After last year’s howl at survey overload, some legal marketers got together in 2016 to see if they could establish collective guidelines to make life easier for law firms.
In the Spring two industry groups – the Legal Marketing Association and Law Firm Media Professionals – kicked off a study to evaluate the resources that law firms use to manage legal directories.
At the Legal Marketing Association conference in Texas in April 2016, the preliminary results of the study were released at a session discussing whether directories represent good value for money.
The full report followed shortly after.
The London chapter of Law Firm Media Professionals hosted a legal directories session in September 2016, and later released the results of a survey into how law firms manage their legal directories relationships.
Is This A Scam?
The raft of surveys got too much for one marketing consultant who created a new site – Who Hates Spammy Lawyer Awards? – to warn others as to the scam level of each unsuspecting approach from vendors.
Chambers & Partners
Chambers is making a habit of ending the year with a bang, just as everyone is settling into the holiday groove.
At the back end of 2015, the London-based directory publisher launched a shiny new website.
Talk about making a splash, this time it was a new social network – ChambersConnect.
Earlier in the year, Chambers launched its first ever directory focused on the high net worth market – a move I described at the time as the boldest new product to come out of Chambers since the Chambers Confidential research reports.
As well as lawyers, the High Net Worth directory features recommended tax advisers, agents, estate agents, shipyards, trust companies, and yacht brokers – making this the first time that Chambers has recommended professionals other than lawyers on any significant scale.
High Net Worth editor Simon Christian:
“We launched our new High Net Worth guide in June this year and we’re now working on the second edition. The market reaction has been great, and it’s really pleasing to hear from lawyers, accountants, family officers and other investment management professionals around the world who find it useful and informative.”
As for the regular directories, Chambers Global editor Edward Shum had this to say:
“2016 was another momentous year for our research team, and the Chambers Global guide saw further advances, with growth in the number of practice areas in jurisdictions as diverse as South Africa, Kenya and Israel. Beyond core commercial areas, we are also trialing growth in related fields that readers find increasingly important, such as human rights, and corporate investigations. Some of these sections have started small, but are expected to grow in future editions.
Meanwhile, the highly successful law firm networks section continues to grow in terms of research. We pride ourselves on being one of the only organizations to conduct meaningful research on law firm networks. On all these fronts 2017 is an exciting year, and we look forward to further developing in all these areas.”
Chambers Canada continues to establish a sold foothold in the market.
According to editor, Joanna Lane:
“The highlight of this year, for me, was certainly the second annual Chambers Canada book launch and awards, held at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto in September. At this year’s ceremony, we recognized nine law firms [LINK9] for their achievements in specific practice areas. As well, we presented two individual awards celebrating the careers or two exceptional individuals, Mr. Lawson Hunter of Stikeman Elliott, who received our Lifetime Achievement Award, and Simon Fish of BMO Financial Group for his Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession. It was an honor to have them join us on the night.”
No-one got overly excited when Chambers launched its “legal practice guide” series in 2013 – a decidedly old-school take on the modern content marketing trend – but Chambers sources tell me the line is doing well.
The latest edition – Chambers Legal Brexit – was apparently well received and received a lot of orders.
On the personnel side, Marlene Hermann took over as Chambers Europe editor in late 2015, and Sarah Kogan as Asia Pacific editor in Spring 2016, while former managing director Mark Wyatt left the company.
Legal 500 kept up the pace through 2016, continuing its trend in recent years of broadening its offering beyond the core directories into a suite of related products and services for in-house lawyers.
Mike Nash, chief editor of the Legal 500 series, sounded bullish when we connected recently:
“The Legal 500 continues to build its engagement with core readership (corporate counsel) and certain new products certainly caused a splash in 2016! During 2017, we expect to be able to continue to adapt our coverage to changes in the market and to evolve that coverage in ways that corporate counsel and law firms will appreciate.”
