LinkedIn for Lawyers: 10 Steps to Optimise Your Profile

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Explore how you can optimise your LinkedIn profile to achieve the professional outcomes you want.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional platform, with 950 million users across more than 200 countries. Among lawyers, though, it remains a marketing footnote – a tool rarely used for anything other than casual networking.

In this article, I’m going to explain how you can use LinkedIn to drive revenue, get headhunted, and build partnerships, and show you 10 ways you can optimise your profile to get the outcomes you want.

How to Optimise Your LinkedIn Profile as a Lawyer

Like all online platforms, getting what you want out of LinkedIn demands an understanding of its algorithm.

Want to get discovered by recruiters? You need a search-optimised profile. Want to have decision-makers take you seriously? Your profile needs to look and sound professional. Want to get potential clients coming to you through LinkedIn? You need to have a profile that explains why you’re the right lawyer for them.

Skill alone isn’t enough to create a profitable law firm – and having the right skills/knowledge/experience isn’t enough to succeed on LinkedIn. Your profile – the hub from which you connect, share your expertise, and win over clients – needs to be optimised for both the LinkedIn algorithm and for humans.

Here are 10 tactical tips you can use to make your profile stand out.

1. Set Your LinkedIn Goals

Whenever you apply yourself to a task – at work or in life generally – ask yourself: why am I doing this? What purpose does this serve? Is this a good use of my time?

If you want to treat LinkedIn as a social networking channel, that’s more than fine. There’s nothing wrong with using it to keep up with the lives of your bosses, colleagues and associates.

But, as someone reading this guide, you probably want to leverage LinkedIn in a more meaningful way – for personal, career or revenue growth. So think about why you’re spending an hour or two each day logging in. If you want to get head-hunted by a Big Six firm, your approach should be tailored to that goal. Conversely, if you’re trying to drive revenue for your current firm, the types of content you share and connections you make will likely be quite different.

You need to have a clear goal in sight for your LinkedIn efforts to bear fruit. Define the goal, and the strategy – the how – will follow.

To help you with that definition, here are the five most common goals I hear people set for LinkedIn:

  • I want to build my credibility as an expert by creating content.
  • I want to get found by recruiters for my ideal role.
  • I want to build a network I can leverage for business purposes.
  • I want to promote my current workplace and share their ideas.
  • I want to attract revenue opportunities for my own business.

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2. Add a Professional Headshot

Too many professionals suffer from ‘pixelitis’ – poor-quality, outdated headshots that look like they’re from 2005. While a good profile picture definitely isn’t required for success, it does help build trust.

Humans use sensory data as an input for decision-making. In a LinkedIn context, that data is limited to text (your posts and bio) and visuals (your headshot and any videos/images you post). And the impact of visual aesthetics on perception and choice is well-documented – for example, how a product looks has been proven to affect both how sensitive consumers are to its price, as well as how much they’re actually willing to pay for it. It’s why market-leading brands pay tens of thousands of dollars for professional photoshoots and hire veteran movie directors to shoot 30-second commercials. They know the power that quality imagery has on consumers.

You might not be an iPhone or a Mercedes, but your online images matter just as much. When you’re trying to appeal to people who have never met you or heard of you before, you need to come across as convincing, trustworthy, professional, and worth paying for. High-quality imagery supports those traits. Pixelitis undermines them.

Paying a few hundred dollars every three or four years for a headshot that helps you stand out is worth it. A positive side-effect: you’ll also feel more confident about putting yourself out there. I’ve had too many executives and founders use an outdated picture as an excuse for not properly promoting themselves.

My biggest tip for getting a good headshot is to pay a professional photographer. They’ll be able to style you, position you, and align your headshots with your LinkedIn goals.

LinkedIn headshot example
An example of a high-quality headshot, taken by Gold Coast photographer Ryan Marais.

