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Should I Be Paying for Lists & Directories?

There are a host of lists, directories, and accolades available to lawyers today. Some are “by invitation only," though the qualifications are sometimes a little vague. Others collect a fee on the back end, if you accept a case through them. And others don’t charge you for a listing, but you can buy ads or premium placements. Still others allow you to purchase “badging” to include on your website (or wherever you’d like) touting your selection to the “exclusive list”.

If you pay for your listing in any way, regardless of how “established” this list or publication may be, you should consider it advertising and evaluate it accordingly. Are you getting your money’s worth?

Let’s face it. The practice of law has changed. We don’t use directories and indices to do legal research anymore. Why would we still need to be listed in a book so that people can find where we are and what we do? The internet and its search engines have made these listings obsolete. But wait, you say, this publication ranks lawyers. Well, perhaps the publication publishes lawyers’ rankings of each other. But Google publishes rankings from actual clients (ideally) in a format that people are used to seeing and using.

Some lists and directories were created to sell their position in search engine results. In other words, if someone is searching for a lawyer in a particular location who does a particular kind of work, the directory site supposedly appears high in their search engine results. And the argument goes that if you are on their directory, then they will find you. The reality is that you can put yourself directly in those search engine results without being listed on the directory. With the sophistication of search engines and the savvy of advertisers and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) masters, these online directories are quickly becoming obsolete.

Are clients motivated by the badges that you place on your website indicating your inclusion in some group or listing? It depends.

The overwhelming majority of those out there are probably not very influential to most viewers. There may be some exceptions for certain lists or memberships and certain practice types. Do a quick survey of your clients and get their opinion. Check with your referral sources. You will likely find that the lists and directories are the ones doing the great marketing – to lawyers.

Before renewing your subscription to any directory or listing service or publication, evaluate it. How many cases or clients did you get as a result of it? How much did it cost? Is that money better spent on other marketing efforts?


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