client.
- Title – Partner, Associate, etc.
- Law Firm Name
- Area of Practice – Your profile will only be displayed if your Area of Practice matches the case needs of the potential client.
- Elevator Pitch – This is the most important component of your short profile. It’s what the client will read about you to decide whether or not they have any further interest. You have only five (5) lines to convince your potential client why you are the right lawyer or law firm to handle their case so make every word count. Your primary objective is to get the client to click on your profile and read more about you in your Detailed Biography.
- Detailed Biography Link – Your potential client Will be able to quickly access and read your Detailed Biography if you have completed this part of your registration process on Legal Bistro.
- Recommendations Badge – Establishing online trust begins with obtaining Professional Recommendations from other colleague lawyers; business professionals and clients. You may also obtain Personal Recommendations from family members and friends. Keep in mind that according to a 3rd Qtr study by Nielsen – Global Trust in Advertising – “70% trust consumer opinions that are posted online”.
- Publications Badge – Establishing online credibility (i.e. presenting yourself as a subject matter expert) can be achieved by posting articles that you have written to your profile; by also copying the article content and creating a posting on Legal Bistro’s Blog; and/or by writing a new Blog Posting. Earn your Publications Badge so that potential clients may read further about your specialized areas of knowledge or expertise. Keep in mind that 65.5% of people making purchases online have their purchasing decisions influenced by Bloggers (Media Burst – 2012).
The following screen shot is an example of what your Short Profile would look like on Legal Bistro:
Legal Bistro provides you with all of the tools that you may need to create a professional looking Detailed Biography. You have the ability to change font sizes, text colors and even insert images and photos. The editing tools which we provide will enable you to publish a very professional web page with your biographical information.
Keep in mind the importance of first impressions. Without a well developed and professional looking Detailed Biography, it’s unlikely that you will get the chance to speak with the potential client who learned about you online. With more than 50,000 law firms and 1.2 million practicing lawyers in the United States, it’s fair to say that you are facing a great deal of competition.
The good news is that the Internet can become the Great Equalizer for you and/or your law firm. The larger and more established law firms have significant resources and a long standing reputation which they are able to leverage. As a smaller law firm or a solo practitioner, it’s most important for you to invest the time into creating a professional looking biography. By doing so, a potential client will want to learn even more about you and hear what you might have to say about their case.
Whether you are writing your biography for your own website or when registering on Legal Bistro, we suggest that you consider using some or all of the suggestions that have been presented in this posting. Put yourself in the role of the person who will be reading your biography and think about what you would find interesting about yourself. As a highly educated professional, you should have very little difficult convincing your prospective client that you have the legal skills required to handle their case. The $64,000 question – Are you able to do as good of a job in getting that potential client to trust and confide in you? If you are able to find some common ground with your potential client, you should be able to succeed at both objectives.
Good luck and try to have some fun when writing your own biography. It will show in the finished product!