Here are some other useful things to remember:

  • Get your headshots done in-studio. It’s much faster and the results will be better – natural light is always harder to shoot in than controlled conditions.
  • Pick a wardrobe palette that matches your complexion. Don’t feel like you have to stick with the obligatory ‘professional’ blues, greys and blacks. It’s your headshot, so choose whatever colours work for you.
  • Think about the impact of shadow. More shadow means a more dramatic effect. Generally, steer clear of very heavy shadow (too bold) and full-frontal lighting (less feature definition).
  • Look natural and approachable. That doesn’t always have to mean a full-fledged smile. Sometimes a half-smile or even no teeth at all works well.
  • Go for a clean, clutter-free background. This helps your face stand out in-feed, where profile images are typically presented in very small circles that can be hard to see properly (especially on mobile). Colours like black, grey, white, blue, or even yellow can all work well.
  • Full headshots work better than two-thirds body shots. Although two-thirds body shots can look good when viewed properly, they make your face hard to see when your profile picture is shrunk down to an in-feed circle.
  • Don’t just use your headshot on your LinkedIn. If your firm doesn’t pay for staff photoshoots, ask them if you can upload your pixelitis-free headshot to their website.

3. Write Your LinkedIn Profile Summary

Your summary is, arguably, the most important part of your LinkedIn profile. It’s the one aspect that isn’t trammelled by LinkedIn’s structures. Here, you have a blank canvas that you can use however you want – to chronicle your experience and achievements, to explain your position on divisive industry debates, or to simply write an open letter to your target audience.

When you’re writing, though, keep in mind that you’re not writing for yourself. You’re writing for the reader. If you’re targeting recruiters, answer the questions they’re asking. Make it easy for them to understand what you’re good at and why. If you want to appeal to prospective clients, put yourself in their shoes. What problem do they have that a lawyer can help solve? Is solving that problem a priority for them right now? What do they look for when they’re comparing potential solutions providers (lawyers)?

Understanding how to write for an audience is hard. It’s why most businesses hire professional copywriters to do it for them. If you like writing, though, or you don’t have the budget for an experienced marketer, you can do it yourself.

Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

  • Use the language of your target audience. If you’re writing to get noticed by partners at successful firms, legalese and references to well-known matters might be the way to go. But, if you’re targeting business owners, plain, concise English would be a better route.
  • When in doubt, simplify. Simple ideas expressed complexly indicate a lack of understanding. Complex ideas expressed simply show mastery.
  • You’re not writing a resume. Feel free to play with structure and style. Some of the most effective summaries I’ve read are more like elevator pitches – sentence fragments, slang, and bullet points – than polished CVs.
  • Think about what you want your reader to walk away with. Do you want them to learn about where you’ve worked (information they can get more easily from the Experience section of your profile)? Or do you want them to find out how you work and why you’re the right candidate/lawyer/connection for them? Think of one key takeaway and communicate it well.
  • Use white space. No-one wants to read a dense paragraph of 10.5-point writing (especially on mobile). Instead, break up sentences and ideas with carriage returns. Let your writing breathe. Give your readers space to absorb what you’re saying.

Start using LinkedIn to get clients – fast.

InHanced is the easiest way for lawyers and practice managers to succeed on LinkedIn.

Explore InHanced for LinkedIn profile writing

4. Create a Compelling Background Photo

When someone clicks through to your LinkedIn profile, they see a few key pieces of information. Your name. Your profile picture. Your headline. Your follower count and/or connections. And, of course, your background photo – the banner image that sits behind your profile picture.

In marketing, we call that part of a web page that you see without scrolling ‘above the fold’. It’s incredibly valuable real estate. Unfortunately, most lawyers neglect their background photos. The default behaviour is to either use stock images of cities or not upload anything at all, neither of which is particularly compelling.

Instead, think about how you can use that space to seize and hold your target audience’s attention. Focus on adding value for them. Maybe you could have some text that tells people about your personal newsletter. Maybe you have a personal mantra that you apply in practice. Maybe you’ve achieved a certain amount in settlements this year, or you’ve received a significant award, or you gave time at a charity event.

