Tone and Profiles: Who Do You Want to Be Online?

As professionals, our reputation and image are important parts of recruiting the kind of clients we want. Find out how the tone of your website and blog, together with your online profile can create an image of who you may, or may not, want to be online.

Who You Are Online Attracts Different Kinds of Clients

Last week, I spoke to a new potential blogging client. He is one of three lawyers at their firm. He was the family lawyer; his partner was the criminal defense lawyer. He had a very clear impression of the kind of clients he wanted to recruit. He didn’t want to work with people who would fight over custody just for the principle of the thing. High conflict wasn’t his thing. Instead, he wanted to present an image of a lawyer who helped clients face a difficult situation and come through it to find the best solution possible.

But when it came time to talk about his partner’s perspective, he didn’t have too much to say. He and his partner had never discussed whether he was tough-as-nails at trial or more like his partner. Since they each had their own caseloads, he had not seen his partner in action for many years. I scheduled a follow-up call to talk to his partner and get his take on who he wanted to be online.

It may be hard to define your approach within your profession. You may never have taken the time to reflect on which cases you like best, or whether you get more enjoyment out of winning a hard legal battle or resolving an emotional negotiation. But answering these questions can direct what your web content should look like, and sound like. Potential customers are looking for a specific type of lawyer when they search online. While practice area is important, they also want to know if your philosophy matches their approach to their legal issue.

Finding a Balance Between Different Approaches Takes Careful Writing

But what if your firm has lawyers that do both? I had this challenge earlier this year. A father-son firm hired me to rewrite their website. Again, the practice areas were family law and criminal defense. The son had taken on all the family issues, had become a mediator, and been certified in collaborative divorce – a non-adversarial approach to the practice. The father had 50 years of experience fighting for his clients in the criminal arena and prided himself on being “aggressive.”

How was I supposed to write to please them both? I could tailor the tone of each practice area to the attorney handling those cases, but what about the shared spaces like the home page?

There is no easy answer. When attorneys in the firm take different perspectives to the practice of law, the web content needs to reflect the same careful balance that happens in the office. Sometimes, like with my father-son team, the solution is to create divisions between practice areas using headings and landing pages that highlight each lawyer’s strength. In larger firms, where lawyers with different approaches work side-by-side, the solution may be to highlight the diversity available within the office, and the ability to match each client with a lawyer who would meet their needs.

Online Profiles Set the Tone for Individual Professionals

Your website is one thing – you can hire someone to write that content for you – but your other online profiles also affect how people see you online. As lawyers, especially, we are creating a reputation whenever we are in a public space. If your marketing team has created an image of you as an easy-going, empathetic attorney, but your social media posts are full of anger and vitriol, your referral partners won’t believe your web content.

As a professional, you need to be especially careful about your online presence. Who you want to be online isn’t just about your website or blog. Your professional reputation depends on consistency of message across the firm, and across your personal social media platforms.

Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist in Ferndale, Michigan. She writes blogs and web content for lawyers and small businesses. If your firm needs help tailoring a professional persona online, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.

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