Seventy percent of clients find or research lawyers online before making a hiring decision. For this reason, law firms cannot ignore reputable lawyer directories, even if they never receive a single directory referral.
Searching for an attorney using a lawyer directory allows potential clients to narrow their selections using factors like these:
- Practice areas;
- Geographical locations; and
- Client and peer ratings and testimonials.
This flexibility provides value to consumers, making the popularity of attorney directories understandable. But law firms cannot spend significant time and money researching law firm directories, and some directories can actually harm a firm’s web presence. TOPDOG’s Law Firm Directory 101 is below.
The Importance of Your Law Firm’s Digital Presence
Traditionally, clients found attorneys through word-of-mouth and print directories, such as Martindale-Hubbell, or even the telephone book yellow pages. With people turning increasingly to the Internet to research service providers, the landscape is drastically different:
- Only 29% to 35% of attorneys are found through referrals;
- A comparable percentage, 22% to 38%, are discovered online; and
- When consultation and research are added, the percentage of people using the Internet to learn about potential legal service providers skyrockets to a whopping 70%.
In other words, on average, an attorney can expect that about one-third of new clients will discover him or her online. And even when potential clients learn about an attorney through other sources, a significant percentage will conduct online research before hiring a law firm or attorney.
Law firms should make the most of their online presence using many strategies, from optimizing their websites and claiming Google Business Profile listings to embracing high-quality lawyer directories.
Which Lawyer Directories Are Best Used for Referrals?
One of the main considerations when evaluating attorney listings for referral business is popularity. Here are four of the top attorney directories as ranked by Alexa, an Amazon company:
However, potential referral business is only one consideration.
Most attorney directories provide hyperlinks back to the law firm’s website. And if a directory is “spammy” and provides what is known as a “follow” link, it can actually damage your firm’s website’s authority and ability to rank. For that reason, it’s also important to consider the reliability and safety of a lawyer directory before you opt in.
In the case of attorney directories, more is definitely not better.
The Magical Powers of Law Firm Directories (Even if You Don’t Want Referrals)
Many law firms, particularly insurance and civil defense firms, avoid law firm directories because their client development has traditionally taken place offline.
However, high-quality lawyer directories offer benefits other than referrals. For example, they confirm important information to Google and other search engines (such as your location and practice areas) and help improve your law firm’s rankability.
Still, the first and most important tip for using legal directories is to be selective. Some are regulated by state and local bar associations while others are not. Official and affinity bar membership listings are easy; grab those where available.
From there, ensure your law firm is in the basic attorney directories. We’ve done some homework to help you (or your staff) get started.
The following have proven over time to be safe and reliable. Your law firm should have a presence in all of these:
As an attorney, you already know that Martindale-Hubbell sets the traditional gold standard of reliability, and this is also true online. Martindale.com, owned by Internet Brands, offers free basic listings and should be at the top of every law firm’s directory list.
Next, consider Avvo. Many attorneys shy away from Avvo as one of the newer kids on the block only to realize later that they already have a listing. For this reason alone, it’s critical that you claim your Avvo listing and provide input into your profile and score, which ranges on a scale of 1 to 10.
An attorney’s Avvo score is based in part on profile depth, so it’s worth taking the time to complete it even if you don’t use the website as a client referral service. Peer endorsements, as well as Avvo-collected public information, round out the factors that go into an attorney’s Avvo score.
PRO TIP: Although Avvo will not change a score, it will hide the numerical value upon request.
A third reliable directory for licensed attorneys is Justia.com. Justia listings are also distributed on Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute (LII), and this can help expand your online reach.
Lawyers.com, which is part of Martindale.com’s network, also provides a safe, reliable directory potential clients can use to find you online. This website boasts “exposure to 15 million consumers monthly.”
Still Unsure? Just Ask!
Hundreds of attorney directories are out there. Most are junk or money grabs. But now you know that legal directories carry benefits other than potential client referrals, including helping your law firm rank better and providing consistent online information (which search engines love).
At TOPDOG, we’re licensed attorneys who specialize in helping lawyers and law firms “get found online.” We understand the pressures and constraints facing practicing attorneys and know how overwhelming digital marketing can be. That’s why we build custom plans to enhance our clients’ online visibility and execute those plans to allow our clients to focus on practicing law.
Whether you have questions about lawyer directories or any other aspect of online legal marketing, contact us online or by calling (844) HEY-TDOG (439-8364) or (480) 744-7331. We work with law firms and individual attorneys every day, and we speak your language.