My Shingle

Web’s Best Online Profiles…Or Pick Up Lines?

by Carolyn Elefant on November 26, 2012 · 5 comments

in New Marketing Ideas, Tech & Web

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Damian is the litigator God would have invented if He’d thought that at all a good idea. Chaz is  the lawyer with the best name.  Owen can tell you how it feels to fall off a cliff- because he’s done it. And don’t forget Kim, the firm’s Style Queen and who possesses both the sense of a country girl (because she is) and the sensibility of a fashion icon.

In case you’re wondering, these chatty lawyer bios weren’t culled from Match.com or the reject pile for a reality TV show.  They’re from an actual  law firm website that’s been described by at least one expert as having the world’s best online lawyer profiles.  What?

Look, I get that most lawyer profiles tend towards pompous, ponderous, pallid or just PDD (pretty darn dull). But this kind of fluff is just way over the top.  It’s not so much that the bios are simply  TMI  – though that’s certainly part of my gripe.  What’s worst about these bios isn’t that they’re irreverent — but rather that they’re ineffective and frankly insensitive to clients with serious legal problems.

For starters, the bios run counter to conventional lawyer-marketing wisdom which is to anticipate and address the needs of potential customers. Yet, these law firm bios focus an awful lot on the lawyers; screaming out like a little kid “Look at me, look at me, LOOK AT ME – see how clever I am!” Maybe these new-age bios don’t boast about clerkships or credentials but they commit the same sin of self-centric indulgence. As a client, I want my lawyer to focus on me, me, me – not them.

Second, while I enjoy humor as much as the next lawyer, there’s a time and place for it.  As a client, I want a lawyer who above all, will take my problems seriously. If I’m a client charged with a capital crime, I think I’d prefer a lawyer with the sensibility of a pit bull rather than a style icon.  Likewise, if I’m a client who’s just invested my life-savings in a company that my partner now wants to steal from me, then I’d sort of like the firm that I retain to focus on my problems – like loss of my life’s work and worries about how I’ll support myself- rather than sit around and obsess about who’s the tallest associate or which lawyer has the funniest name.

Of course, I realize that these profiles are self-selecting in a way; perhaps intended to attract similarly minded clients who don’t have particularly pressing matters or who value branding and style more than competence and skill. Unfortunately, most judges and opposing counsel don’t necessarily share that preference.

I’m not suggesting that you squeeze every ounce of personality out of your bio, or lard it up with a mile-long list of accomplishments. But somewhere between Wall Street and Peyton Place, there’s surely room to stand out without seeming so obvious about doing it.

What’s your opinion of do these lawyer bios? Love ‘em or leave ‘em? And if you’re particularly proud of your bio, please share it in the comment section (here’s mine, which is ever a work in progress).

Handsome man photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

  • shg

    You are no doubt aware of the latest trend, to “distinguish” oneself from the tens of thousands of other lawyers desperately trying to distinguish themselves from each other, by making one’s bio/profile more human, more personal, more warm and fuzzy and likable. 

    Since the “Tom has two kids and loves dogs” thing has been done to death, a new approach needs to be found to separate oneself from the crowd.  And so it will continue, spiraling downward until we reach a bottom, wherever that may be.

  • myshingle

    A lawyer’s job is to distinguish precedent persuasively. Doesn’t say much for lawyers who can’t distinguish themselves persuasively in a bio, if that’s the goal.

  • Gerry Oginski

    Carolyn, it’s so funny you wrote this. Must have been thinking the same thing I was when I wrote mine.

    I wrote a blog post that will go live later this month about why I don’t do attorney video bios. The reasoning is identical.

    Most people don’t want to hear all about the attorney. Rather, they want to hear how the attorney can help solve THEIR legal problem. I’ll link my post here once it’s live online.

    Great minds think alike…

  • Pingback: Do young, female attorneys have to market themselves as elderly men in order to be successful? « Denise Dolan Law()

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