Your Attorney Bios Need Some Lovin’
Everyone loves a pretty picture, which is why an estimated 56 percent of website traffic is directed to attorney biography pages. Often overlooked, your people pages have great potential for turning a visitor into a client. By featuring the right content and a decent photo you can turn your attorney profiles into one of the most-visited parts of your site.
The Powerpoint presentation explains information about:
- The kind of content to include in attorney bios
- Examples of modern, personable and formal ways of presenting information about your staff
- Why formatting and style is imperative for the success of these pages
Resources For Gathering Information
- Attorney Questionnaire & Survey – A list of questions to consider answering on your attorney bio pages
- Attorney Bio Template– if you are not sure where to start this is it – download the document and start gathering information form your staff today.
- Get the Most Out Of Your Attorney Bios – The full Powerpoint presentation
In this webinar we’re going to start with some basic information to share. I’ll give you a list of categories. Things that you can consider publicizing for your attorneys. We’re also going to show you some examples of different ways that you can organize the information and present it, so that it’s web friendly, easy to read and still gets the information across. And then, I’m going to end with a kind of style guide. I imagine that many of you are in a position where you’ll be collecting the information from the various attorneys, staff partners, and really making a unify so that you can add it to the web. And I do that a lot and there’s little style that works and tweaks that will drive you absolutely crazy. So, I hope that the style guide toward the end there will help you kind of unify everything and create some consistency from bio to bio.
So, I would argue that your attorney bios are just as important as the home page of the website. It’s really the main area where the user can get a feel for the kind of culture and environment that’s at the firm. Studies have shown . . . A study from great shakes of law marketing company showed that 56% of website traffic is directed to attorney bios and photos. And if you think about it, it really makes sense. Everyone love the picture and when you are talking with an attorney, you’re thinking about hiring them. Attorney bios page acted as a good place for you to really create a bond with your potential clients, whether that’s through the education, you went to the same university or you’re into the same things, the same kind of hobbies. It’s a good place to create that first impression.
These are some of the categories that PaperStreet recommends. I wouldn’t recommend to use all of these as there are quite a few of them. We usually recommend probably about 7 to 8 of them. And what you want to do here is choose the category that you’re using. You want to choose ones that are going to emphasize the point that are going to make your attorney the strongest. So, if your attorney don’t do a lot of publications, if they don’t speak at a lot of events then you don’t need those sections. If they’re really active on social media, absolutely, then throw in their social media, you can pull on their feed. If you have a lot of videos. If you have a lot of testimonials. You want to choose what’s going to make your bio look the strongest. So, Don’t feel like you need to fill in everything here. At an absolute minimum this is what we would recommend that you include. Contact information. A basic text biography. It could be a few paragraphs or it could be a lot of paragraphs, the education and your bar admission, where you’re admitted to practice. I would say at the minimum every attorney bio page should have these 4 things.
Something I want to call out is the last section, which is the personal information. I’m going to show you some files in a few minutes that had some really great example of this. But I think this is a really underutilized area for attorneys. And a lot of law firms I know are uncomfortable because it’s a little less traditional, but it’s really a great way to form bonds with your clients. And for personal information, I’m talking about things like, perhaps, you have been married for ten years and have 3 daughters and on the weekends you like to ride bikes and climb mountains and you enjoy a good glass of wine. Stuff like that where you can afford the connection between each other.
So, we’re going to look at some examples. These are some approaches I would urge you to consider. All of these styles work for the particular law firm. And they might not be right for yours, but I think their definitely worth looking at and only you can really determine the culture of your law firm and kind of dictate the direction that you want the content on these pages to go. But keep in mind that it’s open so that you can mold it and make it yours. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. I think the most important thing is just to make it fit that your law firm, to make it fit your attorneys to really make them shine.
So, this first example is an example of a more formal bio. And you can see that they’re using an attached system here and we call that an expand and collapse. And so, you presented with a few paragraphs and then you have to click to expand the box. If you like to read more that’s these two boxes down here. So, speak into it’s formality, you’ll notice that the use of his name on the second reference, they refer to them as Mr. Berrin. I’m going to talk about this little bit later, but this is obviously a very formal way to refer to your attorneys in the text. You also notice that everything is written in full sentences here. Another tactic of speaks to it’s formality. And when you click on the expand and collapse boxes, you’ll see that even though we break into a bulleted list here, it’s still starts off with a full complete sentence, so it’s really impeccably organized in that manner.
