If a potential client only saw your website bio, would he or she hire you?

In a 2001 survey mentioned in Finding and Working with lawyers on the Web, of how buyers of legal services view websites, Greenfield Belser Ltd. learned that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed go online to locate outside counsel. They go directly to the firm websites and rely on search engines also.

In 2010, Adrian Dayton reported in What’s Wrong With Your Law Firm Bio? that 90% of general counsel claim the attorney bios are the most important part of a law firm’s website. I bet the percentages even greater in 2014.

Lawyers I coach frequently ask me to give them a critique on their website bios. Here are a few of my thoughts I share with them:

Photos: I think they should be in color and not just mug shots. I also believe it is important to dress for success when your photo is taken. It is not a good idea to have the website photos taken after the cocktail party at the firm retreat. It is also not a good idea to use the photographer who does 1000 photos for the church directory or school. Check out this 2010 Great Jakes post with photo examples: Attorney Bio Photos – A Survey of 10 Firms

Industry Expertise: In the 2001 survey, Greenfield Belser learned that two-thirds of the searches by buyers of legal services target specific industry expertise. So, if your practice lends itself to one or two industries it is important to identify those on your website bio. I can speak from my own experience, because I know I was hired more often because of my construction industry knowledge rather than my legal knowledge.

Experience: Experience handling a particular type of matter is important. I believe that buyers of most legal services want to know whether the lawyer they are hiring has experience handling the particular type of matter for which they need help.

Articles/Presentations: Your website bio should be content rich.  This is a particularly important area for young lawyers. I was once asked to do a presentation to a group of lawyers, many of whom handle insurance coverage cases. Like a potential client I went on line and did a search for insurance coverage and lawyers. None of the names of the lawyers attending the workshop came up in my search. I did find a lawyer who had three pages of articles and presentations on every aspect of insurance coverage. I have no idea if she is a great lawyer, but I know she must know this area of law very well to get published and asked to speak so often.

Downloads: If you have written articles or given presentations, make sure a potential client can download them. That way instead of “selling” you are “showing” your expertise. I recommend you consider having your presentation materials downloadable and even recommend you include video clips from a presentation, but only if a professional did the video.

What Makes You Unique: I believe the website bio is a place to identify what makes you unique and special. One of the best young lawyers who worked for me had grown up in his family’s construction business and had actually run a part of the business. Another associate in our firm had worked as an engineer for the state department of transportation. Those two lawyers had construction experience that our construction clients would value. I have coached many lawyers who speak foreign languages fluently. If you are one of those lawyers, include that on your bio.

Integrate Social Media and Links to Your Blog: Clients, potential clients, referral sources and friends want to be able to easily find you on the social media sites. Include those links on your bio. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is as well done as your website bio, because a potential client may find it first.

Make Your Website Bio Easy to Share: Like the links to your social media sites, you can include a button making it easy to share your bio by email and on social media sites.

Download v-Card: Your firm likely has this feature on your website bio. But, as a Mac user, make sure that your download v-Card feature is Mac friendly.

The Latest Website Bio Features: Law firms are now using video on their websites. If you want examples, take a look at the Greenfield Belser video examples or Great Jakes: Attorney profile videos: A survey of 8 law firms