Friday, November 02, 2012

U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyers Survey – To Participate or Not to Participate, That’s the Question

Posted by Leah Ludwig

Every year, legal marketers across the U.S. debate the need and validity of the U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyers Survey. Some firms have decided to boycott it altogether, while others participate and use their inclusion for marketing, public relations and business development value. Last year, my colleague Gina Rubel asked her legal marketing colleagues on a national listserv if they knew of any law firms or in-house counsel that subscribe to Best Lawyers and use the subscription to guide decisions about hiring counsel.

A marketing director in Virginia said that her firm has in fact received business from their listing in Best Lawyers after linking an attorney’s Best Lawyer profile to the firm’s website. She said that within 12 hours, the attorney had received a call from a prospect who had gone to the Best Lawyer site and saw the attorney’s profile. The attorney was hired with a substantial retainer on what turned out to be a multi-million dollar case. This marketer also said that she knows of lawyers in her own firm who have been contacted by other attorneys who search the deep link listings in Best Lawyers to find other Best Lawyers for referrals. Her firm has had several matters referred to it as a result.

On the other hand, there are many legal marketers who do not see value in Best Lawyers and feel that it is an “arbitrary ranking / metric driving poor business decisions.” To read more about this reasoning, visit Larry Bodine’s LawMarketing Blog.

It is understood that responding to any ranking survey is an investment of lawyer and staff time. The benefits certainly need to outweigh the time investment. That said, when an attorney or law firm is ranked, there is a credibility factor that goes along with it. But the ranking in and of itself, is not what is going to benefit the firm. It’s what the firm does with it. For example, issuing a press release, sharing the release on the firm’s website and via social media, updating attorney bios and adding the news to the firm’s newsletter – are all ways to capitalize on such an investment.

This has been a recent topic of discussion with many of our law firm clients and partners – and to reiterate, the choice is ultimately up to each law firm to decide on the value of the opportunity and whether or not their firm plans to strategically capitalize on its investment with supporting promotional efforts.

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