Depending on how you execute it, your website’s attorney bio page can become a powerful client conversion tool for your firm, or send prospective clients running for the hills. The content and design of the page really is important. Consumers understandably want to learn more about an attorney, before deciding to turn over their legal futures to that person, and your website bio page is one of the most important impressions you’ll make on a prospective client. That’s why we’ve brought in an expert to help guide lawyers in creating the perfect website bio.
Meet Rodney Warner
Warner is a creator of website content and marketing material for law firms across North America. He has a strong understanding of what the legal consumer cares about and wants to see from website content, something he demonstrated when he was recently a guest in our “Let’s Talk Legal Marketing” blog series. In this post, we asked him to zero in on attorney website bio pages. Check out some of Warner’s legal marketing tips below.
How much do website bios really matter for lawyers?
Rodney Warner: They should matter a lot. Would you hire an attorney without researching his or her background or finding out what experience they have? We live in a time where we research which restaurant to try and what smartphone to buy. If someone’s been seriously injured, arrested for DUI or getting a divorce, they’re not going to research which attorney to retain? If the SEO planets are aligned, an internet search for a specific type of attorney may also result in an attorney bio at least near the top of the first page.
What should attorney website bios be looking to accomplish?
Warner: Their goal is to tell their story in a compelling way that encourages a prospect to set up an appointment to talk to him or her. This question needs to be answered: why should a potential client trust this attorney with a very important matter?
What makes attorneys unique is their background, experience, approach and personalities. Can they claim to be the smartest, most experienced, best attorney in their field? No (or at least they shouldn’t), but they can lay out the argument why they should be retained or at least considered.
What is the attorney’s value proposition? What sets them apart from the crowd? When I ask these questions many times the response is something like, I’m a nice guy and I’ve been in this line of work for __ years. So what? There are plenty of other nice guys with as much, if not more, experience.
I’m a fan of including some personal information because people (even those running businesses) hire people. Is the attorney someone you can identify with, wouldn’t mind spending time with?
A bio isn’t strictly about the individual. It’s another opportunity to discuss the type of work the person does and the clients who are helped. It’s also a quasi-about us/our practice areas page of sorts.
Like everything else, the bio should be written with SEO in mind.
What are some things to avoid in website bios?
Warner: Don’t brag, exaggerate or claim to be someone you’re not. You need to be authentic to be trustworthy and without building a level of trust and confidence in that potential client, there will be no retainer. As much as I like including personal information, unless your life is dominated by something connected to your market niche (you play a lot of golf and you represent golf courses), don’t go overboard. Discussions about religious affiliations or political activities can be a double edged sword. They may attract those with common interests but also turn off potential clients.
Do legal consumers want to see a long list of credentials and achievements?
Warner: Yes and no, which is a good answer by someone who used to practice law. Should the list be long? No. Should there be a list? Yes, in one form or another.
Sometimes the consumer is highly knowledgeable, perhaps someone in charge of an organization or another attorney, looking for someone with specific experience or knowledge. They may be looking for someone to handle an appeal or to retain for something like a tax or intellectual property issue. In that case, if these are the folks that hire this attorney, the list should be longer and more detailed.
If the attorney’s clients are the general public I’d keep the list short and sweet. Most of us scan web pages, we don’t read them. I wouldn’t list things someone in the general public doesn’t understand. The attorney was the editor-in-chief of her law school’s law review. What does that mean? She was a journalist?
One approach could be to bullet point credentials and achievements after a more general and personal narrative about the person.
What topics make for great attorney bio stories?
Warner: Why is the person practicing law? Why this particular area of practice? Were there any life changing events or experiences that lead the person in this particular professional direction? What good does the person do for his or her clients? What are some significant success stories for his or her clients? What would a colleague or former client say about the person?
There are limits to this. While writing a bio for a personal injury attorney I asked him why this particular area of law. He said he thought it was the quickest way to make the most money. His response didn’t make it to the bio. I’ve also gotten some great responses that result in great bios. A criminal defense attorney told me she went into law school not knowing which direction to take. She had an internship at a public defender’s office, saw people undeservedly caught up in the criminal justice system and found her calling. That’s a great story.
How should an attorney bio page be designed?
Warner: I think a good photo is a must. A head shot or a head and shoulder shot seems pretty standard. How about a photo with a happy client? If the attorney does a lot of adoption work, how about a photo with a client family, with the attorney holding a baby? If the attorney works in construction law, how about a construction site in the background? A photo can be a way to show the connection between the attorney and his or her work.
Whatever the photo, do us all a favor and not set it in a law library, conference room or on what looks to be courthouse steps? You’ll just look like everybody else.
What kind of sidebar content should attorneys use on bio pages?
Warner: I’m a link fan. Links to blogs and articles written by the attorney, to press releases and news articles that feature the attorney or his or her work. If the client base is more sophisticated and there are published court decisions where the attorney represented a party and won, those would be good to link to. No matter the link, it shouldn’t be too old. After five years it’s pretty stale.