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Your bio’s job is to cause visitors to conclude that you understand their problems and the context within which they must solve them, and why they hire lawyers. Unfortunately, too few lawyer bios do any of that. Most focus on the work they’ve done, i.e., their output.

Most read like long form resumes, often written in the third person: (“Ms. Jones regularly represents…”), and are often tediously repetitive (“Ms. Jones regularly represents…”). The following is a sanitized Experience segment of an actual lawyer bio. Notice how every line begins the same.

Relevant Experience

  • Representation of various clients in connection with the acquisition and redevelopment of...

  • Representation of clients in connection with negotiation of...

  • Representation of a Fortune 500 company in the sale of...

  • Representation of a major, publicly-traded company in connection with...

  • Representing a developer with the acquisition and financing of...

  • Representation of a public entity with construction-related matters in connection with...

  • Representation of public entities in connection with...

  • Serving as counsel to developers and investors on a wide array of matters on projects such as...

  • Representation of clients on matters pertaining to...

  • Representation of clients before [regulatory board]...

  • Representation of clients in connection with...

Repetitive, eh? Could you blame a busy reader who’s looking for expert counsel for skimming these, not even registering the content because their brain has concluded that each line is no different than the previous ones?

Bios also commonly cite providing advice/counsel, handling matters, being involved in cases or projects, etc. Reading them, one would be forgiven for concluding that, somehow, the only verbs available to such highly educated people are “represent,” “handle,” and “provide.” Or, worse, the noun form plus “of”, such as “representation of,” or the gerund form, e.g., “handling of,” and the like.

Not only do these expressions make you sound exactly the same as countless other lawyers, but they convey no impact, which communicates no value.

So, how do you make your bio resonate with potential buyers (which includes current clients)?

Outcomes instead of actions or output

Webster’s defines “resonate” as “to relate harmoniously : strike a chord.” To be in harmony, you have to be on the same frequency. That means you must be relevant.

What do legal service buyers find relevant? Not your experience, per se. Their opinion of your experience is shaped by what they perceive that your experience will do for them.

People don't care what you do. That’s your output. They care what outcome you produce, i.e., what "what you do" does for them. So, for example, all those representations listed above, phrased passively, e.g., "representation of clients in connection with..." are likely to produce a collective yawn. Could that type of bio be any more sterile, less human?

Is that how the client in that matter would describe the engagement? Not a chance. They'd talk about, "We faced this problem/challenge. I don't know what kind of magic Alice performed, but as a result, we got..."

Outcomes. That's what people care about. You have to make strangers care about you because they believe that you can make their situation better.

An outcome-based bio

Here’s how to construct an outcome-based bio. Create all those mini-stories, then let them inform a summary of all of them.

Begin with “who”

Decide who is the audience for the bio. “Anybody” or “everybody” are self-defeating answers, so don’t go there. Who are you trying to attract? Construction companies? Financial service companies? Pharma? Automotive? Within those companies, who are the primary buying influences? Corporate counsel? C-suite management? Line-of-business executives? Sales? HR?

Define the “why”

Why are previous clients glad they hired you? If you gave them as a reference, what would they say? Describe what beneficial outcomes they’d attribute to your work. It wouldn’t be, “She did great IP work.” No, they’d describe a particular effect of that IP work, e.g., “She kept a competitor’s product off the market for two years, giving us the head start we needed to establish a market position before we had to compete against a much bigger company.”

Create a summary

Based on all those beneficial outcomes, summarize a value position that covers the most important of them. “My job is to protect the results of your R&D investments by preventing competitors from poaching or piggybacking on them.”

Offer specific evidence to support that outcome claim

This is where what you did for Company A, Company B, etc., comes in. But you don’t just say, “Obtained a successful patent for [product type] for [company type].” Instead, you get specific and go with something like “Enabled [company type] to establish a two-year head start in the [category] market by establishing patent protection that precluded reverse engineering.”

That two-year head start is what others are looking for. You’re not saying you can do the same for them, but you are saying that you’re focused on the business impact. That’s what they’re buying.

Mike O’Horo