Whatever you do, make your background photo more than just an empty space or an aesthetic nothing.

legal background photo for LinkedIn
An example of a background image for a commercial lawyer. Note that the text sits to the right to make room for the profile picture.

5. Switch Creator Mode On

To get the most out of LinkedIn, you need to do two things: engage with other people’s content and share your own. Creator Mode is a profile setting that you can turn on when you’re ready to start posting.

It makes your profile more discoverable, allows you to feature content (LinkedIn posts, newsletters, articles, links to external sites, or images/videos) on your profile, and gives you access to creator tools:

  • LinkedIn Live (live video streaming)
  • Newsletters (write and send email newsletters directly through LinkedIn)
  • Audio events (for interviews and roundtables)
  • Follow links that you can add as URLs or buttons to external websites

You can also add up to five hashtags that cover the topics you typically post about – for example, #commerciallaw or #testamentarytrusts.

6. Add Blog Posts and Published Articles

sam burrett featured section
The featured section of Sam Burrett, a legal optimisation strategist.

Using the ‘Featured’ section, which you can add to your profile after switching Creator Mode on, you can display different pieces of content just below your page’s header. Currently, there are five content types you can choose from:

  • Posts you’ve previously published on LinkedIn
  • An issue of a LinkedIn newsletter you’ve previously published
  • An article you’ve published on LinkedIn
  • A link to an external site
  • Media

There are plenty of ways to get creative with this section. As a lawyer, one of the most obvious uses is to add links to blog posts you’ve written on your company website or to third-party articles that you’ve authored – for example, a peer-reviewed paper or a piece in the LSJ. Making your ‘biggest hits’ available to new visitors on your page is a way to quickly build trust and credibility.

Leveraging different media types can also be a good idea. At the time of writing, you can upload most common media types, including videos, images, and PDFs, and choose a title, a description, and a thumbnail image for each. Think of the possibilities – a position piece you’ve published, a judgement in a case you won, a video introduction to you and what you do at your firm.

If you have a podcast or a newsletter, consider adding links to the respective pages on your firm’s website.

7. Summarise Your Professional Expertise

If you’re optimising your profile for recruitment, accurately summarising your professional expertise is essential. LinkedIn makes it easy with the ‘Experience’ section – a streamlined version of the information you’d present on a traditional CV. Here, you can add two types of listings: positions and career breaks. Positions have a rich set of fields that you can complete, allowing you to input everything from role title to job-related media.

One of the keys to adding a position is to fill out every relevant field completely and accurately. A vague, poorly defined role – ‘Family Lawyer at Blackburn & Associates’ – isn’t particularly helpful for recruiters.

The ‘Description’ field comes in handy here. With a 2,000-character limit – between 285 and 500 words – you can go into detail about what your role involved, what outcomes you achieved, and what skills you attained or nurtured. Remember to, where possible, give specific, measurable information that really helps a potential employer understand your value.

8. Start Connecting With Professional Contacts

Once your profile is complete, build your LinkedIn network by sending connection requests to peers, potential employers, clients, and referral partners. Start with people you know in real life – co-workers, friends, past employers.

Exhausted your real-world network? Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you’ve never met. LinkedIn is a fairly friendly space, and, on average, nine out of 10 cold connection requests you send to strangers will be accepted. It’s essentially a giant networking conference held online.

Of course, there’s no point in connecting with random businesspeople – you need to select connections based on the LinkedIn goal you defined earlier. For example, if you’re a Wills and estates lawyer, you might start adding a mix of accountants (referral partners), conveyancers (referral partners), and other succession law practitioners (potential employers/employees and people you can learn from).

To help you get started, I’ve highlighted some common connection strategies that may come in handy for different goals.

linkedin networking
The ‘People’ results that display when the following filters are applied: Location: Sydney, Australia, Industry: Legal Services, Title: Partner.

I want to build my credibility as an expert by creating content.

