Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Readers' Poll

My son Dan is living in San Francisco and working as a sole practitioner, specializing in copyright and trademark law.  As part of his marketing strategy, he has developed a website and a blog.  He recently sent me the following email message:
“One thing I've been thinking about that it might be nice to hear some readers' views on is the choice between a 1st person and 3rd person narrative for a sole practitioner. Unlike some other sole practitioners, I decided not to use ‘us,’ and I've basically decided to use the 1st person narrative because it seems more personal. Although some people claim that the 3rd person sounds more professional. It would be interesting to know what your readers think on this [as it pertains to my website].”
So here’s your chance to voice your opinion.  I’m sure he will appreciate any feedback you can give!


Anonymous jamy said...

My vote would be to have the "professional" pages in the 3rd person and keep the blog in the 1st person. The 1st person on the prof pages leads to some awkwardness where Dan has to say really nice things about himself. While it feels weird to write about yourself in the 3rd person, in this context, I think it's easier on the readers.

And I think he needs a different, more relaxed, picture! It's SF, no tie needed. I see Dan in a tweed jacket, white shirt, reading a book or something. :)

9:54 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

But who is supposed to be the narrator? I think I would prefer the first person, otherwise I`d think he cannot speak for himself. Besides, it always helps to have at least one other lawyer around, to share opinions and be there in case you are off to court. It might simply be a room-mate. Then he can say "we"!

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I just looked at some sole practitioner websites via the site of the firm that built them, and there was a mix of first- and third-person voice. So in my opinion that could go either way, depending on the writing.

Among other tweaks, I'd suggest re-wording the "lavished praise" section; it reads a bit like a job application resume to me. I'd also close the home page with a short paragraph welcoming inquiry (after the bulleted items).

I'd second the suggestion for a different photo (in a nutshell: use a professional photographer, and professional backdrop/setting), or possibly drop it altogether.

Wishing him all the best, Barbara!


12:29 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

It looks nice. I can only comment from an "if it were me" perspective and I'm not a lawyer, so what do I know?

Anyway, if it were me, I'd keep the home page friendly and welcoming and in the first person but I'd switch over to third person, in a more detached, more resume-ish style for the education and experience page and maybe use bullets there instead of on the first page. That way he can be more aggressive in describing his qualifications and experience. People want their lawyers to be aggressive and that's would be the place to really show his stuff about what he's accomplished so far. The choice of words on that page just seems a little gentle to me and younger than it needs to somehow. I know he's just starting out, but there might be different ways of putting certain things that could make him seem less young and modest about his accomplishments. The blog is great as it is.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Well, since you asked I will add my two cents.

The blog is great in first person. For the web site I would not use first person. In fact I think it is best to steer away from any pronouns and keep the focus on the business by writing "the firm" or "the law office" or whatever lawyer-type things fit. At least on the home page. Although he is the sole practitioner he still wants to separate the personal Dan from the business Dan and first person is not the way to go.

I guess he already took down the picture because I couldn't find one. He seems like a good guy.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Thanks to everyone who took the time to review my site and give thoughtful and helpful comments. There obviously isn't universal agreement on this, as evidenced by the differing responses. I'll keep many of your suggestions in mind as I work on improving it.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Like everyone else seems to think, anything goes, and I'd probably lean a little toward 3rd person for the site and first for the blog. It's hard to write about one's self in the third - is there someone - like a friend, family member, absolute stranger - who could go in and tweak it to the right voice, as if s/he were writing it about Dan?

I think both look really good, though. As they are.

7:38 AM  
Blogger bozoette said...

Personally, I prefer first person for both the site and blog. It still seems very professional to me, yet approachable and not "legalese-y". (There I go, making up words again!) I do like the idea of the bulleted list for qualifications and accomplishments.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I second Dan's thanks for your opinions and suggestions. I am impressed that you took the time to follow the links and reply so thoughtfully. (I was never enamored with the photo -- he's much more handsome than it made him seem -- but as his mother I could not have gotten by with telling him so!)

Although I never had one of those bumper stickers that said "My Kid is an Honor Roll Student at Blah-blah School", I can honestly say how proud I am of Dan. He's going to have a terrific law career I'm sure.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to go, Dan! I hope your practice grows and thrives!


12:42 PM  
Blogger e said...

Looks like I'm a bit late to the party, so to speak. I did take a peak at Dan's website and blog, and liked both, nothing pretentious, just straight from the hip. From the sounds of things, he should do well and I wish him every success.

11:21 PM  

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