Like Chambers, Legal 500 kept some of its big news for the end of the year – a new database called Who Represents Who that tells you which law firms represent which companies in different areas of practice.
The new site has powerful search capability to enable users to filter by client name, location, and practice.
You type in the name of a company, and the system shows the law firms that advise that company across a range of practices.
As for the regular directories, Legal 500 said it wanted to increase its coverage of the stars of the future, and asked law firms to highlight their next generation lawyers in submissions.
Seth Jennings stamped his personality on the US guide by introducing several new sections such as media and entertainment and transport.
Seth told me:
“My moment of 2016, in a professional context, was certainly the launch of the current edition of The Legal 500 US. There’s a definite sense of achievement you feel when the book you’ve been working on for the best part of six months finally launches, especially so when it’s your first!”
The key bit of news at Euromoney-owned IFLR1000 was the launch of a new database of deal records from over 120 countries.
Complementing the regular directory, IFLR described the new products as a “curated selection” of the most important corporate and financial transactions in each jurisdiction.
IFLR1000 editor Sam Duke said they have around 2,000 deals on the system, with that number set to rise over the coming year as the product is launched in stages around the world.
Best Lawyers did a full online redesign this year, reappearing with a smart new look in December 2016.
Best Lawyers CEO Steven Naifeh:
“In the increasingly crowded field of legal directories, Best Lawyers stands alone: our more than 70 international country lists are purely peer-reviewed. The integrity and elegant simplicity of this premise means that lawyers and the public alike trust us now more than ever to provide unfiltered access to exceptional counsel. Similarly, our lists are even easier to access now that we have worked with one of the leading website developers in the world, Blue Fountain Media, to completely revamp and redesign our website for ease of functionality via an eye-catching, fully responsive design.”
Who’s Who Legal
Wilson joined WWL from Chambers & Partners, where he had worked since 2012.
ALM began the year by making an important corporate acquisition: the US legal media giant bought London-based Legal Week from Incisive Media.
As part of the deal, ALM snapped up Legal Week’s events business, which includes the British Legal Awards.
The Legal Week deal followed the 2015 acquisition of a respected legal publication, InsideCounsel.
ALM also created a new portal to centralize the myriad lists, rankings, and surveys produced by the company’s various units.
Designed to help law firm marketers keep on top of the all the surveys, the new site includes all the ALM title awards and submissions deadlines.
Super Lawyers was one of a number of legal directories and media companies to upgrade its design in 2016 – its first major overhaul since Thomson Reuters acquired the business in 2010.
Both the Super Lawyers magazine and website offer expanded editorial content and enhanced features.
Fresh from its 10-year anniversary edition in 2015, Lawdragon put out its eleventh annual Lawdragon 500 list of the leading US lawyers.
A few months later, Lawdragon named its 100 Leading Legal Consultants and Strategists for 2016.
Lawdragon’s Carlton Dyce summed up the year on behalf of the company:
“Lawdragon published its 11th annual Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America, featuring one-third women, and we reintroduced our industry-leading guide to 100 Leading Consultants and Strategists.
As part of our boundless research on great lawyers, Lawdragon went back to basics, traveling over 130,000 miles to visit every law school in the US. The “road trip” for Campus Lawdragon will provide reviews of all 254 US law schools.
And we continued to provide high-quality digital content for leading law firms, while providing important public interest journalism, such as reporting on the 9/11 tribunals at Guantanamo Bay.”
Avvo has morphed over the last decade from a lawyer directory to a quasi-law firm, and early 2016 rolled out a major new offering called Avvo Legal Services that provides fixed-fee, legal services through a network of attorneys.
For $39 for a 15-minute advice session or $149 for a document review, consumers can now find a lawyer, research a lawyer, and hire a lawyer directly through Avvo’s expanding platform.
