Lawyers should update their bios regularly to keep it fresh, and because it is an important marketing tool. It should be well written, brief and to the point on the benefits a prospect should gain by retaining your services.
Since there will likely be opportunities over the holidays to meet people you will want to send a bio to, it is a good time to update it. Heather Suttie referred on LinkedIn to a post that sets forth some excellent bio do’s and don’ts:
- Target your desired client base. Include benefits that such an audience would be interested in by hiring you;
- Give your story some personality. The best lawyer bio I ever saw is the one for Martin Ginsburg, the late husband of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which portrayed both his excellent credentials and sense of humor;
- Make it brief. But not written like one. Suttie suggests it be 150 words maximum. Sometimes that maybe too long depending on the occasion and audience;
- Include examples of cases or transactions you have handled. However, do not name the client (even if it’s a matter of public record) without the client’s approval. They may not want their matters publicized on the Internet, and very unhappy if you do; and
- Include a recent photo – emphasis on the word recent. You can send the wrong message when you meet a new client in-person, and you don’t look like your 20 year old picture.
- A resume is not a bio. Suttie points out “clients don’t care about your career path, they care about what you can do for them”;
- Self-aggrandizement is a no-no. And of course using words like expert or specialist (unless so certified by an acceptable bar organization) creates ethical problems;
- Although it may be okay to mention your Pulitzer Prize, lesser kudos unless related to your legal practice are not. Your law school Moot Court award 30 years ago won’t cut it;
- Education should be downplayed the further into your career you go. I hate to say it, but you didn’t become a great lawyer in law school. The only thing that really matters is what you have done since; and
- Avoid stating your bar admission year. If you’re a recent grad, it highlights your youth and inexperience. If it is well back in the last century, it may show you are not only long-in-the-tooth, but expensive.
Bios are important and since they are a form of self-marketing, put your best effort into making it sharp, short and a compelling story.