Prioritise adding other practitioners and the target audience for your services. To find people who are likely to engage with your content, follow popular experts in your niche (people with lots of followers), go to their latest posts, and then connect with people who have left interesting, well-reasoned comments.

You’ll be connecting with active LinkedIn users who share your interests and aren’t afraid to engage – the perfect audience.

I want to get found by recruiters for my ideal role.

Prioritise adding people from your ideal workplace (especially decision-makers) and recruiters who serve the legal industry (there are a number of specialist legal recruitment firms).

You can find people who work at a specific company by typing in the company name in the search bar, clicking the company result that appears, then selecting the ‘People’ tab, and then refining by title, keyword, or location. For example, if you wanted to work at a Brisbane office of a Big Six firm, you might add ‘Brisbane’ to the ‘Where They Live’ section, then refine your search with ‘partner’ as a keyword.

I want to build a network I can leverage for business purposes.

Focus on the types of people who are likely to, in some way, be relevant to you both now and in the future. Typically, this includes other lawyers, professionals whose work crosses over with yours, and senior industry figures (who may not necessarily be practising lawyers). Keep in mind that a diverse network can be helpful – you never know where your next opportunity is going to come from.

I want to promote my current workplace and share their ideas.

Although it might be tempting to focus on promoting your firm to prospective clients, think of your ideas as seeds. Assuming those seeds are genuinely valuable, the next step is to find fertile ground in which to sow them. Not every idea will be suited to both practitioners and clients.

For example, if your firm regularly published thought leadership on migration law, you might be better off focusing on lawyers and government stakeholders than clients. Conversely, frameworks for IP protection might be of great interest to both practitioners and businesses. Tailor your networking strategy appropriately.

I want to attract revenue opportunities for my own business.

How you approach driving revenue opportunities depends on whether you’re a B2C (criminal, Wills and estates, personal injury, and so on) or B2B (commercial) lawyer.

If you work in a B2C practice area, your ideal customers may not be on LinkedIn – or, at least, not to the extent that you can easily find them. Instead, a good strategy can be to prioritise adding referral partners, who could range from accountants to other lawyers, depending on your practice area.

If you’re a commercial lawyer, your ideal customers are most likely on LinkedIn. You can easily find them by searching decision-maker roles in the search bar (for example, ‘CEO’) and then refining by location and industry; you can also try asking decision-makers at your firm for a list of target accounts and then actively connecting with employees from those companies.

9. Start Engaging With Content in Your Niche

When you start to market yourself or your business, it’s easy to fall into a self-focused mindset. After all, you’re a skilled practitioner who delivers effective legal services – why wouldn’t people want to hear about you?

But LinkedIn is a social network (the operative word being ‘social’). It’s not a one-way channel for you to blast a message out to hundreds of strangers. It’s a place to create relationships with other professionals, where every interaction should add value and build community. No-one likes hard sells at networking events, and no-one like flagrant self-promotion on LinkedIn either.

Instead, follow the wisdom of Epictetus – listen (and engage) twice as much as you post. There are two main ways to engage:

  1. Use the Like button to select the Like, Celebrate, Support, Funny, Love or Insightful reactions. Reactions fuel the post’s performance in the LinkedIn algorithm, helping it reach more people.
  2. Leave a comment, and make sure it adds value. Don’t be that person who just posts “100%!” or “I agree!” – contribute something meaningful. Your honest (but respectful) opinion about their post, your own perspective on the topic in question, related anecdotes, or related resources can all be good types of comments to leave.

You can also repost content – but, again, the key is to add value. Add your own thoughts, summarise longer posts in bullet points, or say why it’s relevant to your network.

10. Create a Content Strategy and Begin Posting

Creating a winning LinkedIn content strategy isn’t easy. In fact, you’ll probably fail and pivot a lot before you find the right approach.

The main thing to keep in mind is that failing is normal. Your first three, four or five months of continuous posting will probably only gain a handful of likes per post (unless you have a larger-than-normal network size). You’ll also probably find that certain topics/approaches resonate with your target audience better than others. Take those learnings and adapt your strategy – but don’t give up.

