So you need to get a portrait taken for your marketing materials. Your website bio needs a picture, and you could also use a default photo for speaking engagements. You are important, or at the very least need to look important so important people will think you are important.

When deciding on the backdrop for your profile photo, you may have thought about using the law books in your office.1 Why not? It seems like the go-to for lawyers. It tells your clients that you have read a lot of books, so they do not have to. In fact, this is the exact reason most doctors’ portraits are taken in front of cadavers.

Law books as a backdrop are generic. If you want to be a generic lawyer, by all means stand in front of a generic backdrop. But if you are into rebellion, here are a few ideas to set you apart from your unoriginal peers.

Hard Drivesshutterstock_103161299

Hard drives are the new books. Fact.

Standing in front of ink-covered sheets of wood pulp is so 1800s. Standing in front of a row of computer processing power that will likely be obsolete in eighteen months is very 2015. Hard drives are the law books of the 21st century.

How many books can you fit on a shelf? 30?

How many e-books can you fit on a hard drive? 30,000,000?

So which is more impressive now?

Featured image: “Confident Businesswoman in Datacenter 3D” from Shutterstock.



Stand outside in a park while there is still daylight and smile (for the first time this year), and give people the impression you worry about applying sunscreen. You are so good at practicing law you are never concerned about how many billable hours you are missing out on by enjoying fresh, un-recycled air.

Other lawyers who see this photo will assume you are successful because you had enough time in your day to tell the photographer “let’s go outside for this shot.”

This shot also gives you the dual benefit of great lighting and also being surrounded by law books in their natural, unprocessed form. The more trees in the background, the more law books you effectively have.

Featured image: “young asian businesswoman in the park” from Shutterstock.

A Law Library

all the law books

Who has more law books than a law library?


Featured image: “Handsome lawyer in the law library at the university” from Shutterstock.

A Big Building


You took the time out of your day to get a great photograph taken outside. You are not chained to your desk 24/7. Excellent job. This screams production value.

Corporate clients love photos with big building backdrops. Corporate clients work in big buildings, see your picture, and think (or chant) “he or she is one of us.”

Moreover, when clients see the big building backdrop, they can imagine there are probably a lot of law books inside that building.

Featured image: “Confident businessman portrait” from Shutterstock.



The cityscape backdrop is for the lawyer who is contemplating jumping in front of a taxi cab but decides to give life another shot at the last minute.

The cityscape photo says, “Life in the big city is moving fast, and so is your law practice.”

That taxi cab trunk is probably filled with law books.

Featured image: “Young urban professional businesswoman in New York City Manhattan.” from Shutterstock.

A Local Landmark


Exploit the positive feelings that your clients have associated with some local landmark, whether it is the burning tire yard or the vandalized water tower. It is an easy way to demonstrate that you come from the boring town you serve.

Since it is unlikely that your town’s local landmark has books in it, bring some law books with you on your photo shoot and scatter them in the background. This will allow you to feign pride in your awful town and simulate intelligence.

The lawyer who takes this photo is secretly hoping that she will be moving soon and not have to use this photo for very long.

Featured image: “Confident young businessman standing against Big Ben clock tower, London, UK” from Shutterstock.

A Courthouse


A courthouse? Real original. This is probably one small step above law books.

The small step being the amount of effort it took to get you from the office to the courthouse.

You probably chose the courthouse as a backdrop because it shows clients that you occasionally go to court. This is impressive stuff.

Nonetheless, there are a lot of law books in courthouses.

Featured image: “Outdoor shot of a chic Caucasian businesswoman. Lifstyle image.” from Shutterstock.

A Studio Backdrop


The studio backdrop shows that you are an adult who ordered the deluxe package with enough wallet-sized photos for both sets of grandparents. Good for you.

The studio backdrop is a bargain as long as you have a coupon. This backdrop is a favorite for those lawyers who want a solid photo for the “deceased former members of the firm” section of the website. Or it is a great option for the lawyer who wants people to think he is much older than he is, because no one would dare get a studio portrait taken after 2000, so he must be at least fifteen years older and using an outdated photo.

While the line at the Sears photo department hopefully was not too long, you probably at least got to chat with the insufferably cheery family in matching sweaters waiting to take their Christmas photo. In July. Then, when it was time to take your photo, you probably sat on the same chair as the child who just got a questionable haircut (but mom totally thinks he pulls it off well).

You should probably avoid the studio backdrop because there are no law books here and clients are not going to be impressed.

Featured image: “Young businessman in red shirt on burgundy” from Shutterstock.

A Green Screen


At the end of the day, law books are not impressive. You know what is impressive? A wall of law books that are Photoshopped in.

Featured image: “This is success! Cheerful mature man in formalwear looking at camera and smiling while showing his thumb up and standing against white background” from Shutterstock.

Literally Anywhere Else in Your Office


Just get on the elevator.

Go downstairs.

Have the lobby security guard take your photo in front of the fake lobby plant that for some reason still gets watered by the maintenance crew.

This is still better than standing in front of law books.

I hope you are proud of yourself.

Featured image: “Portrait of handsome businessman using the internet at the hotel lobby” from Shutterstock.

  1. This tradition purportedly started with the U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay, who could be seen holding a book in a portrait. Not wanting to feel inferior to Justice Jay, later Chief Justice Edward Douglass White reportedly stated, “Jay is holding one book. Put a whole lot of books behind me so it looks like I read more books than him.” 


  1. Since Matthew & Drnovsek Law is in Chicago, we figured the downtown cityscape would work.

  2. John Colby Cowherd says:

    You forgot to mention the use of a framed law school diploma or bar admission certificate as a photo backdrop. I know some great attorneys who use this for their profile, but I never liked it.

  3. Dolgion Khurelchuluun says:

    Taking picture in front of computer servers is the coolest one, but no one will see him/her as a lawyer.

  4. Christina Scalera says:

    This is hilarious. Love it.

  5. Tori White says:

    May I add sitting at a round (not square) conference table conversing (congenially) with similarly suited lawyers (actors). Because, really, all lawyers get along… apparently.

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