Attorney Directories. What are they? An attorney directory is a list of law firms and lawyers, compiled in one place. The public has access to this list.
Attorneys are able to create listings for themselves and their firms there, sometimes for free, or sometimes in exchange for a small fee or subscription. State bar associations operate the most popular attorney directories.
Why should I use an attorney directory?
Google wouldn’t be where it is today if people enjoyed doing hours and hours of research to find what they needed from the internet. People like to have their information on demand; billions of people use Google and other search engines everyday.
But even before there was Google (a world without Google! Imagine it!) there were web directories. They are the natural descendants of those now obsolete remnants of a simpler time, the white and yellow pages.
Think of an attorney directory as Google’s bookish older cousin: a place where people go to find information about lawyers, and only lawyers. If you think marketing your law firm is hard, finding the right lawyer to represent you is even harder, and for the same reasons. There are so many talented lawyers out there that finding the right one for you can be like finding a needle in a haystack.
People will naturally gravitate towards online directories to find goods and services because it does the hard work for them, and attorney directories are no different.
Being present on as many of these directories as you can manage only makes good business sense. Here is a quick list of ways online attorney directories can help your law firm grow and prosper:
Increase Your Discoverability
If someone is searching for lawyers online, attorney directories are going to be some of the first places they look. If you aren’t listed there, who knows how many potential clients could be passing you by? They need to know your name to hire you, and a listing in an attorney directory provides them with just that.
Build Quality Traffic
Search index any and all sites on the internet without any checks or balances for quality. Good web directories hire editors to check and maintain high quality and relevance. This helps establish a loyal user-base to the directory, which helps establish a loyal clientele for your business.
Improve Your SEO
The goal of SEO is to put your law firm’s website as high in Google’s rankings for as many search results as possible. The fastest way to drum up clients for your law firm is to dominate the front page of Google. But, as competition for that space heats up, it’s not as easy as it used to be.
But Google loves quality attorney directories, and by allying yourself with a few of them, you are essentially giving yourself some extra bites at the apple. It is much easier for an online attorney directory to rank highly on Google, and to take your law firm up with it.
Aside from your ranking, back-links for your website (links on other websites that take people back to your website) increase your standing with Google. This holds especially true if those websites containing your back-links are trusted websites, like attorney directories.
Every bit of advertising is good, especially when it’s cheap. Some attorney directories are free, while others will charge a comparatively small fee. Some will have free options, but give extra features or exposure to firms that pay a fee. These directories put your name and company information in front of tens of thousands of people for a very small chunk of your budget.
When someone searches an attorney directory, mostly they search for a specific geographic location and a specific area of practice. Within an attorney directory, every single person who sees your listing is going to be searching for the exact services you provide, with hardly any effort from you.
Say you are a divorce lawyer in Shreveport, Louisiana. The only people who are going to see your listing are people searching for divorce lawyers in Shreveport. Anyone searching for personal injury attorneys in Seattle will not see your listing.
Normally, this level of targeted advertising requires expensive ad campaigns and the addition of multiple relevant keywords, but attorney directories handle it all for you.
Simple to Update
With yellow pages, businesses must wait until a new edition is published to update or modify their listing. With attorney directories, listings can be updated at any time with just a few clicks.
This is a huge advantage: imagine, for instance, if you changed your law firm’s phone number, or even moved to a new office. If your business were listed in a traditional print directory, you may have to wait a month or even a year to correct the listing, depending on the directory in question. With an online directory, your address or phone number can be changed almost instantaneously.
Better Sales Closing Ratio
When a potential client perusing an attorney directory selects your business from among hundreds, maybe even thousands of others, they have already read a description of you and your law firm and compared it to the others in your practice area and geographic reason. They have already partially crossed the threshold of decision-making, and are more likely to actually become a paying client.
What it boils down to is that the more opportunities you give yourself, the more paying clients are going to come your way.
How do attorney directories work?
Every attorney directory works differently. For the most part, directories sort attorneys into categories. These categories could include:
- Geographic location
- Area of practice
- Hourly rates
Almost all law firm directories allow potential clients to search with a combination of these factors, meaning that someone could search “family law Miami Florida” in an attorney directory, and the directory would roll out the names of all the family law attorneys in the Miami area.
