Plus other legal marketing and media stuff….
A lot of people are fed up with rankings, awards, and lawyer lists.
Some sample posts from various disgruntled commentators this year:
- Calling Bullsh!t On The Lawyer Ego Industry
- Glut of Best Lawyer Lists Has Marketers Asking Whether They’re Worth the Trouble
- Law Firms See Big Mess in Rankings, Awards
- Abundance of Surveys, Rankings Frustrate Many Law Firms
- Let’s Get Real About Surveys, Rankings and Awards
The latter, from Lee Feldman, contains my favorite quote of the year:
“Law firm surveys, rankings and awards are the crystal meth of the legal industry.”
On the same theme, legal marketing consultant Ross Fishman had a good old rant about lawyer lists.
Those at the coal face, in-house legal marketers, continue to battle “survey overload”.
So much so that two industry groups – the Legal Marketing Association’s “Think Tank Committee” and Law Firm Media Professionals’ “Committee on Surveys and Recognitions” – have developed “a quantitative approach for legal marketers to better understand, manage, measure and evaluate the hard and soft resources used to submit for legal directories and rankings.”
The research findings are due to be released at the next LMA conference in April 2016.
But not every marketer is anti-ranking.
Heather Morse, at the Legal Watercooler, said “I’m changing my tune on surveys”.
Turning to the publications themselves, Legal 500, and parent company Legalease, has been going great guns in the last couple of years, launching new products, and hiring staff like no tomorrow.
This year the Fleet Street-based legal publisher released its first ever Client Intelligence Report, said to be the world’s largest in-house legal market survey.
New faces at Legal 500 include former Chambers man, Seth Singh Jennings, who joined as US editor.
Alexander Boyes rejoined the company (he was former Asia Pacific editor) to take over from John Read as UK editor.
Chambers & Partners
Over at Chambers, the company made legal marketers the world over happy when it increased the number of client references you can provide in a submission up to a new limit of 20.
Earlier in the year, Chambers relaunched its line of bespoke client research reports for law firms as Chambers Unpublished (it was “Chambers Confidential” previously).
In other Chambers news, Michael Perkin took over as UK editor, and the directory publisher ended the year on a high with a slick new website.
Visitors to Chambers’ offices next year will be able to watch Polish avant garde cinema at a new arthouse movie theater currently being built in the basement of the building.
I first heard about the “Chambers Cinema” a few years ago, but dismissed it as one of these crazy ideas you sometimes hear coming out of Chambers.
However, a year or so ago, when meeting someone at the Chambers office, I saw construction work going on under the building.
So it’s definitely happening, and the cinema even has its own button on the Chambers website.
A fire in central London took down a number of legal publishing sites, most notably, Chambers, whose staff were forced to decamp to a temporary office for a week until power was restored.
The trend of law firms hiring in-house directories managers continues.
Two of the most notable examples in 2015 were the moves of Lauren Hughes, formerly the Legal 500 USA editor, to Ropes & Gray, and Jonathan Rubin, previously the Chambers UK editor, to Gibson Dunn.
The IFLR1000 underwent a subtle rebrand.
The latest edition of the guide, launched in October 2015, is now known officially as the “IFLR1000: Financial & Corporate”, while at the same time the publishers have added an energy and infrastructure guide to the same stable – IFLR1000: E&I (energy/infrastructure) – with a TMT one in the works as well.
From the same Euromoney stable as IFLR, the litigation directory, Benchmark, continues to expand – this year adding a Mexico edition.
Legal media company-cum-directory, Lawdragon, celebrated its 10-year anniversary with the release of a special 2015 commemoration issue of Lawdragon magazine.
The issue featured the latest edition of the “Lawdragon 500” leading lawyers guide, a “Hall of Fame” guide for past honorees and a special “Legends” section for those who have been listed in the Lawdragon 500 for every one of its 10 years.
Avvo’s rise continues.
Pretty much the largest of the US-based lawyer directories, the company secured a whopping $71 million of further investment financing in the Summer of 2015, with Bloomberg valuing the business at $650 million.
Avvo also moved into new space in Seattle in December 2015 after hiring a ton of new people in the last couple of years.
Super Lawyers’ approach of partnering with respected publications stepped up a gear with the news that they had linked up with the prestigious New Yorker magazine, and tech heavyweight Wired.
A special Super Lawyers section in the October 2015 issue of The New Yorker named “50 Law Firms Professionals Should Know About”, while a similar section in the Wired November 2015 spotlighted “50 Intellectual Property Firms to Keep Top of the Mind.”
I can barely keep up with the number of new surveys that emanate from the ubiquitous Law360.
The rapidly growing legal media company moved to a larger space to accommodate its burgeoning team.
Despite everyone penning their Martindale obituaries, there’s life in the old dog yet.
For those of the old school, the Lawyerist recently posted a handy guide on how to secure a Martindale Hubbell rating.
Facebook launched its own directory – Facebook Professional Services.
Tipped by some to be a strong rival to Yelp, and of course, Google, the new service allows Facebook users to search for the highest rated businesses in a particular location.
As far as lawyers are concerned, LawLytics asks: Should Lawyers Care About Facebook’s Directory?
For those more concerned with search engine optimization, Conrad Saam at Mockingbird Marketing listed a dozen legal directories he thinks are best for web profile – Avvo, Superlawyers, Justia, Lawdeeda, Lawyers.com, Lawyer Central, Martindale Hubbell, Nolo, HG.org, Lawyer Legion, Target Law and Legal Web Finder.
