Directory participation is the equivalent of dropping a match on a pile of cash.
Why do law firms continue to spend time and money on legal directories when the people who hire external counsel don’t care?
Last October—repeating themselves for the sixth year in a row—a panel of General Counsel at a Toronto Legal Marketing Association event said directories are not used to make decisions about whom to approach or hire, and that some of the best lawyers are not found in directories.
None of this is news. The same finding was reinforced by legal market researchers, Acritas, who in 2007 surveyed 500 GC’s about what sources influence their consideration in hiring external lawyers. Only five percent found directories relevant to this type of decision and only three percent said they have been influenced significantly by directory information.
Let’s be clear: Directories are profit-making vehicles for their publishers. For law firms, directory participation is the equivalent of dropping a match on a pile of cash.
In a 2012 article, Legal Directories in the Age of Google, I opined that since we tend to check each other out online and with the ever-increasing abilities of sophisticated search engines to act as directories of everything, you’re better off plowing resources into elevating your online presence.
Focus on social media vehicles that your current and prospective clients use most, paying special attention to your website where you can showcase client work and testimonials. Apply this tactic consistently along with solid search engine optimization and you’re golden.
The advantage of controlling your own profile and reputation along with the benefit of being “one of one” certainly beats being ranked by anonymous influencers and lumped in with the competition in a glorified popularity contest where you’re “one of many.”
Even though directory season is in full swing, it’s simply common sense to recognize that people who are looking to hire you don’t consult directories, and so the likelihood of landing a client or a referral in this fashion is about the same as the odds are of you being struck by lightening — less than one in a million.
Heather Suttie is an internationally recognized legal market strategy and management consultant to leaders of premier law firms and legal service providers worldwide.
For 25 years, she has accelerated performance within law firms and legal service businesses — Global to Solo | BigLaw to NewLaw — by providing consultative direction on legal business strategy, market strategy, management strategy, and client strategy. The result is a distinctive one-of-one legal market position and sustained competitive advantage culminating in greater market share, revenue and profits.