Avvo founder Mark Britton told me:
“At Avvo, all we think about is making legal easier. In 2016, we moved this a huge step forward with Avvo Legal Services, offering a range of fixed-fee services for common legal issues. Consumers love it because they know exactly what they are getting for what price. Lawyers love it because they get business that may have otherwise gone the DIY route. Whether it is a $39 advice session or a $995 uncontested divorce, we love to see lawyers and consumers coming together.”
Law360 remains one of the dominant players in the US law firm survey market.
Throughout 206 the New York-based business released a steady stream of lawyer and law firm rankings.
However, in contrast to its newswire roots, the company launched a weekly digital magazine called “In-Depth” to showcase its long-form features.
For those of a certain vintage, Martindale lives to fight another day.
Now in its new Martindale-Nolo guise, the company formed a new legal marketing network this year based around three services: lead generation, website design and online profiles, and Ngage Live Chat.
UK-based legal media group The Lawyer launched a new product that tracks the number of times law firms appear in court.
The Lawyer Litigation Tracker is set to be rolled out in early 2017.
Editor Catrin Griffiths:
“While corporate lawyers have long been able to benchmark their activity through the M&A league tables, such research has not been available for the litigation market – until now. The Lawyer Litigation Tracker will reshape the way the market perceives contentious work.”
Directories come in all shapes and sizes.
I wondered at that the time whether the law firm, which refers work to 1,000 firms, and represents the largest law firm referral network in the world, had inadvertently created a major legal directory?
As you might imagine, the established legal networks didn’t much like Dentons’ approach, and a war of words erupted in the legal news pages.
Could this be a new trend: companies creating their own internal directories to help in-house legal teams decide which law firm to use?
That’s what General Electric has done – via a new site called GE Select Connect for its 800 in-house lawyers to search for preferred outside counsel.
GE lawyers can use the platform to grade outside counsel with three options: a smiley face, neutral face or sad face, depending on how satisfied they were with the service.
One of the more interesting and innovative new products on the scene is the Meisterline Index, a lawyer-rating service that measures how expert lawyers are in their chosen areas of legal specialization.
Part of Meisterline Analytics, a research lab using cognitive science to understand how legal experts think, the index works by using proprietary algorithms to measure the expertise of lawyers both individually and relative to their peers.
Company founder Dr. Peter Macmillan says that “we’re not about replacing existing lawyer rating services and directories, but rather complementing what they do by providing data and insights not previously available in the market.”
Hot on the heels of China, which has seen more than two dozen new legal websites emerge since 2012, India is set to be one of the big new markets for legal directories.
Lexihut is the latest of the Australian legal directories.
The Queensland-based site joins a competitive regional market that includes Lawchoice, LegalVision, LawPath, Brief It, Aussie Legal, and LawCorner.
The UK legal startup, which aims to help users find a business lawyer, has become increasingly well known in the market – buoyed by an investment round in late 2015 and the strength of London’s famed “fintech” sector.
A new feature on Lexoo is lawyer reviews and the site currently has over 300 live reviews.
The site also created a search bar that leads visitors to the most relevant page and shows the average amounts they should expect to pay for legal services.
Legal comparison websites have attracted a lot of attention, although none has yet established itself as a clear market leader.
One of the frontrunners, though, is Law Superstore, which launched in Spring 2016, hoping to become the sought after “TripAdvisor of legal”.
The company is seeking funding through crowdfunding platform Seedrs in early 2017.
Life Sciences Law Firm Index
There’s always room for one more survey.
Breaking Media, the publishers of Above the Law, and a litigation funding firm, Lake Whillans, teamed up in early 2016 to develop a new list of top US life sciences firms.
Lawyers On Demand
Alternative legal service provider, Lawyers On Demand, launched Spoke, its own online marketplace for legal services.
Every year new products come into the market, and this year they included Legal Monitor – a “legal intelligence” product that enables you to search for lawyers using a filtering system.
Another newbie was Legal Refer.
The rise of niche directories continues, a good example being the first guide to law firms specializing in cannabis law.