Last week I came across a good piece by Heather Morse, a well-known law firm marketing director and author of the legal marketing blog, The Legal Watercooler.
The article provides a modern twist on the age-old question of whether legal directories matter.
In the old days, Martindale Hubbell typically was the subject, although, in a sign of the times, these days it is Avvo and others.
Heather makes the good point that even if you work in a corporate law firm, paying attention to the likes of Avvo is worthwhile.
There’s a view in BigLaw that consumer-facing directories don’t concern them.
After all, we do corporate law, not crummy DUI cases.
I meet US law firm marketing directors all the time who haven’t heard of Avvo, or if they have, they don’t understand it, or they don’t think it matters (often the same risk-averse marketers that advised their attorneys to steer clear of LinkedIn in its early days).
I think this is a mistake for a number of reasons.
Directories like Avvo are universal in that they sweep up every practicing lawyer.
That means that if you’re a licensed US attorney, you’re probably on there.
There’s an argument that if a website is going to list you, then take a few minutes to check that the information is accurate and up-to-date.
Yes, yes. I know the publishers themselves should ensure that the information is accurate in the first place.
These sites aren’t perfect.
But what’s a better use of lawyers’ time: spending a few minutes checking and updating your profile, or having an extended discussion with your marketing team about whether we should or shouldn’t get involved.
Or as some lawyers do, pine for the pre-internet days when all your work came from the golf club and bar association dinners, and get angry about how these sites are the ethical equivalent of the Great Satan.
Sites like Avvo do well in search engines.
After all, if someone were to search for your name, wouldn’t you want them to see correct information?
Wouldn’t you want your Avvo profile to have the correct law firm name, practice area breakdown, and telephone number?
Secondly, it’s inevitable that some of the features and characteristics of consumer sites like Avvo (that themselves have borrowed from online retailers and price comparison sites in other industries) will filter upwards into the top echelons of the legal market.
Sure, if you’re at one of the top 20 or so elite global law firms, you may not have to worry.
But since the crisis, we’ve seen many mid-market commercial firms face the squeeze.
If you’re in one of these firms, sites like Avvo may become relevant quicker than you think.
My advice: if you’re an in-house law firm marketer, take some time to learn about how these sites work so you can advise your attorneys in a more informed way – beyond a dismissive “ignore it and it will go away” response.
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