4 Tips to Prepare Your Law Firm for the Spotlight
What would happen if you had a case or client who suddenly became a nationwide news sensation?
I don’t mean to frighten you, but I’d wager a lot of lawyers (and other small business owners) would be mortified to have a spotlight placed on their websites and attorney bios. It would probably feel like having a photo of yourself splashed on billboards across Manhattan. You might not like your smile but as the saying goes, you’re your own worst critic. At least, that used to be the saying.
Now, in a world where Twitter trolls engage in a virtual economy fueled by snark, sometimes your harshest critics are absolute strangers. Bear in mind, I’m not talking about attorney ratings and reviews here. We’ve already shown that the majority of online reviews are positive.
What I’m discussing is the need for some polish in how attorneys present themselves or their brands online. I’m talking about four simple concepts:
- A Professional Appearance
Want to know why a professional headshot and quality on-site photography is important? Just scroll through LinkedIn. It takes almost no time for you to identify which of your connections are using a candid photo from their phone, or worse, a cropped photo from some past social event. Assuming a potential client visits just 2–3 websites, you need to make certain yours isn’t the one that looks like it was built during a scrapbooking weekend with your in-laws. (Here are more tips for a great attorney headshot.)
- Clear Communications
I get it, writing doesn’t come naturally to everyone and in legal communications, specificity often comes at the expense of readability. But when your law firm is engaged in public communications like promotional copy or legal blog posts, do more than just spell check your work. Taking the time to reread a piece before hitting publish can improve your writing and help you catch small errors that you might otherwise miss. And if you need help dealing with writer’s block, click here.
- Meaningful Biographical Information
Imagine you’re interviewing candidates for an open position at your firm. Do you really care if the person on the other side of the table was a National Honors Society inductee back in 1997? Seeing outdated and irrelevant information like that on their résumé might make you wonder what they’ve done that was worthwhile in the 20 years since high school. There are plenty of ways attorneys can improve their biographies, but I think one of the simplest ways to look at this topic is to consider whether the achievements listed in yours are meaningful. They don’t have to be 100 percent focused on your legal career, but the highlights you choose should carry some weight with your audience.
- Consistent Online Properties
You already know attorneys need to be present on more than just their websites. Legal consumers move from search to social to directory at will. Placing your firm on multiple platforms helps maintain your exposure, but only if the audience recognizes you as they move around. This goes beyond simple NAP (Name Address Phone Number) consistency and includes your brand’s appearance, language and client experience. Get these together, and your firm will be ready to shine when folks turn your way.
It shouldn’t take becoming a star attorney to make you take stock of your online appearance. In truth, no one should take this lightly. From the biggest firm in downtown to the smallest rural law office, exercising a measure of control over how you are perceived by the public is incredibly important, and not prohibitively difficult.
The first step is looking at yourself through someone else’s eyes, keeping what works and being ready to improve what doesn’t.