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Over the course of the last decade, the Global 50 law firms have spent a collective tens of millions of dollars designing new websites. But are these redesigns making website visitors any happier? Do the sites actually drive the coveted “Three Rs” of marketing: reputation, relationships, and revenue? If they don’t include updated lawyer biographies, the answer may be no.
According to website analytics tracked by Content Pilot, 40-70% of visitors to law firm sites view lawyer biographies. If these biographies aren’t engaging, potential clients might look elsewhere.
The legal services industry is a buyer’s market, and lawyer biographies must deliver on multiple levels to rise to the top. In order to improve their chances of ultimately getting hired, law firms should create website biographies that work in three dimensions: demonstrate expertise, prove relevancy, and show humanity.
To get on a client’s short list, lawyers must show their experience is specific and relevant. When buyers look for legal services, they ask questions like, “What have you done and for whom have you done it?” and “What can you do for me?” Lawyers must answer these questions to have any chance of passing the short-list test. The best lawyer bios include short, concise, and descriptive client case studies. These breathe more life and interesting detail into your experience—they tell not only what you did, but how you did it.
The first place relevancy is tested is in a Google search for a lawyer’s name. What comes up in the first 140 or so characters of a search? This is the most important online real estate most lawyers will ever own, and it might be the only part of their biography a potential client reads.
In order to prove relevancy, firms might feed current blog and Twitter posts into their attorney bios. This shows that the lawyer is shaping today’s conversations. Firms might also include a spot to feature a book the lawyer has written, or something else notable. Consider this a “house ad” where the lawyer can promote thought leadership.
Lastly, firms can add an infographic that highlights trends in that lawyer’s practice or industry. This is perfect for lawyers in IP, M&A, and other practice areas where transactions are counted and trends are often measured.
Buyers of legal services purchase on two levels. When they create their short list of lawyers or firms, they’re making an intellectual decision, evaluating things about the firm or lawyer they can check off a list. But when they choose one lawyer or law firm to hire, they’re making an emotional decision. Do they trust the lawyer and have a personal connection with them? Is this lawyer likeable? This third dimension, humanity, is just as important as the other two.
To begin, law firms should always use magazine-style (large format) photos. Toss out those tiny 15-year old photos where lawyers were 10 pounds thinner and had more hair. In addition, firms might consider showing a short (20-30 second) video that tells a memorable story about a problem the lawyer solved or an opportunity they helped a client seize.
Another way to add personality to a lawyer biography is through an “After Hours” tab or feature—content that describes the lawyer’s passions outside the office. Some lawyers love the idea of sharing what makes them interesting humans, while others think it’s cheesy. But lawyers become more provocative when clients learn they love hiking in the Himalayas, cycling through the wine country, or that they competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics in diving.
Lastly, lawyers should prove they are accessible; firms should include each lawyer’s assistant’s name and contact information, their team names and contacts, and how to reach them via instant message. Clients are constantly complaining that they can’t reach their lawyers when they want them. Take that complaint off the table and ensure your lawyers are easy to find.
When competition for plum clients and work is this stiff, lawyers have to invest more time and energy ensuring their qualifications and credentials rise to the top.
About the Author
Deborah McMurray is the founder, CEO and Strategy Architect of Content Pilot. Along with Greg Siskind, she is the co-author of the American Bar Association’s new book, Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing on the Internet, 4th Ed. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @ContentPilot.