In my last post, I talked about many of the common blunders lawyers make with their About or Firm Overview pages. In this post, I’ll give some dos and don’ts to help you create a better “About” page.
Most lawyers think their website, and particularly their About Page, is about the firm. But in actuality, your site is a resource for your clients and referral sources; it is about you, but it should be written for them. The About page or Firm Overview is the one which specifically discusses the firm, its history, philosophy/mission statement, goals, etc., but it needs to be written with the firm’s clients and the information that is important to those clients to help them make a decision about working with your firm.
- Use clichés that could apply to any law firm, or that are seen as ‘givens’ by clients. Clients expect lawyers to have experience in their field, to care about their clients, to be responsive, and to put clients’ interests first. Indeed, these are required by the attorney ethics rules. But they don’t really tell the client anything about you.
- Fill your About page with meaningless verbiage and adjectives designed solely to convince potential clients of your greatness. When you brag about yourself it’s a turn-off.
- Just list your practice areas by their formal names or use legal jargon – real people don’t talk like that. If your profile is filled with legalese and jargon, you create more distance between you and your audience.
- Use stock photos of scales of justice, columns, the courthouse or gavels on your About page (or elsewhere on your site, for that matter). And don’t use stock photos of random people, either.
- Treat your About or Firm Overview page as an afterthought.
- Set yourself apart. Tell the story of your firm, describe your philosophy and show how you’re different.
- Demonstrate your expertise. If the firm’s site includes articles, publications, videos, speaking engagements, or presentations that can illustrate the firm’s work and make it more ‘real’ for the client, the About page should include links to those resources.
- Speak your clients’ language. Use the language your clients use to describe their problems, instead of language only lawyers use. For example, rather than calling yourself a ‘commercial real estate lawyer,’ you might say that you negotiate leases for businesses. If your goal is to demonstrate your expertise and show potential clients and referral sources that you understand their problems and can help them, you want them to feel like they know you. The best way to do that is to speak to them in a way that they can understand, not to use big, fancy legal words to sound smart. Talk to your clients and potential clients about their problems and needs. Listen to the words they use to describe their problems. Then use those terms in your About page and elsewhere on your website.
- Demonstrate your expertise, rather than talking about it. Instead of saying you have experience, show you know you’re doing by providing resources and information, answering frequently asked questions and explaining the process.
- Include stories about how you’ve helped clients with particular problems. Consider including case studies or client testimonials (where permitted by your jurisdiction’s ethics rules). Tell a story about how you successfully negotiated a lease for a client. Stories are more interesting than credentials, anyway.
- Focus on your clients and their needs. If your lawyers have been in practice for a ‘combined 80 years’ you’ve got enough experience to know what clients generally ask when they first contact your office, what their main concerns are, and how to address them. Do that on your About page and you’ll stand out.
- Convert knowledge into benefits. Statements about the firm’s knowledge, experience, accolades, should be a part of your About page, but to be most effective, those items should be presented in a way that relates them to benefits that the client will receive. How do your particular qualifications provide value to the client? How will your specific experience help clients achieve their goals?
- Show you’re human. People do business with people they know, like and trust. Even if you have a business to business practice, people are going to make the decision to hire your firm to represent them. People naturally look for commonalities when awarding business. Although potential clients will most certainly want to hire someone with experience and demonstrated knowledge in the area, it wouldn’t hurt if they have similar interests, belong to the same groups or are otherwise a part of your community.
- Spend time making your About page a good representation of your firm, its culture, philosophy and clients. Think of it as a summary or introduction to the specifics contained in the rest of your site. As with all online properties, your About page should keep keywords in mind. That doesn’t mean keyword stuffing, but it does mean being strategic about how you describe your firm and including those keywords in your About page with links to places on the site where visitors can find more information about that topic.
- Use your About page as a way to help visitors navigate through your site and find information they need. Include a link to your contact page, but include the contact information directly on the page as well.
- Use real photographs of your firm, including partners, associates and staff. Your clients may deal with staff more than with the lawyers in your office. Humanize that contact.
- One final test: give your firm’s about page to your mother, your grandmother, your kids or anyone else who isn’t a lawyer. After they read it, ask them to tell you in their own words what you do and who you do it for. If they can’t do it, it’s back to the drawing board.
(Photo credit: jamesjustin on Flickr.)