Experts Shine with Winning Word Selections

By: Margaret Grisdela is President of Legal Expert Connections, specializing in marketing and business development in the legal market and litigation support markets.  You can reach her at

A picture may paint a thousand words, but in the expert witness field you still need to find the right words to describe your practice.  It may sound easy, but it is not!  Even a seasoned writer searches for appropriate language.

Why is word selection important?

Reason # 1:  Attorneys and paralegals find you online by searching on keywords.

Reason # 2:  Search engines categorize your website based on Metatags and keyword density.

Reason # 3:  Prospects look for certain phrases when they need an expert witness with very specific experience.

Expert witness directories like HG give an additional boost to your listing by promoting your keywords with Google text ads and higher search engine positioning.

Five sources for industry buzz words

Now is a good time to take an inventory of your website and promotional material.  If your copy is stale, here are some good places to look for useful ideas to freshen up your own service descriptions.

  1. Monitor competitor sites and maintain a file of “best practices.” Personalize and incorporate the good ideas into your own work to keep your website and printed materials current.
  2. Review websites of law firms that specialize in your area of practice.  Read their newsletters, articles and practice descriptions to gather ideas on important words and phrases you can use.
  3. Take notice of the presentations being made at leading industry conferences.  You will discover newsworthy subjects described with catchy titles and important keywords.
  4. Visit industry association websites to look for fact sheets, press releases or newsletters that outline current events.  Add appropriate keywords to your own website to stay up-to-date.
  5. Explore federal, state and local government agency websites.  These can be an excellent reference source for legislation, regulations and enforcement actions.

Read national newspapers, local dailies, state Bar Journals, online legal news sources and trade publications to see how emerging trends and key industry issues are described.

The “Ins” and “Outs” of good copywriting

Lawyers frequently need to know about standards and practices.  Identify terms and protocols that are reasonable and customary in your field and include the technical terminology in your service descriptions.

Standards-setting organizations govern best practices in many industries.  If you are an expert witness in standards issued by ANSI, JCAHO, IEEE, ISO, UL or the alphabet soup of other organizations, spell out the organization name, include the acronym and specify the standard when you describe your pertinent experience.

Industry metrics frequently guide professionals when they evaluate a situation and determine a recommended course of action.  Examples include the Richter earthquake scale, the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale or the Stanford-Binet IQ scale.  You will want to document every scale in your field that you can address in a court of law.

How often have you visited a website that spouts so many generalities that it sounds like “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah”?  BORING!  Do not let this happen to you.  You will not distinguish yourself in a crowded field by relying on general terms like “courteous professional services” or “high quality litigation services.” 

About that picture worth a thousand words

Make sure your photo is prominent on your website.  If you are the sole proprietor of a small consulting service, you may want to place your photo on your home page.  Larger firms should include photos on the web page that introduces the executive team members.

A professional photographer is your best choice for a photo, which should be no more than one to two years old.  Dress for your photo like you would dress for the courtroom.  Be sure to place your full name, title and credentials under your photo when it appears online or in print. 

Ask your webmaster to include an “ALT” HTML tag as part of the coding for your online photo, which means that your name will appear in a small box when a visitor moves their mouse over your photo.  Search engines read and remember ALT tags, so this can help reinforce your Internet presence.

A word of caution

Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a straightforward business document with a generally prescribed format.  Present your work history, publications and other accomplishments in a very straightforward business manner.  This is not the place to indulge in extraneous descriptive text. 

Keep in mind that we work in the legal field, which can be a two-edged sword.  Choose your words carefully.  Do not overstate your expertise. Do not imply that your contribution will be the deciding factor in winning a case.

In summary

Stick to the facts, describe your services thoughtfully and you will be well positioned for enhanced online visibility.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Margaret Grisdela is President of Legal Expert Connections, specializing in marketing and business development in the legal and litigation support markets. She served as the 2005 President of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. You can reach her at  

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