With that said, there are plenty of ways you can set yourself up for success. One framework I like is the ‘InHanced Intersection’.

InHanced Intersection

There are no sure bets in marketing – especially on social media – but delivering content that hits at the intersection of those three spheres is generally a good approach.

Let’s break each one down.

  1. ‘Problems your target audience needs solved’ is self-explanatory. What legal problems are your target audience grappling with that you can help with?
  2. ‘Unique experience or expertise’ refers to the unique/rare data that you, an individual practitioner, possess. This doesn’t mean you have to be a Doyle’s Guide solicitor to post on LinkedIn – ‘experience’ could be as simple as your unique learnings during PLT, or how you tackled a particularly complex matter.
  3. ‘Unique ways of presenting information’ can refer to the medium (text, video, graphic, and so on), the format (for example, a TikTok-style video instead of a webinar-style recording), or the style (sassy, punchy writing instead of bland, long-winded sentences). You don’t have to be the only one presenting information in a certain way, but it should be different to whatever the norm is.

When you hit the ‘sweet spot’, your content should be highly helpful/entertaining/inspiring for your target audience, add enough unique value that they keep coming back for more, and be presented in a way that gets people listening.

Take some time to think about it. Peruse LinkedIn. Talk to colleagues, mentors, and people from your target audience – chances are that you have more unique expertise/experience than you think you do.

Once you’ve done some research, come up with four to six topics to post about. These should sit at the intersection of your audience’s problems and your expertise/experience. They could be specific practice areas, specific industries, or specific use cases.

For example, as an estate planning lawyer wanting to land high net worth clients, you might choose to focus on:

  • SMSF succession planning
  • Business succession planning
  • Tax-effective estate structures
  • Estate planning for alternative assets

It’s also important to decide how frequently you want to post. While most LinkedIn experts recommend once per day, you need to choose a frequency that’s going to be achievable and doesn’t compromise value addition – don’t post when you have nothing to say.

Following on from the previous example, let’s say you decide to post four times a week (maybe five if a miracle happens and your case load lightens).

You might choose to set aside an hour each morning to be on LinkedIn – see if your firm lets you attribute this time as a marketing contribution so it doesn’t eat into your KPIs. You could engage for 15 minutes, write/film your post for half an hour, and then engage for another 15 minutes.

Alternatively, you could brain dump and write all four posts on the weekend in an hour, engage for half an hour each day, and use a free scheduling tool like Buffer to automatically post for you. You could also write your posts when inspiration strikes, post manually each morning, and then engage for a few minutes before work, after work, and on your break.

There’s no ‘right’ way to plan or create LinkedIn content. At the end of the day, it’s about doing what works for you – and what delivers the results you want.

Examples of Lawyer Profiles in the Wild

Ian Raspin

Ian Raspin LinkedIn

Key Takeaway: Ian’s posting style.

Ian Raspin’s profile is a great example of a leading practitioner using LinkedIn effectively. His posts about taxation and succession law break down potentially dry, dense topics into clear, helpful bites that even non-practitioners can get value from.

James d’Apice

James d'Apice LinkedIn

Key Takeaway: James’ use of humour and video.

James d’Apice is a genuine corporate law influencer – his Coffee and a Case Note series is a great example of a lawyer leveraging video effectively. His top-performing content on LinkedIn typically blends humour and personalisation with short captions and square videos.

Sandy Mak

Sandy Mak LinkedIn

Key Takeaway: Sandy’s background image.

Sandy Mak is one of the few lawyers I’ve seen who uses their background images effectively. Her decision to showcase social proof – in this case, a testimonial – instantly helps build trust with users who view her profile.

Jamie Burreket

Jamie Burreket LinkedIn

Key Takeaway: Jamie’s use of the Featured section.

It’s easy to neglect the Featured section on your profile, but Jamie leverages it as a way to attract talent to his firm. Remember: it’s good to be creative. The Featured section can include more than just blog posts and podcast links.

