By Kevin O'Keefe

The lawyer vanity market grows

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The vanity marketing for lawyers is a huge one.

The latest entry comes from  U.S. News & World Report which announced in a press release last week that, in partnership with Best Lawyers, it is releasing an online legal directory of lawyers.

The directory will start with less than 100,000 lawyers, but will eventually include over 1.3 million private-practice lawyers. It is not clear whether law firm and bar association sites will be “scrapped” to get lawyer listings or whether the directory listings are being supplied by Best Lawyers. Law firms can, of course, supply information and there is a FAQ on the site for more info.

Client reviews will not be included, unless a lawyer pays $30 a month for a premium profile.

Best Lawyers media relations manager, Katie Morgan, tells the ABA Journal, lawyers can delete the reviews they don’t like, “and decide which ones, if any, to publish on their profile,”

In addition to being able to publish favorable reviews, lawyers paying the $30 a month may display rankings and awards with their profile in “ an ad-free experience.” Presumably this means that ads from competing lawyers and law firms will be sold around the directory listings of non-paying lawyers.

Lawyers will pay for this listing. The more directory listings the better for many lawyers. The more online walls to hang their plaques and awards. Better yet, for $30 a month, you get a valuable link back to your website for SEO. A link from an influential news authority like U.S. News was.

The press release says the comprehensive guide will serve as a valuable resource for consumers seeking legal assistance. But how valuable is the information to people and businesses when selecting a lawyer?

Tim Smart, executive editor of U.S. News, says:

U.S. News helps millions of people each year make complex decisions, from finding the right hospital or doctor to identifying the best college, online program or graduate school. We’re delighted to team up with Best Lawyers to offer our audience new legal resources.

U.S. News bills itself as “the global authority in rankings and consumer advice.” Best Lawyers® bills itself as “the world’s only purely peer-review™ guide to top talent in the legal profession.”

“The global authority” and “the world’s only purely peer-review.” I don’t know.

And look at the standard for lawyers getting into the directory.

Inclusion in the Lawyer Directory is solely based on whether an attorney is currently working in private practice. A lawyer does not need to be ranked by U.S. News or Best Lawyers to appear on the site, and there is no charge for a lawyer’s basic information to appear in the U.S. News Lawyer Directory.

A lawyer in private practice needs to be breathing to qualify for inclusion in the directory.

Where does it stop and couldn’t we, as lawyers and law firms, do better?

I get the need for directories – maybe. But more of them? And to cast your directory as special and authoritative, which this one doesn’t appear to be.

As a lawyer, why not use the Internet in a little more constructive way – by helping businesses and individuals and building a name for yourself – rather than buying vanity.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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