One of the new kids on the block that Saam highlights is Thumbtack, a web startup that connects customers with professional and service providers.
Thumbtack is backed by Google’s venture arm.
Law firm SEO consultant Chris Dreyer listed the top 100 law firm directories on his Attorney Rankings site.
Another web consultant listed the top 15 legal directories for 2015 ranked by web traffic.
All the usual suspects are in there, with Avvo coming out top.
Legal Comparison Sites
The emergence of legal comparison websites was a major theme of 2015.
Barely a month (a week?) went by without news of another new find-a-lawyer service keen to tap into the “uberization of legal” phenomenon.
In the UK, Law Superstore made a splash.
Due to launch in Spring 2016, the site is backed by legal consultant, Chrissie Lightfoot, who hopes it will become the much-vaunted “TripAdvisor of legal”.
Another promising UK legal startup is Lexoo.
The London-based business, which centers on helping users find a business lawyer (rather than consumer), secured a $1.3 million funding round in November 2015.
UK-based lawyer directory, Access Solicitor, formed a partnership with Best Lawyers.
Defero Law, run by former Chambers & Partners man Richard Pettet, has a slicker look these days.
The focus of the site is now a “find a lawyer” directory, and aggregating legal news from around the web.
Legal directories have been all the rage in Australia, with a slew of startups and emerging sites looking to scale.
Among the pack you have LegalVision, which raised a $1.2 million in new finance in early 2015, LawPath, Brief It, Aussie Legal, LawCorner, and, most recently, LawChoice.
A bunch of new Chinese lawyer directories have sprung up.
The Asian Lawyer, which says that more than two dozen websites or mobile apps aimed at providing legal services to the Chinese market have emerged since 2012, has a good roundup of this new scene.
Some of these directory/listing-style sites, like Law Cloud and Fadoushi, which styles itself as a “legal Yelp for China”, will be new to western readers – but expect to hear more from them in the future.
IAM, the publisher of intellectual property magazines and directories, and part of the same team behind World Trademark Review, launched IAM Market – an innovative new online portal of IP assets.
In their own words, “IAM market allows IP owners to profile their IP sales and licensing operations, as well as their technology transfer programs, and enables them to let the global IP community know about specific assets they are seeking to license-out, sell or transfer.”
Some traditional legal media stalwarts have morphed into survey monsters, spitting out a regular flow of (generally high quality) reports.
The Lawyer, sporting a fresh new look, for example, has “developed into one of the biggest data providers in the legal sector”, according to editor Catrin Griffiths.
To name but a few of their survey offerings: the UK 200, the European 100, AsiaPac150, and the China Elite.
Of particular interest to legal marketers is the new “UK 200: Financial Management” survey, which details the number of marketers at law firms, and ratios of lawyers to marketers – always a source of discussion in the community.
Talking of website refreshes, Legal Week has tarted up its online offering as well.
In October, the London-based site moved to a slick new responsive platform – although it’s a shame so much of the content is behind a paywall.
The launch of Bloomberg’s new “Big Law” news site made a splash in the legal media world, and was much welcomed by those in the industry.
The Times (of London) launched an impressive new daily news alert.
Even in a sea of legal news content, it’s quickly become essential reading.
Content marketing was a buzzword of the year.
Two players in the field linked arms – Twitter guru Adrian Dayton, the guy behind the ClearView Social business, and Manzama, a popular law firm content analysis tool.
“Content Sharing Nirvana” (their words) was the strapline to the announcement.
From a law firm PR standpoint, Michael Evans of Baker & McKenzie put out a good piece on how law firm comms folks should approach content marketing.
A bunfight emerged over the publication of the American Lawyer’s annual financial survey.
As well as the usual commentators weighing in with their take on the value or otherwise of the reporting data, a large law firm, Dentons, decided to take on AmLaw head on itself.
A longstanding Chambers & Partners editor, Ignacio Abella, left the company to set up a new Latin America division at the legal publisher, Iberian Lawyer.
Former Bloomberg video guy Lee Pacchia has enjoyed some success with his Charlie Rose-style video concept on his own Mimesis platform.
As well as his Business of Law series, Lee has branched out into criminal defense with Fault Lines (featuring the irrepressible Scott Greenfield, among others) and intellectual property (IP Flow)
Not sure if this was a legal communications “first”, but it’s unusual for the managing partner of a large law firm to issue a press statement by Youtube video.
In this case, the firm was New York-based Goldberg Segalla, and the spokesperson was Rick Cohen.
He threw former London-based partner Clive O’Connell under the bus after Mr. O’Connell was filmed saying some mean things about Liverpool football fans.
On the PR software front, the founder of the Gorkana media database, Alexander Northcott, launched a new service called Roxhill Media in early 2015 for legal, financial and corporate public relations professionals.
Roxhill’s market entry follows some major consolidation after other PR software companies Vocus and Cision (and Gorkana itself) were all merged into the same platform.
And a ton of other stuff I’ve missed….
Hope you had a good year, and here’s to 2016.
Kim McFayden says
Thanks for the mentioning LawCorner in the Aussie contingent Lloyd. Have a great Christmas and New Year 🙂
Richard Pinto says
No love for FT Innovative? Cheers for this list Lloyd, comprehensive and helpful.
Lloyd Pearson says
Thanks, Richard – lots of love for FT. Just nothing that sprang to mind as a standout in 2015. There’s a ton of further stuff I could have added – the problem is where to draw the line!
Ross Cogan says
Very thorough and interesting Lloyd – I hope everything is going well with you.
Lloyd Pearson says
Thanks Ross, yes all good here.