“I see a lot of attorney headshots out there. In some, the attorney looks stern. In others, he or she is softer, more approachable. Which is better?”

It’s a very good question that we often receive here at FindLaw. Potential clients are more likely to contact your firm if you look as though they’d like you and trust you. It’s all part of human nature. People make quick decisions based on likeability and trust — and they’ll base a large part of those decisions on how you present yourself in photographs.

With that in mind, here are some tips for taking your next attorney headshot so you can convey the gravitas and friendliness that can entice visitors to call you. Some of these might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many attorneys don’t follow them.

  • Stern or friendly? Go with friendly, hands down. Smile, at least a little bit. A forbidding look might communicate authority, but to a non-lawyer, it also says “I will talk down to you.”
  • Know who to appeal to. Depending on practice area, you may want to appear a bit more casual and avoid typical posed images. Your headshot should reflect your personality and practice. For instance, if your practice is elder or family law, take a softer approach — if you’re male, perhaps forgo a tie. Are you a business attorney? Go more conservative, of course.
  • No selfies. Your photo should be high-quality. To guarantee that, spend the money and get your photograph taken by a professional. A good professional photographer will help present you at your best.
  • Have options. Consider having a few different photographs on hand. You can use them for different purposes. A photo of yourself helping a client reassures consumers that you are there to help.  One with you and your family gives them someone to relate to. But all your images should be consistent in style, tone and quality. So don’t use black and white for some but color for others.

Your potential clients have many options to choose from when it comes to finding an attorney, and they’ll make that decision based on basic human impulses. In your headshot, you should appear friendly and approachable. You don’t need Annie Leibovitz to make it happen, but a better understanding of what consumers are looking for will increase your chances of being contacted.

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