What are legal directories?

Simply, legal directories are listings of law firms. The most prominent directories rank law firms and their lawyers with the intention of guiding consumers to the best lawyers for their legal problem. Some of them target private clients, other are more focused on corporates and corporate counsel.

Most directories don’t charge you to make a submission and directory listings and rankings are usually made independently of a law firm’s subscription. However, subscription plans do exist and usually give firms the opportunity to post a firm profile and biographies for individual lawyers, as well as tools that make the submission process easier or provide market data that might be useful for the firm.

What are the main global directories?

There are several regionally specific directories, with Avvo, FindLaw and Martindale being popular in the US, however the biggest global players are the Legal 500, Chambers & Partners, IFLR1000, and Who’s Who Legal. In common, the global directories have an audience of corporate counsel and high-net-worth individuals. 

The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners have the biggest global footprint, with an army of researchers covering all global jurisdictions and a significant number of their practice areas. IFLR1000 covers fewer practice areas but also has a global footprint.

Who’s Who Legal has recently evolved following an acquisition by Lexology. The directory covers all global jurisdictions, but the research team is much smaller. In its new guise, the directory is more “pay-to-play.” The focus is on individual lawyers more than law firms however, they’ve introduced a new AI search tool whereby lawyers can be matched to specific client queries – lawyers from firms that have paid for a profile will be suggested first, with the ability to submit keyword optimized profiles for their practitioners.

Why should your firm engage with them?

The legal directories confer numerous benefits on firms that engage, so it’s worth having these in mind when considering the resources that go into compiling a submission and they are all related to an extent. The top three are credibility and trust, targeted exposure, and SEO.

Credibility is a sacred commodity in law, whether you cater to private clients or multinational corporations. In a crowded market, you need to demonstrate why you are best placed to take on a client’s matter. There are many ways this can be done – referrals are usually how clients meet their lawyers and signify a certain level of credibility. A directory listing or ranking is another way.

Your submission will be vetted by external researchers and benchmarked against other firms in your jurisdiction and area of practice. Therefore, recognition in the directories demonstrates that your firm is working at a certain level in comparison to your peers and competitors.

Reaching your target audience, and an international one at that, is like gold dust. Although clients will most likely work with firms that have been referred or that they have an established relationship with, they will also refer to the directories, particularly in jurisdictions or practice areas they haven’t been exposed to yet. Therefore, if your firm is listed in one of the directories, you will at least appear in your target client’s primary research.

Legal 500, Chambers, IFLR1000, and Who’s Who Legal are all targeted to corporate counsel, but their readership also includes international firms that might refer their clients to your firm for specific matters where they lack capacity.

Finally, the directories are seen by search engines such as Google as having high authority. This means that a listing in the directories will contribute to your visibility for relevant search engine queries.

One of the criteria for search engine visibility is Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (or E-E-A-T). The process that goes into directory research helps your firm meet this criterion – hitting on all of the above aspects. If a directory ranking is combined with a paid profile on the directories, that allows firms to add firm and lawyer profiles that link to your website, the directories are also a good source of backlinks; external links that signal to search engines that your website is a legitimate source of information.

In addition to all of the above, once you’ve secured your ranking, you now have content for all your website, lawyer bios, and pitches that contribute to your “social proof”.Ready to elevate your firm’s profile? Contact The Marketing Legal today for a free consultation and discover how we can help you rank in the legal directories.