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Legal Directories: A Waste of Money? Apparently Not

Posted in Marketing Tips, Prospecting for Clients

There is an interesting discussion going on over on LinkedIn’s CMO Forum initiated by Heather Suttie about investing in yourself instead of legal directories.  One paragraph that caught my eye:

“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.”

I was prepared to concur after reading Suttie’s post, since I believe most people, especially corporate counsel mostly hire outside law firms through referrals and online sources.

Two years ago, I wrote a post on this blog about not wasting your firm’s money on yellow pages. Sure some people still have no computer and may use them to find a lawyer; but I hold that as a general rule they’re expensive and a waste.  I still believe so.

Were I to argue that legal directories are a waste of money too, I’d be wrong apparently.  After Bob Weiss disagreed with Suttie’s premise, I did some research myself.  A simple search on Google uncovered a summary of a 2011 survey by The BTI Consulting Group, commissioned by LexisNexis, about the Role of Legal Directories and Online Lawyer Profiles.  Since a BTI survey is a more credible indicator than a panel of in-house counsel at an LMA conference or two, I quickly scolded myself on my initial, instinctive reaction (Well, I didn’t scold toooooo much).

So, what did the survey show?  That Martindale-Hubbell and LinkedIn have an important role to play in the hiring of outside counsel, specifically:

  • “77.1% of in-house counsel and staff use a legal directory or online lawyer profile to validate the credentials of a referral
  • “Absence from a legal directory hinders up to 51.4% of clients from hiring a law firm…
  • “LinkedIn and Martindale-Hubbell are the most frequently used resources overall, for any reason…”

I still believe that yellow pages are a waste of money.  Legal Directories?…not so much.