Web site bios should be so much more than lifeless resumes — they should be persuasive marketing documents. At a certain point in a lawyer’s career, professional competence is assumed. Potential clients are looking for lawyers (and other professional services providers) who are not only skilled, but also good and interesting people with whom to build a close relationship that will last for many years.
One of the best ways to demonstrate that you are a good and interesting person is by the addition of personal quotes to an online bio. Journalists know that quotes add life, urgency and authenticity to an article; quotes can add the same qualities to a Web site bio.
If short, quotes can be woven unobtrusively into the narrative. If longer, they can be broken out and used as a graphic element to make the page more interesting — indented, in a side bar or in a box. If lawyers are uncomfortable with quotes on the main bio page (which they should not be, but often are), quotes can be accessed by a "more about Jane Smith" link.
A skilled interviewer can elicit good quotes — from almost any subject — by asking good questions and following up. Over the years as a journalist and a writer, I have interviewed thousands of subjects — and have found a way to make each and every one interesting in some way. A journalist is trained to ask who, what, where, when, why and how. Ask your lawyers:
— Why did you choose this profession?
— What was your favorite matter or case ever, and why?
— If you had to change professions, what would you be, and why?
— Which emerging legal topic is intriguing you lately, and why?
— Other than your profession, what is the most interesting thing about you?
The answers to these and other questions will help you draft quotes that add an entirely new dimension to a lawyer’s bio — adding highly persuasive values, depth and character to an otherwise dry list of credentials, and clearly differentiating a lawyer from other lawyers being considered by a potential client.
Do not reproduce the quotes verbatim. (This is one way in which you can differ from a journalist!) Combine them to create an interesting narrative. All draft quotes, of course, should be provided to the lawyer — to be refined and "claimed" before they are posted, or before they are shown to anyone else at the firm.