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The Friday Five

You Need to Pimp Your LinkedIn Profile (Yes, You)

By Susan Kostal

It’s nearly June. Time to update your LinkedIn profile again!

After the inevitable January “fresh start” updates, many people leave their LinkedIn profile alone the rest of the year. If you’re a savvy social media user, you update it every three months with new pro bono work, awards and cases. So, if you haven’t refreshed your profile yet this year, I hate to break it to you, but you’re behind.

General counsel may not post much on LinkedIn, or like or comment, but they are there. Data confirms that for a growing number of in-house attorneys, LinkedIn is the first place they look to learn about you. That means a well-curated profile is vitally important.

Unlike your bio on your law firm’s website, you have complete control over your profile. This means you can describe your expertise, highlight the bits you want, the way you want, and update it as often as you need. Use the following as a guide.

1. Add a current photo. Especially if your photo is four or five years old. Don’t be that person who is unrecognizable at a conference or when you meet a client face-to-face. Make it a professional photo; don’t rely on a selfie. Only 2 percent of your peers (given that you have 1,000+ contacts) can make a Viking costume work.

2. Make the most of your descriptor. Use the summary of your profile to your greatest advantage. Unlike your law firm bio, which is written in the third person, you can use the first person on LinkedIn and talk about your goals, passions and professional aims. Adopt an authentic tone that lets your personality come through. Law firm bios typically don’t allow for an inviting or conversational tone. Here’s your chance to leverage that.

3. List law firms separately and use their logo. Under each firm you’ve worked for, list your top engagements. Feel free to add narrative. The case was out with the jury for only 45 minutes. The verdict came in under or over the settlement offer. Your team was chosen after 10 firms were interviewed. The case settled after your cross of the other side’s expert. Think of setting, character, conflict, resolution. What part did you play?

4. Add new skills so you can be endorsed for what you do best. If you haven’t yet added “legal research,” start with that. Also, specifically ask trusted peers for endorsements of the specific skills you’d like to promote.

5. Regularly ask for recommendations from peers and clients. Have at least one for each firm where you’ve worked, and ideally for each few years of your career. You can always decline to publish it if it’s not exactly what you want. And don’t be afraid to ask opposing counsel or co-counsel with whom you have a friendly professional relationship to recommend you. Nothing speaks louder than being called a worthy opponent.

The trend on LinkedIn is to move toward a conversational tone rather than the formal tone of a resume or CV. Use that to your advantage and craft your personal narrative. Look at the profiles of respected peers and formidable adversaries. What are they saying about themselves? Where do you want to fit in?

Related: Snap a Winning Headshot

Categories: Business Development, Friday Five, Lawyer Social Media
Originally published May 20, 2016
Last updated May 19, 2019
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Susan Kostal Susan Kostal

Trends at Work columnist Susan Kostal is a legal affairs PR, marketing and content strategy consultant. She is a former contributing editor for Attorney at Work and previously wrote a monthly column, Content Under Pressure. Susan has covered legal affairs as a journalist for nearly three decades. You can follow her on Twitter @skostal and view more of her content at

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