The best law firm website biographies in the world (with apologies to my clients) are in Australia. Check out the website of Marque Lawyers, a highly diverse full-service law firm in Sydney that bills by fixed fees and monthly retainers. Its lawyer profiles are utterly brilliant: charming, insightful, engaging, funny and warm, not to mention extraordinarily well-written. A few examples:
In training since she was 5 years old for her dream job as an Amazing Race contestant, Carol runs, works, talks and eats at high speed. We have to keep telling her to go home and we’re trying hard to find her dark side, but no luck yet. Could be she’s just awesome. ….
We weren’t fooled for a minute by Kiran’s impressive-sounding “European Master in Law and Economics” degree which was as we suspected just an excuse to live in Italy, Belgium and France while pretending to study. Still, it does demonstrate solid skills in research and enterprise, which we like. …
She’s drafted more contracts than you’ve had slices of pizza and can document the purchase of a private island in the Caribbean if you like (she has a precedent). A lawyer with commercial nous! That’s rare enough, but Enjel combines it with awesome negotiating skills and an obsession with finding the perfect takeaway coffee. …
Not our tallest but definitely our highest employee, Owen has scaled some of the world’s most demanding mountains (he says Everest is for tourists) and can tell you exactly what it feels like to fall off a cliff – because he’s done it. …
Here’s why these are great profiles: they make you want to meet the lawyer, and they make you want to hang around the firm. They provide foundational information about the lawyer’s professional skills and expertise; but more importantly, they casually intersperse that information within concise, illuminating and fun stories that tell you about the person. In the space of just a few paragraphs, they not only introduce the lawyer, but also create several entry points for further conversations (Everest? Italy? The Caribbean? The Amazing Race?). After reading these bios, you feel like you’ve learned a lot about the lawyer, but would still like to learn more.
These are also great profiles because they are perfectly integrated within the firm’s overall voice and brand. Most law firms assemble their lawyer biographies piecemeal, over the course of several months, and don’t always edit the bios afterwards to provide a unifying tone or style. Marque’s profiles clearly have all been written simultaneously, by the same author, with a highly specific style and branding goal in mind. Each profile supports all the others and supports the overall firm message: we are a team of smart, interesting, multi-talented, and friendly lawyers focused on the single goal of helping you.
No doubt, there are lawyers reading this post who would dismiss these profiles as “frivolous,” “unprofessional” or “irrelevant.” I worked with one lawyer who, when asked to provide information about his local and legal community activities (and he had many), responded: “What is this for? I don’t understand why this is important.” It’s important because your professional qualifications and expertise do not set you apart. Every other lawyer in your field is “excellent,” “experienced,” “client-focused,” etc. That does not differentiate you. Where you attended law school does not differentiate you. Who you are, uniquely, does differentiate you. Use it.
Lawyer website profiles are far more important than most lawyers and firms realize, and not just for SEO reasons (which are manifold). They’re important because they send a message (positive or not, intentionally or not) about what the lawyer thinks is important and what the firm thinks clients care about. Lawyers who create hackneyed, dull, self-centered biographies are telling the world that they’re hackneyed, dull, self-centered people; firms that post these biographies are telling the world they’re just fine with that impression.
So my advice to lawyers is: break the traditional pattern. Show your clients (present and future) why you’re worth getting to know and worth the investment of their time and money. Show your colleagues that you care enough about your image and about the firm’s fortunes to craft a revealing, relevant, enjoyable biography to support the firm’s marketing efforts. And show yourself that it’s possible to be both personal and professional in your online profile.
You might not believe it, but trust me: you have a great story to tell. Be confident enough to tell it.