So, this next example is a little more whimsical. It’s a little different for law firms. You can see that the way the information is presented here reflects the much more personal aspect. They lead off with each person answering that series of questions that are a little different. You could see the questions they’re asking. What I love about my work, my hobbies, my interest, people I’d like to meet, my favorite clothe and my favorite is, “if I want a lawyer I would be . . .” So, while it’s kind of like playful in the beginning it also does get the business side done. The paragraph that follows there is talking about her education, her bar admission. The more formal thing you would expect to see in a bio. And you’ll also noticed that here we’re referring to her as first name. You could see that they call her Sarah, so she’s not Mrs. Jones, she’s not attorney Jones. They referred her attorney basis which is much more casual.
So, this is another example that follows the last and they’ve titled this beyond the office. I think you might see it more commonly titled personal or at home or even hobbies and interests. And I think, it’s important to note here that I don’t think the pictures are absolutely necessary. I think for a lot of law firms that maybe a stretch. But if you look at the content yourself if it’s not too small and you can see it. He talks about his wife and how he runs on the weekend and he lifts his daughters. How it’s great to have them all the same place sometime. It really develops him as a person and not so much as a lawyer. And I think that this could be very helpful from a marketing standpoint. And you could keep in mind that isn’t the only thing that appeared on this guy’s bio. The other tab were biography, a written biography, a case studies, they have publications, media, seminars, presentation, news and then this section should be on the office. So, it’s giving you a little bit of everything. It’s doing this more personal aspect, but it’s also making sure that the business side is done.
So, what’s unique about this particular bio here is they’re also using a tab system at the top where you have the different categories lined up. But what’s unique about it is the short and sweet information and that’s the reason I chose to show this one. In the overview, in the curriculum, in the expertise, case studies. Everything is going to have about that same a few hundred words. And so from a usability standpoint it’s really great because it’s not overwhelming the reader with a lot of information. It’s breaking it up. It’s different sections. And one of the biggest questions we’re always asked here is, you could see this guy at the founding partner, of course he’s going to have a lot of information. What if the rest of my staff doesn’t have that much information? That’s fine, we don’t expect everyone to have all of these tab. I would recommend that everybody have at least 3. And I don’t even think that they all need to be the same. If you wanted the title done differently and feature different information for each attorney, by all means, I would recommend that. And again, do whatever you have to, to make the attorney himself or herself look strong and appear as an expert on their field.
This next example is a good example of how to streak in the text a little bit. It can really get a completely a different feel. You’ll see at the bottom here it says, “Hello, meet my colleagues.” This “say hello” button opens up your email, your default email, and it has his email in it. “Meet my colleagues” is basically a return to the attorney landing page, but just that little tweak really gives us, I think you’ll agree, this kind of like a modern and fun feel. It’s much like this next example. Short, sweet, and to the point. This is the most formal example I could find of an attorney bio. And you’ll see this is very simple. It’s just a written paragraph. And although personally I would like to see some bullets in there. I think from a usability standpoint bullets are so much easier to read by people today who are just really staying on your page for a few seconds, scanning some things, reading the first sentences of the paragraph and moving on. But for this firm this is the best option and it’ expertly written, has a lot of formation in it, covers everything you would expect to be covered and it does so in a classic and traditional way.
I want to mention microsites. A lot of the examples I just showed you actually come from microsites which is basically just a small customizable websites that fits seamlessly in within your larger site. And they’re mainly used on attorney bio pages. It’s really a great way to create a flexible and robust marketing platform for your individual attorneys. It’s really a big trend right now. So, I’m going to give you some domain names if you’d like to check out jimersoncobb.com and that’s, J-I-M-E-R-S-O-N, Cobb C-O-B-B.com. And then also Searcyla, S-E-A-R-C-Y la.com. These are great examples of microsites. And the one thing I would say about this is, you really only need to use them if you have a lot of content for your attorneys. We recently worked with a law firm that had over a hundred attorneys and they all had so much content. They all had publications and case studies and seminars and photos and social media and they had everything. So, for us this option was critical and it allows you to organize everything. And presents it all in unified manner and it follows the style of the current site, so it really looks like it belongs there.
