If you only do one thing to improve your attorney bio: fix the first sentence. Why? Because yours is long and boring.
What makes an effective attorney bio? Someone reads it. Even better: someone reads it and decides to call you. But it won’t work if they give up before the first comma.
Tip 1: Fix the first sentence.
In most attorney bios, the first sentence should describe the problems you solve for clients in succinct, plain language.
Objection: I can’t reduce my practice to one sentence.
If you are stuck, or if you have three or more sentences and can’t narrow it down, use my favorite writing tip: Tell it to a friend.
Call a friend and tell them what you do. Better yet, tell someone in person. When talking to or looking at someone, we get cues if we are boring them. We get to the point and speak naturally.*
This is the most important step. You can fix your first sentence, stop there, and trust that you have improved your bio. But for a deeper dive, keep reading.
Tip 2: Know your audience.
This writing maxim has become cliché because it is essential: keep your audience in mind for everything you write. Your tone, word choice, and structure will be different for your bio than it would for a client update or for a legal brief.
When revising your bio, think about:
- Who do you want to read your bio? Prospects, clients, opposing counsel, potential colleagues?
- What question or problem or opportunity has led them to your website?
- Did someone refer them? If not, how did they find you?
- How can you potentially help them?
- Why should they trust you?
Objection: My audience is not a monolith.
It can be difficult to write for a faceless group of readers. Try picturing an actual person when writing – your best client, or your dream client – and write just for them.
Tip 3: Include essential elements.
After thinking about who your audience is and how you can help them, keep both in mind while making sure to include the essential elements.
- Your practice. Your crucial first sentence describes your practice in short and snappy prose. Take another sentence or two to elaborate if needed, but keep it short: less is more.
- Relevant experience. Relevant is the most important word here. Describe one or two past experiences that are relevant to your current practice, briefly.
- Representative matters. What matters have been most significant to you in your practice and why? Describe one or two, briefly.
- Education. List your education and credentials. You don’t need to describe them in sentence form.
- Something personal. Show readers that you’re human by including something about you: a hobby, a favorite book, a place you like to travel, the names of your children or pets.
Objection: I must remain professional at all times.
You can remain professional while letting people get to know you.
Tip 4: Revise.
All good writing is rewriting. Review and edit your new bio, then share it with someone from the marketing team or a colleague. Cut out anything extraneous. Be ruthless.
Objection: I don’t have time to think about my bio.
Attorney bios are the most viewed pages on law firm websites. Don’t waste the opportunity! Make it easy for people to get to know you.
Tip 5: Use ChatGPT to brainstorm.
Objection: ChatGPT cannot produce a thoughtful attorney bio.
As of now, ChatGPT and other generative A.I. platforms cannot write a bio you’d want to use.
However, they can give you a jumpstart.
You could copy and paste your resume into ChatGPT and ask it to write an attorney bio. I tried this. Although the prose was terrible, (sounded like a high schooler tossing around legalese), it gave me something to edit. Sometimes that’s all we need to get moving.
You could also ask A.I. a question.
I tried, “What elements should every litigator include in their bio?” and “What do people want to know before hiring an estate planning lawyer?”
In response to each question, A.I.-generated a list. They weren’t complete, but they gave me some food for thought and helped put me in the shoes of someone looking for legal services, aka the audience.
I have yet to meet the person who enjoys updating their bio, but hopefully, these tools will guide you through a few simple steps that lead to great results.
Remember, even just fixing the first sentence is a huge leap forward.
Additional writing resources:
* Ideas in Tip One adapted from: Vandehei, Jim, Allen, Mike, and Schwartz, Roy, (2022) SMART BREVITY: The Power of Saying More with Less, Workman Publishing, pp 73-76.
Caskey, Ann, Content Writing for Attorneys: 5 Idea Starters, legalisi.com, May 16, 2022.
Martin, Dan, Can ChatGPT Do All My Writing?, legalisi.com, Feb 3, 2023.
Leveraging A.I. to Enhance Attorney Bios, All the Things podcast, July 28, 2003.