You step into an elevator on the ground floor of your firm’s office tower. You’re facing the general counsel of ConnectoFace, a fast-growing company that’s considering your firm for a blockbuster assignment. You’d love to represent them.

“Hi, I’m Bill Brown, a litigation partner here and I admire what you’re doing at ConnectoFace,” you say.

“Thanks,” she replies. “Tell me more about yourself. Why should I hire you?”

You have 30 seconds to sway her.

“I’m currently lead counsel for a massive MDL involving exploding kombucha bottles,” you say. “And last year I won the dismissal of a class action over millions of fitness tracker devices that inflated step counts. Last year I also defeated class certification in a lawsuit over doggy DNA tests.”

You know what you don’t mention? A law review article you wrote in 1998. Or a motion to dismiss you won in 2008. Or your LawLion Superstar award from 2010.

You need to approach your online biography the same way. It shouldn’t be a tote board of achievements. It needs to be a succinct and compelling elevator pitch that persuades clients to contact you. That means you need to cull your bio down to a handful of matters that will quickly impress. 

Imagine this busy GC scrolling through lawyer bios on her smartphone in an airport lounge. She doesn’t want 3,000 words listing every matter you’ve ever touched in your career. A bio like that conveys an attitude that you’re thinking of yourself, not your clients.

Give her the written equivalent of your elevator pitch, slightly expanded. It’s the most effective way to tell your story.

So here’s my advice for creating a compelling biography for the web.

  • Keep it under 500 words. (This post, by the way, is under 450 words.)
  • List just five of your most impressive engagements, the more recent the better. (If the reader wants more detail, they’ll contact you. Some firms let viewers click through for more detail, but keep that brief, too.)
  • Be specific about your experience and skip the meaningless blather. (Bob has represented a wide range of clients in a variety of high-stakes matters.)
  • If you feel the need to list articles, include just one or two published in the last five years.
  • As for awards, include only those from the last five years, unless the award is extraordinary. (Time’s Person of the Year is okay.)

Remember the first rule of creating content: Put your audience first. A bio is not a device to boost your ego. It should be a tool to capture the attention of clients and drive business.