Lucy Dickens

Lucy Dickens LinkedIn

Key Takeaway: Everything.

Lucy’s profile is a study in good optimisation. Her profile image is professional and memorable, her background image showcases her product and social proof, and her bio is minimalist but effective. If you need an exemplar to inspire you, start following Lucy on LinkedIn.

Is LinkedIn a Worthwhile Investment for Lawyers?

Lawyers, like many professional services practitioners, are often idealists. They believe in a world where excellence rises to the top, where skill naturally leads to revenue, where laurels are claimed by the most competent practitioners. Unfortunately, the market is less forgiving – skilful marketing and effective business strategy are the drivers of revenue. In 2023, it’s not always the best lawyers who win.

Of course, your professional reputation is a part of marketing. Whether you’re promoting your personal brand or waving the banner of your firm, how people perceive you affects whether they buy from you. But the bigger puzzle piece is getting your name out to the people who haven’t heard about you.

That’s where online platforms come in. In comparison to analogue channels such as direct mail, digital marketing lets you get in front of more people at a fraction of the cost. You can also target your marketing at people who are commercially relevant to you – potential clients or referrers, rather than random citizens who don’t need your services.

LinkedIn happens to be one of the most effective digital channels. Why? Because it’s designed specifically for businesspeople to network – and, if you’re a commercial lawyer or get clients via referral, that means you’re in a giant conferencing space with thousands of revenue opportunities.

Despite the channel’s saturation over the past few years, it’s still a highly effective way to connect with those people. It’s also a great way to build up your reputation as an expert in your field, or even establish yourself as a thought leader (someone who blazes an intellectual trail from 0 to 1 with wholly new ideas, rather than going from 1 to 2 through expertise and specialisation).

Of course, LinkedIn was founded as a recruiting network, and that’s still one of its primary uses. Even if you’re averse to driving revenue or sharing your knowledge online, having a well-optimised profile can help you find relevant job listings and get head-hunted by recruiters. According to a 2020 survey, 72% of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and screen candidates – and that doesn’t include partners, general managers, and other key decision-makers in the hiring process.

Finally, even if you’re not currently in a role where LinkedIn feels commercially relevant, it happens to be a great platform for professional learning too. Experts and specialists from different practice areas are constantly posting news, learnings and theories – personal, field-tested knowledge that can be hard to find on blogs or podcasts. If you want an easy way to broaden and deepen your professional knowledge, a well-curated LinkedIn feed delivers CPD in 3,000-character nuggets.

So, in summary: LinkedIn is a worthwhile investment for almost all lawyers, particularly those who want to:

  • drive revenue for themselves and/or their firms
  • build reputations as experts, thought leaders, or critical thinkers
  • network and connect with other lawyers
  • get in front of recruiters and decision-makers
  • enhance their professional knowledge (for free).

If you’re struggling to put together a marketing strategy for your firm, read this article. It’s written specifically for law firms and tells you exactly what elements your strategy should contain.

Summary

LinkedIn isn’t a magic bullet for professional problems. You can’t use LinkedIn to instantly create a revenue stream. You can’t use it to forge partnerships for a firm with a poor reputation. You won’t get instantly headhunted just by adding a few keywords to your profile.

It is, however, an excellent marketing channel – one that both law firms and individual practitioners can use to drive serious business impacts. By optimising your personal profile and creating a strong content strategy that aligns with your LinkedIn goals, you’re laying the foundations for long-term success.

Remember: LinkedIn is an investment in your future. Optimise. Experiment. Learn. Pivot. Repeat. The results: a powerful personal brand and an engaged network that you can take wherever you go.

Changelogs provide transparency into when and why we make changes to certain articles. We do not log minor stylistic changes or grammatical fixes.

1 November 2023

  • Number of LinkedIn users updated.

By Duncan Croker

Duncan is a copywriter with a background in editing and storytelling. He loves collaborating with brands big and small, and thrives on the challenges of hard marketing.