As an attorney, you might receive lots of emails from legal directory marketing reps who tout the gravitas and visibility of their directories and encourage you to buy a listing. They can be quite persuasive. But how do you know when to respond to these inquiries and when to discard them? You may be asking yourself: “Are legal directories worth the money?”
The answer is, “It depends.” There are no hard and fast rules.
First, if you have a limited marketing budget, your money is probably better spent on your firm’s website design, optimized content, and SEO strategy. You will get a bigger bang for your buck by improving your website performance. Because, after all, if your website isn’t ranking near the top in Google search results, then your law firm isn’t very visible and will be hard to find online. No matter how great your attorneys are and how much money you paid for a legal directory listing, if potential clients can’t locate your site online, they’re not going to locate you.
Next, not all legal directories are created equal. Some of the very largest and most prestigious are much more important than the myriad of lesser directories that aren’t very relevant. The directories that are most well-known may be worth the investment if you have a large marketing budget and have done everything else you can to optimize your website and ensure SEO performance. We’ll discuss these directories in greater detail below.
Finally, keep in mind all the free and low-cost marketing at your fingertips that you can do – like networking at local business events, asking for client reviews, and building up your attorney referral efforts – before making decisions about larger marketing expenditures.
As stated above, some legal directories are much more important than others. Typically, the largest and most well-established offer greater visibility and reach. They likely also offer strong backlinking. Following are 5 directories you should know about:
1. AVVO Avvo is important because it is peer reviewed, and it includes reviews by consumers. Founded in 2006, its purpose was to provide answers to readers’ questions about legal topics, including newly emerging legal trends. It also provides attorney referrals. In an era when consumers read lots of reviews before making a buying decision, Avvo’s lawyer profiles can be useful because they include peer endorsements and client reviews. You can also find out about any disciplinary action a lawyer has faced. The drawback to this directory, like many others, is that your attorney profile is just one in a massive list of lawyers working in your legal specialty or geographic area, so it can be hard to stand out. You can get lost in the crowd.
2. SUPER LAWYERS Super Lawyers is also considered a prestigious legal directory. Founded in 1991, it includes a list of the top 5% of lawyers in every state in the U.S. This directory also has a “Rising Stars” category that identifies the top 2.5% of attorneys in each state who are under 40 years of age or have been in practice at least 10 years. Super Lawyers has its own criteria for selecting these attorneys.
Super Lawyers also issues a badge that can be displayed on your website and marketing materials that identifies you as a Super Lawyer. Some suggest this badge adds a level of trustworthiness and expertise to an attorney in the minds of consumers.
3. FINDLAW Launched in 1995, FindLaw is both a directory listing service and a legal information hub for legal professionals, consumers, and others who want to learn more about legal issues and various statutes. It is used for research by law students, too. FindLaw often shows up on page one in Google search results — as do some other prestigious directories — when querying a legal topic.
4. MARTINDALE Originally Martindale-Hubbell, this is certainly among the oldest legal directories. Founded in 1868, Martindale started as a legal information service that provided detailed background information to the public about law firms and the attorneys who worked there. Martindale is a multi-pronged legal service today that includes directory listings at Martindale.com as well as Nolo.com and Lawyers.com. They are all part of Martindale’s network. Originally published as a large, heavy tome titled Martindale-Hubbell, Martindale’s services are all available online today.
5. ATTORNEY AT LAW MAGAZINE For a different take on the legal directory, Attorney at Law Magazine offers its Local Legal Authorities listings. This service provides exclusivity (which several of the others don’t), because the attorneys chosen for the listing are the only one represented for a particular legal specialty in a particular geographic area. You’re not one lawyer on a crowded page of other lawyers in this listing.
Which legal directory is right for you depends on your budget, your goals, and the benefits you value most. Maybe backlinking is your primary aim, or maybe exclusivity is most important. Maybe you value a recognizable legal badge to add to your marketing. The choice is yours.
Remember, legal directories can be a nice add-on to your overall law firm marketing strategy, but they’re not the place to start. First, be sure your law firm is performing well on the basics of SEO. If you already have a winning SEO strategy and a world-class law firm website, then legal directories can add to your marketing visibility. Depending on your marketing budget, you may find a directory listing that is right for you.