January 14, 2011
Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney Business Building Tip Sheet

By Paula Langguth Ryan; Consumer Bankruptcy marketing consultant
800/507-9244; www.paulalangguthryan.com/bankruptcy-tools/attorneys

You only get one chance to make a first impression on clients, and fortunately or unfortunately, most clients get their initial impression of you while surfing the internet. So your bio and picture have really got to give them a FULL picture of who you are. Not always easy in the two dimensional world of cyberspace. Videos help, because they allow your personality to shine through. But if you’re camera shy, or technologically challenged, there is an easy way to make a good first impression on potential clients. Brush up your bio. My colleague, Terri Porter of Spark Legal was kind enough to share her top 10 tips for better bios. Enjoy – Paula

10 Tips for Better Bios

By Terri Porter; Spark Legal Marketing and Development
303/656-8123 or email tporter@spark-legal.com

Your attorney biography can be a powerful marketing tool. Unfortunately, most aren’t. Why? Because most bios regurgitate the information that appears in your CV, which, naturally, is all about you, the attorney. Marketing, on the other hand, is all about the client and what you can do for him or her.

From a client perspective, your attorney bio should ideally answer three basic questions: (1) How can you help me? (2) How do I know you can help me? (3) Why should I hire you over someone with similar qualifications? The following tips will help you to transform your bio into an effective marketing tool that answers these questions:

1.      Make sure all your contact information appears at the beginning of the bio so that clients and prospects can readily see how to reach you.

2.      Take a close look at your photo (you DO have one, don’t you?). Does it show someone who is approachable and friendly or stiff and uncomfortable? Has it been updated recently so that it actually looks like you?

3       Seek and destroy the following verbs: represent, advise, counsel, work with, serve as and similar words that say little about what you can actually do for clients. For whatever reason (perhaps the ethics rules forbidding the guaranteeing of outcomes has something to do with it), attorneys are reticent to say, “Here’s what I can do for you.” Critical to understand is the notion that telling clients specifically the ways in which you can help them in no way guarantees that the help you provide will lead to the outcome they desire.

4       Count how many times your bio uses the word experience or variations thereof. Now delete them — every one. The fact that you have experience is significant, but the fact of your experience alone isn’t enough to convince prospective clients why they should hire you.

5.      Focus your text on what you can do for clients now. Don’t include a rundown of your past experience unless it affords some unique perspective you can offer clients now. Remember, your bio is not your resume.

6.      Your narrative is the most important part of your bio. Rewrite it with a focus on what you can do specifically to help clients:

BLAH:      _____ has extensive experience in counseling clients about X, Y and Z.

BETTER:  _______ helps her clients identify _________, manage _________, prevent __________, etc.

Remember: Less is more. Keep the narrative of your bio to between 250 and 300 words and focused on what you can do for clients.

7.      Include the names of your alma maters (minus the honors, law review position, etc. unless you’re an associate), which can provide a point of connection with prospective clients who are fellow alumni, friends or families of alums, etc.

8.      Limit your list of publications and presentations to those you’ve done in the last two or three years. Clients care about what you’re doing now and are not likely to peruse a lengthy list to see everything you’ve ever written or presented.

9.      Consider including a fun fact or facts about yourself in a separate section at the end. Although the law is serious business, the people who practice it are human, and that’s the piece that often resonates most strongly with clients — in other words, they want someone they can relate to.

10.    Finally, include a link at the bottom of your online bio that will give viewers who wish to know more about you the opportunity to see your full CV on your LinkedIn profile (you DO have one, don’t you?). Also include that URL in the contact information at the beginning of your paper bio.

By following these tips, you can dramatically transform your bio from a benign informational recitation into a dynamic marketing piece. To see “before” and “after” bio samples or to discuss how to remake your specific bio into an effective marketing tool, call 303.656.8123 or email tporter@spark-legal.com.

Terri Porter is a principal of Spark Legal Marketing & Development, which is based in Denver, Colorado, and offers broad-based marketing and development solutions to law firms throughout the United States. For more about her work, visit www.spark-legal.com.

PS If clients lack confidence about how to handle their finances or rebuild their credit after bankruptcy, point them to valuable resources like the Do’s and Don’ts of Bouncing Back From Bankruptcy booklet (or the full Bounce Back From Bankruptcy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Back on Your Financial Feet). You can either direct clients to our website (www.paulalangguthryan.com), give them a flyer (download it at www.paulalangguthryan.com/bankruptcytools/attorneys/) about the book, or buy The Do’s and Don’ts of Bouncing Back or Bounce Back From Bankruptcy in bulk and give a copy to your clients after their creditor’s meeting. You can find details on the same bankruptcytools page above!