As I mentioned, I’m assuming that many of you are the ones that are tweaking the bios on the pages and asking your colleagues to get the information to use so you can make the changes on the website. So, before you start, like I said, this is what I do pretty much every day and if you ask yourself these questions beforehand it’ll really help keep the bios consistent, which is one of the main factors you want to consider when are gathering the content. The more consistent it is, the better it’s going to look. And I would even venture to say that if it’s going to be outdated and it’s going to be a mess, and it’s going to be incomplete, don’t even include it. It needs to be updated, it needs to look the same from bio to bio. The consistency is key. So, these are some things. When you start gathering content and you realize, “Oh jeez,” like this guy is Mr. Boyd, this guy is Attorney Boyd, this is a colon, this is a comma and it’s going to drive you crazy. I hope either of these questions in the next few slides will help you kind of get a hold on that information. So, how do you want the attorney reference throughout the body? Mr. Boyd is obviously a very formal one. Attorney Boyd P., first name basis, again it depends on the culture of your firm. What order do you want the attorneys to appear in? Most attorney pages are either going to start from a drop down menu. Perhaps a landing page. Even a list. So, you have to decide if you’ll going to go alphabetical order way. If you’re going to go alphabetical order first name. We’re going to go alphabetical order last name. Or even if you’re going to take more of the hierarchy approach, list the partners first then council to make those decisions. Who will you feature on the website? Are you going to list paralegals? Are you going to list your ministry of staff, your marketing people or are you just going to list the partners? A lot of that has to do with the size of the firm. But you’ll want to make those decisions ahead of time, so you know who to ask for information. What kind of contact information do you want to share? Are you going to give out the main phone number? Are you going to give the extensions? Do you want people to have your extensions? What order do you want the categories to appear?
And if you’re asking for the same information from everyone then the category should appear in the same order. If you’re allowing them to pick and choose the categories that they want to provide information for then obviously the question is up to you.
Is SEO important? If the search engine is important to you then I really recommend, of course, that you have about 500 words in the page. So, that something to keep in mind. And just know that usually attorneys will rank high just for their name and the name of the firm, so they’re not pages that need to be optimized. But of course if SEO is something you’re considering and the more content, the better.
So, we’re going to start with some of the style and formatting. Middle initials. Is it something you want to include? Is it going to drive you crazy if some of your attorneys have middle initials and some of them don’t? Phone numbers, fax numbers. You’ll see there’s a few different styles there for the way that the information is organized. I would pick one and then make sure it’s consistent throughout all of them.
Title. When you start gathering information everybody thinks that they’re more important than they are. And you’ll get these titles and they’re all different and they should be the same, so I would recommend to make a list. These are all the possible titles of the firm and just have a title of each one that they are. That way you get back the same wording for every person. It should be obvious what the hierarchy at your firm is.
Email. Are you linking your email? Are you spelling it out? You’ll see in the first example, they are hyperlinking the email to that phrase email set. So, if you’re doing that, you have to consider, how are you spelling email? Are you going to add hyphen? Are you going to take away hyphen? Are you going to use something clever like contact us, or get in touch with us now? Or we’d love to hear from you? You have to consider those things. You see the image below they have spelled out their email. I mean, it’s also hyperlinked, but you can visibly see what the email is on the page itself.
Practice areas. I would recommend absolutely that if you list the practice areas for the attorneys that they should match the other pages on your website exactly. So, if you list that John Smith practices in health law, then don’t link it to a health care law page. Let should say that he practices in healthcare law, then they should be identical. This is basic like the Math 101. It should be easy for the user to navigate throughout pages. And if you’re linking them to a page it should be titled exactly what the title of that page is.
Representative cases. A lot of attorneys like to provide this information. I would strongly recommend you have a word count, otherwise you end up with a case study that’s 3 pages long and another one that’s 3 sentences long. And I don’t think they should be long. It should be very short. This is the problem. This is how was solved. This is the settlement amount. This is how it is done. The case names. It’s really up to your firm. I don’t like to see them, but I know sometimes they’re important if it’s the landmark case. Just keep in mind that when you include the case name, it’s awkward looking text. It’s a lot of capital letters. A lot of dots and periods and underlining. So, it can look a little bit awkward. I mean, you can make it look correct with bullets and just decide if it’s something that your firm really needs to include. For simplicity’s sake, I would just leave it out.
