During last Wednesday’s customers-only Mastermind webinar, I was asked an important and timely question. Normally, what happens in the Mastermind sessions typically stays there. However, I think this is a question that is so timely and generally applicable to attorneys — regardless of whether they have a LawLytics website — that it’s worth discussing in a public blog post.
For context, the topic of the Mastermind session was about crafting highly effective attorney bios on the firm’s website. To paraphrase the question, which came at the end of the session:
Do you advise showing your interest or bias in the topic? In some fields, as an attorney, you can take a theoretical or political stance that might resonate positively with some and negatively with others. For example, if you’re an immigration attorney do you recommend expressing an opinion about political issues surrounding immigration? Or, if you’re a criminal defense lawyer, do you recommend expressing a stance on protests vs. riots, or on the issue of bail?
The essence of the question was whether, as an attorney, it makes marketing sense to take a stance that may be attractive to some people but might alienate others.
There are times where it makes sense to remain neutral. But in most consumer-facing types of practices, your potential clients will respond better to you if they understand that you share the same passions as they do.
If you’re an immigration lawyer representing immigrants, it makes sense to express a pro-immigration stance. And the deeper you can weave your convictions into the narrative about you and your firm, the better. Perhaps your beliefs are what led you to advocate for immigrants. Great — that shows why you do what you do, and why you love it. And it makes your potential clients feel secure knowing that you care about them and their matter, and not just the money that representing them brings.
If you’re a criminal defense attorney who is passionate about the fundamental unfairness of the system, the inherent biases, or the disparate treatment of people by law enforcement, shout it from the rooftops. And if there’s a personal story behind why you feel the way you did that led you to defend people accused of crimes, so much the better. If you can relate to your potential clients, and they feel that they can relate to you, they will gravitate to you and trust you with their cases.
If you’re a personal injury lawyer and you hate insurance companies with a passion, make it clear on your website. If you’re an estate planning lawyer who dies a little inside every time the government takes more of a decedent’s net worth than is absolutely necessary, make that crystal clear. If you’re an employment lawyer with a passion for fighting workplace bias, explain yourself. And when possible, give examples.
Certainly, there are times when expressing your stance or opinion is not advisable. If you are a business attorney and you represent entities composed of people with a range of beliefs, then it is best to keep your stances to yourself. If you’re a DUI lawyer who secretly believes that MADD has it right, expressing your stance publicly will hurt your business.
Remember, people hire people (not law firms) when they need to hire an attorney. The more context that you can give to your prospective clients about you that makes them like you, trust you and understand that you’re an expert in helping people with their exact problem, the better. And no lever is more powerful than a strong stance on a debatable topic when that stance aligns with your prospects’ world view.