Attorney Bios Are More Important Than Ever

How important are the attorney bios on your firm website?

“Seventy-eight percent of in-house counsel rely on attorney bios when researching and hiring outside counsel.”

Seventy-eight percent! In fact, the only thing they rely on more than bios are personal recommendations. And yet firms continue to take a . . . shall we say unscientific approach to creating this content.

Not all attorney bios are created equal, and if your firm is still writing them the way it did five or ten years ago, they are probably not functioning very well as business development tools. This recent Attorney at Work article provides a great list of tips for improving the quality of your firm’s attorney bios. Here are a couple pointers we’ve found to be especially true in wrangling the biographical text attorneys provide:

Let go of the need to be comprehensive. It’s hard for lawyers to break the habit they developed in law school of listing every last extracurricular activity on their resume. But when you think about it from the point of view of a prospective client, a lawyer who seems to have experience in every practice area comes across like a generalist, and not in a good way. Business leaders are looking for practitioners with specific skills and experience. Focus on the two or three areas of practice the attorney knows best.

Link to published thought leadership and conference appearances. One of the most important reasons for an attorney to build a profile as a thought leader is that it enhances her or his credibility with prospects. But if you don’t link to those articles and speaking engagements in the text of the bio, or in a sidebar on the same page, visitors to the bio page may never know they happened.

Focus on outcomes, not awards and credentials. Prospective clients are searching for new outside counsel because they have a set of specific problems that need solving. Demonstrating how an attorney has solved problems for other clients in the past (which sometimes means putting business goals ahead of what might seem like a conventional legal “win”) is the best way to make the case that you have the skills and experience clients need.

Last but not least, make it a regular habit to update bios with new information, current links, and updated references to client outcomes worth celebrating. Strong, updated bios offer you the best opportunity to showcase your firm’s strengths and win new business.