There are also attorney directories specifically dedicated to helping members of the public find pro bono legal aid. Others will only help someone find the most affordable or cheapest attorney, while still more will help the public find the top attorney in a particular practice area for their particular geographic location.
The way that attorneys are ranked and organized depends entirely on the directory being used. This is why it is so important to fill in all the information you can when claiming your listing so that your law firm can be listed in every category that applies.
What should my listing in an attorney directory include?
Your listing is what potential clients browsing an attorney directory are going to judge you by. For this reason, there are a few things you should always make sure your listing includes:
Consistent Contact Information
This includes your law firm’s name, address, and phone number, otherwise known as NAP. This is especially necessary if your law firm is listed on multiple directories.
Inconsistent NAP across platforms can undermine potential client’s trust in your firm: imagine looking up a restaurant online and finding multiple addresses listed. You would probably give up on that restaurant. The same applies to any business, even law firms.
A Link to Your Website
We already talked about the power of SEO, and especially back-links from trusted websites. For this reason, adding a link back to your firm’s website in your directory listing will only benefit your rank on Google.
Tip: You can add a tracking link to the end of your website’s URL. That way, you can see for yourself exactly how many people are looking at your website as a direct result of your listing in an attorney directory.
A Company Description
Make sure you have a detailed description of your law firm. Be sure it reflects your mission, culture, and values as a business. Injecting some personality into your listing is advisable, especially if you’re hoping to win over younger potential clients, but stay away from excessive use of contemporary slang or jargon. Be approachable, but still professional.
Including photos and videos on your website can give potential clients a visual taste of your law firm, and make your listing more visually appealing.
Which attorney directory should I use?
The short answer to that question is: as many as possible. However, it will be beneficial for you to be aware of some of the more popular directories, how they work, and what they’ll cost you, if anything.
Paid Listings vs. Free Listings
The majority of web directories offer both free and paid listings, which raises the question: what’s the difference? Both of them are listings on the same website. There are pros and cons related to both paid and free listings.
For instance, free listings are, well…free. That’s really the only major positive with regard to free listings, though to be fair it’s a pretty big positive.
However, these free listings are often what is referred to as “skeletal” or “basic” listings. In contrast to the one admittedly stellar pro of not costing you a thing, there are quite a few negatives associated with free listings. For example, the free sides of attorney directories are often crowded, with very little to differentiate one listing from the other. Also, even though your listing is free, the owners of these free directories have to make their money somehow. Generally, they do this by selling ad space on their site. The paid advertisements will distract potential clients from your listing.
When it comes to paid listings in an attorney directory, though there are more pros, there are still a few cons. Not all attorney directories are created equal. Some aren’t worth your time, while others just aren’t that effective. It’s important to do research, and ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck if you plan to submit a listing to a paid attorney directory. If you’re paying for a listing, be sure the site isn’t also selling ad space along with their premium listings, as the ads will still distract potential clients from your listing.
When you pay for a listing in an attorney directory, oftentimes this opens up new categories on your listing. It will probably allow you to post pictures and add links or a blog feed, all huge benefits to SEO. On top of that, oftentimes consumers respect these paid directories more. They have teams of editors or peer-review capabilities that help elevate content quality. In turn, Google and other search engines consider them more respectable sources.
Obviously, there are a lot of different variables to consider when choosing to which attorney directory you want to submit a listing. Listed below are some of the more popular attorney directories.
Basic Free Listings with Optional Paid Listings
These attorney directories will allow you to list your law firm on their website but also have paid options that will enhance their listing in some way or another.
- Lawyer Legion. With Lawyer Legion, a basic listing is free. Attorneys can pay a fee and “upgrade” their profile; this will unlock more categories that will enable attorneys to appear in more searches. Within this directory, users searching for an attorney can search by name, location, specialty, and by practice area. Lawyer Legion also ranks attorneys based on their participation in specialty bar associations, various board certifications, and non-profit legal services.
