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Internet lawyer directories work?

It’s hard for me to believe that online lawyer directories like FindLaw’s do much for lawyers paying to be listed by city and practice area. Have any lawyers who have paid for listings in FindLaw had good results in procuring new clients as a result of the listing? Please let me know. If you’ve paid for listings and not gotten results, let me know as well. I’ll share the results here.

I saw lawyer Bill Portanova, a friend from law school, on the Abrams Report on MSNBC last night and wanted to drop him an email. Knowing he practiced federal criminal defense law in Sacramento, I thought I may be able to find him listed in the FindLaw directory. Forget it.

FindLaw has five pages of one line listings of law firms. At the top of the list are two sponsored listings from national outfits. I assume those companies paid big bucks to FindLaw to get top listings for large metro areas when FindLaw was unable to sell the spots to local law firms. There were then nine law firm listings in bold slightly larger one line listings with firm name, phone number and links to View Profile and Visit Web Site. Finally there was a random list of hundreds of firm one line listings by name and a link to View Profile beginning at the bottom of the first page and continuing for five more pages.

There is no way to distinguish these lawyers by the type of criminal work they do or if they even do that much criminal defense work. Remember the days when we just checked boxes on the Martindale-Hubbell listing to make certain we covered everything the firm ever conceivably did. I expect that same shot gun approach goes on here.

For sophisticated Internet users, which now comprises the majority of people, this type of a yellow pages 2.0 is not going to cut it. Folks don’t have the time to go in and out of Web sites for hours. In addition many of those law firm Web sites are indistinguishable ‘brochure-ware’ anyway. People looking for a lawyer are going to do searches on the search engines directly and find law firm Web sites or blog sites of lawyers who have criminal defense experience and which have legal information about the legal situation they face.

Are consumers warming up to this type of FindLaw directory of lawyers as a way to select a lawyer? I would be surprised to hear so. But let me know if I am wrong.

If lawyers are not getting great results, could it be that FindLaw will make a lot of sales as they have sales people on the road, just like the yellow pages people do, and most lawyers do not really understand Internet marketing? That’s entirely possible.

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