Internet Newsletter for Lawyers
March/April 2007, by Delia Venables

Fee-earner profiles on your website
by Alison Hunt

What is the best way to get good fee-earners’ profiles onto your firm’s website? Most clients like learn something about their solicitor. Search engines will also lead a prospective client looking for a particular solicitor, to your website via the profile.

People usually enjoy talking about their work, so it is strange that if you ask fee-earners to write something about themselves many of them will find it very difficult. After considerable delays, you are likely to receive profiles of very different content, style and length.

There is an easier way, the basis of which is not to ask the fee-earners to write their own profiles. As they are more comfortable talking about themselves, the secret is to talk to each fee-earner and to build a profile out of notes taken during the conversation. The process is very quick, ten minutes being ample time to interview each fee-earner. It is not even necessary to arrange a meeting, or book a room, because fee-earners are more relaxed if the interview is conducted over the telephone.

The person writing the profiles must remember that it is essential to write down the answers to each question accurately, and to compose the profile entirely out of what the fee-earner has said. Some fee-earners will need coaxing on certain areas, such as the variety of work they do, in order to obtain enough material to work with.

List of Questions

In fact, it is best to have a standard list of questions including obvious ones such as the fee-earner’s degree, name of their university, their current position, and how long they have been in the firm. It is also helpful to give the year of their admission because it helps the clients to assess their experience, and it is worth listing, at the end of the profile, the legal professional bodies to which the fee-earner belongs.

However, in order to get at the essence of the individual, it is essential to ask what is the fee-earner’s approach to his or her work and clients. This question usually causes the fee-earner to pause, sometimes for quite a long time, because they have to identify and describe their personal qualities in relation to their work. The answer will usually provide the most interesting part of their profile because it will be something special about the individual - perhaps a caring person, or very commercially-orientated, or a keen representative of children, or a conveyancer who takes great pride in keeping clients constantly informed of progress.

There are some things that are probably best left out of profiles - for example, the subject of personal hobbies. Some fee-earners are under the impression that stating they are a keen golf player will endear them to potential clients who also play golf. This has the danger of giving the impression that work is secondary to hobbies. The client is looking for the best lawyer to undertake his or her work. All the information provided should add to the business profile of the fee-earner.

Another example is the names of cases in which the fee-earner has been involved. Case names are very seldom familiar to non-lawyers, although they would be useful in a profile aimed at other lawyers, or certain limited professions such as chartered surveyors where familiarity with cases is more likely.

Finally, profiles should be brief - 3 or 4 short paragraphs are ideal. It is sufficient space to provide a good overview of the fee-earner’s current practice, and the essence of the individual’s approach and motivation. Additionally, it can be read without having to scroll down the website page.

It is obviously sensible and courteous to show the draft profiles to the individual fee-earners for approval before they are seen by anyone else. After all, the description of each individual is a sensitive matter to that particular person.

Alison Hunt,, is a copywriter of websites and brochures for law firms, and editor of legal updates and client newsletters.

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