- Justia’s Lawyer Directory. Justia categorizes lawyers by their practice area and geographic location. The initial profile is free, but attorneys can pay to become a “featured attorney”. These appear in a separate category, at the top and right-hand side of the page, so that they appear first.
- Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute (LII). This directory includes duplicate listings from Justia, which is only a perk of placing your listing with Justia’s attorney directory. Also like Justia, you can pay to be a featured attorney on the LII attorney directory.
Attorney Directories Focused on Paid Listings
- Avvo. Avvo is an incredibly popular online attorney directory that ranks attorneys with a score between 1 and 10. Attorneys can also endorse other attorneys to increase their rank, and clients can post testimonials that will be visible to other people browsing Avvo. Basic listings on Avvo are free, but the site also allows for advertisements. In order to eliminate ads from other attorneys on your listing, you can upgrade to a “pro” listing.
- Martindale-Hubbell. Part of the largest legal network online, Martindale’s online directory offers free basic, skeleton profiles. However, these skeleton profiles don’t even include a phone number or a link to an attorney’s website. Attorneys can pay for a “professional biography”, which will include more detailed information, as well as contact information.
- Lawyers.com. This online attorney directory is owned by the same company that owns Martindale. There are no free listings on Lawyers.com; they are all “paid” or “sponsored” listings.
- FindLaw’s Attorney Directory. According to the website itself, FindLaw boasts over six million consumers visiting each month. All listings are paid or sponsored, and there are over 900,000 American and Canadian attorneys and law firms listed.
- Super Lawyers. The same company that owns FindLaw also acquired Super Lawyers in 2010. Super Lawyers include listings from attorneys that have received extensive amounts of peer recognition and professional achievement based on third-party evaluations. Skeletal listings are free, but attorneys who are selected for inclusion can pay to upgrade their profile in order to include a picture and a link to their website. This expanded online profile will cost a whopping $600 per year, but Super Lawyers also offers other print and digital advertising opportunities to these attorneys with expanded profiles.
Other Attorney Directories that Rank Attorneys
- HG.org Attorney Directory. HG.org allows a free basic listing with opportunities to upgrade to a paid premium listing. Attorneys who have a listing with HG can publish articles at no further cost.
- BestLawyers.com. BestLawyers lists attorneys based on confidential peer review studies performed by other attorneys. Attorneys are listed on BestLawyers based solely on their publication history. The reviews of other lawyers and are prohibited from paying to be included on the BestLawyers list. Publications listed on BestLawyers are published in nearly 70 different countries, as well as all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Legal500.com. Though Legal500 is based in the UK, it provides a guide to the legal market in more than 70 countries. It ranks law firms by the countries they practice in, regions within those countries, and practice area. It does cover firms in the US and includes a team of 50 editors and researchers that maintains its listings.
- LegalZoom Attorney Directory and Network. LegalZoom provides an attorney directory, as well as a compilation of self-representation legal forms for its consumers.
Attorney Directories Maintained by the State Bar
The state bar associations of most states in the US maintain directories that will allow consumers to find an attorney in that jurisdiction. The site lists every attorney licensed in that state. Attorneys can log in to update their address, phone number, and other information.
For example, this is the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Find an Attorney page. Attorneys in every state must visit their state’s site and ensure that their contact information is updated. Because these pages are maintained by an official state entity, they rank extremely high on search engines and are often some of the first directories a potential client will see when searching for an attorney.
The American Bar Association also maintains the Consumer’s Guide to Legal Help. This page allows users to search for legal representation or advice in the US, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Canada. It also allows users to check the status of a lawyer’s license in their state. Like other attorney directories maintained by the state, attorneys can log onto this site to update their contact information.
In Conclusion: Promoting Your Law Firm Through Attorney Directories
The goal of any marketing strategy is to get the name of you and your business in front of your potential consumers, and though it may seem more complicated than it was twenty years ago, that core objective remains the same. Attorney directories, when utilized correctly, can be a cost-effective way to take charge of your marketing strategy.
Remember, it is never a bad idea to allow a professional to handle your digital marketing. Professionals can assure that your information is consistent and sufficient across all platforms.
Contact Digital Logic today for your free law firm strategy consultation!