When I wrote my marketing column for the November/December 2017 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine, Revisiting Lawyer Ratings and Rankings, I lamented how dealing with the R&R industry felt like it took up time during every single working day. So it seemed somewhat ironic that the magazine arrived in my mailbox on the same day that I penned more than a half dozen press releases for law firms announcing their results from the 2018 U.S. News/Best Lawyers’ “Best Law Firms” honors.
Now it happens that as ratings go, I have respect for the good people at Best Lawyers and U.S. News. They are always easy to work with—and unlike some others named in the column—they avoid the used car sales approach with my law firm clients. They lend a guiding hand with the process, regardless of how much the firm might be spending on the “award” product line. Perhaps your experiences have varied. We all have very subjective feelings to who and what in this business is credible. You may find the ones that give you the highest honors to certainly be the most legitimate!
What entities are referenced by name in this month’s column? In order of appearance: Best Lawyers and U.S. News, Chambers USA, Avvo, American Lawyer Media (ALM), Lawyers of Distinction, Expertise.com, Yelp, Super Lawyers, Rising Stars and Martindale.
Coincidentally, my 2017 marketing ethics CLE program is based on the column (or maybe it was vice-versa), Mastering the Three Rs–Lawyer Ratings, Rankings & Reviews, one of the more popular topics that I address. Whether you read my column or attend the CLE—or both—you get a pretty good feel for just how much of an impact the concept of lawyer ratings and rankings have on the profession. It is a subject that has been fodder for law marketing conferences for decades now, with only one result really changing. The players remain the same. State Bars struggle with the surrounding ethics issues. But the one change is that there are MORE of them now, not less. And determining which ones you are going to pay attention to is increasingly difficult. You might love Chambers USA and hate Super Lawyers. Or love Super Lawyers and hate Martindale. Or prefer how you rate online with Google or Yelp. And maybe you prefer the local-yokel “Crazy Great Lawyers of South Jersey” (or something like that in your own backyard) that has minimal methodology requirements but lots of good ad sales people. It is a very, very subjective business, for sure.
I’ve already received a number of e-mails from lawyers that have read the Law Practice column. Most write me to agree, and add an anecdote of their own. But others contact me to ask about how they can improve their standing with some of the companies that I referenced—because, regardless of the actual impact, they still want to be on the list. And so it goes…