I’ve written hundreds of articles for and about attorneys. What does that have to do with anything? Essentially, the same key points utilized to create an interesting article are virtually identical to those that make a compelling, engaging and informative professional bio. More importantly, they are the same aspects that, when done right, lead to the next step – a new client.
Capturing your expertise, special qualifications and personality in a couple hundred words might feel challenging but an interesting and revealing bio is essential in this highly competitive world. Whether it’s for your website or to have on hand for media, your professional bio should be written with thoughtful intent but a light touch.
Contradictory? Not at all!
Hello, My Name Is…
When meeting in person, the most natural opening is usually by offering you name and handshake. In a bio this step would not only be redundant but incredibly boring. Not to mention, physically impossible.
Your reader already knows at least a couple of things by the time they reach your bio page. They’ve obviously been searching for a qualified attorney in your area of expertise and just by clicking the page, they know your name. Also, you obviously cannot accompany your opening comments with a warm handshake, so your words are going to have to suffice and make that all important connection
So, what is that mysterious formula? Sorry, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. But that’s good news! Right here, with your opening verbiage you have the rare opportunity to show how you’re not like every other attorney. Try that with a handshake!
Don’t worry, while there is not an all-inclusive formula there are a few intro topics that will not only immediately capture the reader’s attention but also reveal something important about you.
Answer a question: This is a great opportunity to demonstrate how in tune you are with not only your specialty but what a potential client needs from you. For instance, if you’re a personal injury attorney you might open with something like, “How do you know if you have a personal injury case?” I guarantee, that (and the cost of your services) are the two top questions those potential clients want to ask. Beat them to the punch by giving them a concise, informative answer up front and please in plain language. Save the legalese for the courtroom!
Philosophical: Be careful with this one as it can become very heavy-handed and even a bit pompous if not handled properly. Perhaps this is most appropriate for family law attorneys. Ask any family law attorney and he or she will attest that the potential for explosive, even violent events are ten times more likely with a family dispute than with a dangerous, hardened criminal. Emotions run high and your potential client’s feelings are raw. Humor isn’t appropriate here and with the myriad possible conflicts, it’s doubtful you can anticipate a question that is broad enough so a soothing, yet wise statement that’s both intuitive and somehow reassuring might be just the right opening. Something along the lines of, “A family unit is the most sacred and potentially hurtful association we share in this life…”
There are undoubtedly many more ideas for an effective opening, just use your strengths and try to anticipate what your client would need most from you if he or she were actually sitting in your office.
Make Each Word Count
Perhaps you’ve heard the term, “elevator pitch” a very common and aptly named device usually employed by highly successful salespeople. Condensing your sales pitch into tightly woven, eloquent but not turgid prose is certainly an art, but it is not magic or rocket science. Following just a few simple steps will help you create an affable yet wholly professional bio that will inform, engage, and elicit the response you’re going for.
Short but sweet: Once you’ve captured your audience with an effective opening, move on immediately to your services, special qualifications, and most importantly what that means to them.
Count them like cash: Words are an essential part of your profession. You’re highly competent crafting the right phrase or argument, but for some reason when it comes to writing about yourself, you’re stymied. Or perhaps the opposite is true. Maybe you are very adept at reeling off your credentials, affiliations and latest big wins. Not to worry. Certainly, the basic elements are necessary, but whenever possible try to explore unique or colorful facets that help you stand out from the crowd. But keep it brief. Everyone is in a hurry these days and in their state of mind, this is even more true. Get the essential facts out, but don’t try a closing argument approach.
Bragging rights: Let me be clear, this is not an invitation to cut and paste portions of your CV (which by the way you should have available on a V-Card or at least a link) but rather, in colorful, or at least interesting prose, concisely outline those things that you would highlight if you had the opportunity to speak face-to-face. Remember, they have come to this page because they are shopping for an attorney that can help with their problem or situation. At this juncture, they couldn’t care less if you led moot court in law school or if you were editor of the law review. They want to know what you have that makes them feel confident you can help them. In short, always remember your audience.
Try humor: No, I don’t mean a cocktail party joke or some lame pun. If you are known for your wit and clever sense of humor, show it off without being dismissive or in any way making light of their anguish at having to search for an attorney in the first place. For example, if you’re a divorce attorney you might try something along the lines of, “Want to know how to make a clean getaway from your marriage with your dignity and possessions intact…live in separate houses!” (Sorry, humor is not my forte but if it’s yours this can be golden opportunity.)
KISS (keep it simple, stupid): Yes! Get your strong suits clearly outlined but keep it simple. You are not talking to other attorneys, the judge or a date you want to impress with your law degree. Speak in normal, everyday language that not only allows your reader to keep up, but not be put off with your bombastic verbiage.
This is the point where you tie up loose strings and make them see you as the kind of attorney that will sincerely care about them and their situation. Close the deal by inviting them to an in-person (ideally free) consultation to further explore their specific needs. This is not the time for a hard-sell advertisement, but rather a warm and hopefully sincere declaration that you will be in their corner and fight for them. Again, remember who you’re talking to and put their interest first not your own.
Don’t psyche yourself out by overthinking or pulling out the college thesaurus. Speak from the heart (if you have to fake it) and try to reach across that digital wall to really connect. The objective is to make this potential client see you not just as a highly qualified attorney but a person that will take them and their situation seriously.