Imagine you’re an executive next to me on a plane. “So what do you do for a living,” you ask. “I’m a legal-writing consultant,” I respond.
At this point, the executive hides politely behind The Wall Street Journal.
But say I respond like this: “I help lawyers write better.”
Now the questions flow, and the executive leans in to hear more.
The same goes for practicing lawyers: You can get people interested in your work, but only if you make them see how they could benefit.
Here are four examples of attorneys describing their practices in the ordinary way. After each example, I’ll suggest how those attorneys could have done more to entice a potential client or employer.
(Hint: No matter how dry you think your work may be, you help clients save money, win disputes, or grow their businesses.)
- Not this: “Researched case law related to personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction.”
But this: “Advised clients on when, where, and how they could sue defendants.”
- Not this: “Drafted and distributed deal documents in several large transactions; incorporated parties’ written and verbal comments; and organized and monitored the closing process for each such transaction.”
But this: “Helped clients acquire target companies and advised them on how to structure deals to reach their long-term business goals.”
- Not this: “As part of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law team, Mr. Alito has researched, drafted, and filed a number of successful Motions for Partial Summary Judgment and Memorandums in Support of Motions to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).”
But this: “In several multimillion-dollar discrimination cases, Mr. Alito has persuaded courts to stop cases from going to a jury and to block complaints from moving forward.”
- Not this: “Ms. Breyer’s robust tax practice involves continued monitoring of domestic and international tax decisions and the application of those decisions to transactions of varying type and complexity.”
But this: “In serving her tax clients, Ms. Breyer identifies opportunities for companies to seize on recent changes in domestic and international tax law and advises them on how to structure transactions to minimize the risk of a taxable event.”
Now go back to that firm bio or resume and read it from the perspective of a potential employer or would-be client. Do your eyes glaze over—or do you reach to pick up the phone?