I am a first-year associate tasked with writing my bio page for our website. Do you have any tips on how to write a bio that is not god-awful?
– Autobiography of a Face
Dear Autobiography of a Face,
As a first-year associate, you have no skills or experience that any client reading your bio cares about. Whether you graduated Order of the Crotch Coif or have rudimentary knowledge of Latin is immaterial to whether you can send around the dial-in, make copies or create binders. I know your semester abroad in Seville and internship at Footlocker are important accomplishments to you. But to the outside world, your bio page exists solely to cover the remote possibility that the partner, senior associate and midlevel all die in a plane crash, and the client needs to shoot you an email about getting other people staffed on the project ASAP….
To borrow a line from Sharon Nichols, I judge you when you have a poor website.
Like it or not, we live in a superficial world where your website is judged on a daily basis — and not just by me. Friends, colleagues, potential employees and most importantly potentially paying clients are all looking at you — watching, judging.
Of course, there’s the old adage that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but do you know why that’s an old adage? Because we all judge books by their cover, and by “book” I mean “your law firm.” But fear not, you of the static, monochromatic firm website that still lists now-departed associates. Your salvation lies in the hands of your beloved managing editor, David Lat — at least partially….
We solicited possible captions, with preference given to ones that would constitute alternative bios for the lawyer in question. You gave us a few good ones, so we decided to turn them into a caption contest….
One possible answer: your photograph (or lack thereof). As law firm marketing consultant Dion Algeri told Adrian, pictures are “extremely important” to attorney bios on law firm websites. Over at Great Jakes, Algeri analyzes the lawyer photos on the websites of ten different law firms: Axiom, Babcock Partners, Boies Schiller, Cravath, Edelson McGuire, Greenberg Traurig, Linklaters, Proskauer, Walkers, and White & Case. He notes a trend: “[F]irms are now recognizing the importance of these images and are investing in more lush and engaging photos.”
Don’t take it personally. Nobody is perfect, but unfortunately, when it comes to law firm bios — well, most of them stink. They tout the vast accomplishments of the lawyer: where they went to law school, if they graduated with honors, whether they were on law review. Then they often include a laundry list of each and every type of legal matter the attorney has ever dealt with in their life. The main problem is, attorney bios are often created with very little thought into strategy. This is unfortunate, especially considering how important bios are.
Your bio matters to decision makers. Ninety percent of general counsel claim the attorney bios are the most important part of a law firm’s website (2009 Wicker Park Group). Studies have also shown that bios are the most viewed pages on law firm websites, generating over 50% of the page views. If a good bio can help you land one more client this next year, what would that be worth to you? What about five new clients? Perhaps your bio deserves a little more attention than you are giving it.
There are three major problems that plague the bios of law firms, and some of them are pretty easy to fix….
Managing expectations is a very important skill — when it comes to personal relationships, movie enjoyment, and, of course, dealing with your co-workers and clients.
You need to know how to set boundaries. After you’ve pulled two all-nighters in a row, for example, it’s okay to tell the partner you work for that you just can’t do a third. If you give an inch, your colleague or client will take the proverbial mile.
We do not work on the weekends and do not provide emergency numbers for the weekends. There are times we may look at and answer your email over the weekend, but this is generally the exception and not to be relied upon by you that we are accessible on weekends.
And they don’t do windows, either.
Do not think we are perfect. We make mistakes. We are competent attorneys and paralegals, but we make mistakes. We will correct a mistake if we find it or if you point it out. Please do not yell at us, accuse us of not doing our job, or insult us over a mistake.
And please do not sue us for malpractice. We warned you at the outset that “[w]e make mistakes.”
Back in March, we reported on stealth layoffs at Davis Polk & Wardwell. Stealth layoffs are usually seen as an effort to maintain high attorney utilization rates — and high partner profits. But at genteel, WASPy DPW, long known for its passive-aggressive kinder and gentler firm culture, profits come second to pulchritude.
Everything is beautiful at 450 Lexington — the offices, the stationery, and yes, the attorneys. DPW has long been known for hiring based on beauty as well as brains. So we suspect that their recent stealth layoffs were just an “office beautification” project: lay off the less attractive associates, to increase the average hotness of the remaining lawyers. (Lord only knows what the denizens of the recently closed Frankfurt office looked like.)
A few years ago, we wrote about Davis Polk’s reputation for hiring aesthetically appealing attorneys in the New York Observer:
Bar Belles: According to Rob, a 2L at NYU, one firm that’s in demand this season is Davis Polk & Wardwell. Why? “I’ve heard they have good-looking associates.”
Some things never change. When I interviewed a decade ago, Davis was already known as a bastion of beauty on aesthetically challenged Lexington Avenue. It was the firm of choice for the prom queen and king of my law school class — the editor in chief of the law journal, a luminous doll-like beauty with a vast family fortune, and her Abercrombie-handsome future husband. They were joined at Davis by enough comely Asian females to cast Memoirs of a Geisha.
And hotness matters more at Davis Polk these days, now that their redesigned website features attorney photos (for some, but not all, of the lawyers — perhaps it was an “opt in” regime?). From an observant tipster:
Have you noticed that Davis Polk’s new website has pictures of attorneys? Weren’t they once afraid of stalkers? Glad they’ve gotten over that. Or perhaps their associate corps is simply uglier now.
We think not. If you visit the Davis Polk — er, DavisPolk — website, and surf through the attorney profiles, you’ll still find hotties to spare.
Evidence of hotness, plus additional analysis, after the jump.
While we anxiously await word of new associate bonus announcements, it is in the meantime a quite slow news day. For those of you tired of talking about the New York Bar Exam Results, here is a brief diversion in the form of full-length attorney bio photos from the firm Fox Rothschild. Our tipster quips:
It’s back-to-school-photo time for law firms. What’s up with this Fox Rothschild’s cruel and unusual full-body photos?
We had a look at a few of the sampling of photos provided by the tipster and we totally get what he’s saying (Samantha Evans, pictured at right, is an exception). Interesting experiment, but stick with the head shots next time guys, alright? You don’t want opposing attorneys sizing you up that much.
Any other firms doing wacky things with attorney photos? Maybe some more artsy-fartsy stuff, a la Gibson Dunn’s Peekaboo? Send us anything strange that you come across.
Links to a few more examples of the full length photos are after the jump.
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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