And then, office location. If you’re from a firm that has multiple offices throughout the state or even the country, you have to decide whether you’re going to list the state. Recently, we had a law firm. We were working with a company in Florida and they had offices all throughout the main city and we were originally like, “well they’re very known for working in Florida, so, they don’t need them to list their offices locations.” Or their states, excuse me. So saying Tampa was fine. Saying Miami was fine. But then as when we started editing we realized they have a location in Hollywood and when you think Hollywood if you just see Hollywood geographically, you don’t think Florida – the little town down here – you think California. So, we had to go back and added Florida at the end of all the cities. So, this are something that should be aware of if you have more than one office location.
Biography body. Most bios will include some sort of text to open up and if that’s something that you’re using, I would recommend that the text doesn’t repeat the information below. So use the text to say that you’ve been considered an expert because of XY and Z and that you enjoy XY and Z. You’ve being praised by this person and that person. I wouldn’t use that area to say, “Oh I graduated from the University of Florida and these are the areas I practice in,” because if that information is provided below, there’s really no reason. If it’s going to be pulled out in a different section, don’t repeat yourself. No one wants to read that information twice. Your education. We definitely recommend you list your education. It’s one of those categories that I think at the very least you should have. There’s a lot of different ways you can list and organize the education. I would just pick one and be consistent. And I’d also mentioned here, when you see Bachelor of Arts, a lot of times people won’t provide you with the actual degree that they got, you know, English, they would say, “I got a BA from University of Florida.” And I think that’s fine. I don’t think it’s a big deal if the major . . . It’s a style of choice. It’s really up to you. But a Bachelor of Arts would be sufficient. I know a lot of people don’t like to include it. They don’t feel it’s relevant to the actual work that they’re doing now.
So some other considerations. These are very, very particular things. But you’ll see the main headers here. [inaudible 00:20:22] admissions, honors and recognition and education. Some law firms like to have a colon or a dash after each of those headers. And it’s a style choice and you just want to make sure that you’re consistent. So, if you are gathering content from many people. If someone includes it and someone doesn’t you just want to make sure whatever your choosing that you catch it before it goes live. And that’s the same thing with punctuation after the bullet points. Different style guides call for maybe a semicolon or even a period after bullets. Obviously if the sentence is a full sentence you need a period. But if you do use a semicolon, I mean, it’s fine. It’s a style choice. Just make sure it’s consistent from bio to bio.
So, these are some resources that we share with our clients when they have questions, the attorney questionnaire and the attorney bio template. It’s basically an outline of a request that you present to people to start gathering information. And the bio examples on Pinterest. We have a really robust Pinterest of Pete Boyd, the owner of PaperStreet. He’s always Pinteresting for attorney landing pages. So, if you’re short on ideas and you need some inspiration that’s a good place to look up the direct link. And so, I’m going to upload both these. They’re Word documents. The attorney questionnaire, the attorney bio template, as well as the presentation. I’ll upload them all to the PaperStreet Blog early next week. If you want to check back in a few days, you’ll be able to just go ahead and download the questionnaire and the bio template.
And I also want to give you my contact information. We have a chat feature, if anyone has any questions they’d like to ask. I’m more than happy to answer them. I’m also going to give you my email and the PaperStreet phone number. This is my favorite kind of work to do, to talk through problems and create solutions, provided by some on this kind of stuff. So, I would really welcome your questions. I’m more than happy to help. It’s a nice break to the mundane editing that I’m usually doing. So, you can email me. My email is A-L-L-I-S-O-N@paperstreet.com. And the phone number for PaperStreet, the main line, is 954-523-2181. You could just call and ask for Allison or shoot me an email. And like I said, I’ll have this up on Monday. I’ll have it up by Monday. It’ll be a blog post on the PaperStreet blog in the content section. I’ll have all of these links available so that you can download everything as well as the presentation, should you want to reference it again. So, I will give you a few minutes in case anyone wants to ask any question, but I want to thank you for participating. I hope that it was somewhat helpful. Like I said, if I can be any more help, absolutely, please reach out to me. So, I’m just going to give it a few minutes for questions and then we’ll log off. Thank you.
So I don’t see any questions so I’m going to go ahead and log off. I hope everyone has a great day. Check back on Monday for these resources. Thank you.
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