Lawyer-written bios? A scary thought

Catching up on some blog reading this morning, I almost choked on my coffee when I read this from Denise Howell:

“What I really want to see though is a firm using technology that lets lawyers (all and sundry, of course) readily customize their bios at will, on the fly, with information that really tells people something about the bio-ee.”

Through her blog, Denise has proven herself to be a clever and witty writer. But would she really want to give all the lawyers in her firm carte blanche over their bios?

Professional bios are both an art and a science. Having consulted with a number of firms on the topic, I’ve come to appreciate well-written bios as minimalist masterpieces, conveying carefully crafted marketing messages in just a few concise paragraphs. Key is that the firm define and control the messages being conveyed. Bios are but one element of a firm’s overall strategic game plan. Allowing each lawyer free rein over his or her bio would be marketing anarchy and firm suicide.

And may I share with you a secret? Lawyers do not necessarily write well. I have seen what lawyers produce when firms ask them to draft their own bios. More often than not, it isn’t pretty. Grammatical errors aside, too many lawyers see bios as an opportunity to preen rather than to promote. Simply put, they don’t get it.

I would relish reading Denise’s self-written bio and would hope it had an RSS feed to alert me to updates. She is the exception to what I believe to be the rule: Leave bios to the professionals.