Elephant Post: What's the Future of Legal Directories?

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What is the future of legal directories?  Are they still valuable?  If so, in what form?
This question came to us from Dallas law librarian, Kevin Miles. What surprised me in this week's answers was the fact that no legal marketing people chimed in to give an answer. Aren't they the people that support these directories? Maybe I'm reading too much into that (frankly, it could be because they don't read 3 Geeks), but it would seem that law firm marketing folks should have some opinions on this issue. I'm hoping that maybe we can get those marketers to give us something in the comments section (hint… hint…)

Next week's post (see below) should also be an interesting question… one that Toby Brown and I thought of after a Jason Wilson tweet about why incoming law students are still encouraged to read Scott Turows's One-L, even though the book was written in the mid 1970's. My snide remark back to Jason was to ask "have law schools really changed that much since 1977?" We won't ask you to go back that far, but we really want to know what really has changed in the structure of law schools in the past twenty or so years? Scoll down after you read this week's answers, and chime in with your own perspective.

Sid Kaskey
Law Librarian

No future and it is not a question that keeps me up nights...but the legal digest for various states once available via Martindale now there is something still useful.

Martin Korn
Law Librarian

I believe that as firm to firm mobility increases it will become crucial for attorneys to have some sort of home base.  When an attorney moves from one firm to another much of their history is lost on the new firm's website.  By maintaining a directory listing (and let's face it, online is the only one that will matter) an attorney has the ability to keep her or his complete cv available.  It is also a great way to hang on to contacts from previous firms and clients, assuming the legal directories continue to evolve into social media sites.

Toby Brown

I don't see how traditional legal directories can sustain in the long-run, or even sooner than that.  The value proposition to a lawyer or firm is that clients will find you that way.  That method of finding a lawyer is fading into the sunset.  Maybe lawyers with a "retail" consumer practice will find some short-term value there, but I just can't see it sustaining.

New breeds of directories may have a fighting chance though.  One example I recently saw is BidYourCase where clients describe their needs and subscribing lawyers bid to get the work.  Even then, the site will need very strong SEO to be found by clients.

I realize some firms will cling to these tools, since they will get some clients from then.  But as my former boss and mentor used to say, "Bus bench ads work.  With enough of them out there, you are bound to get one phone call."  The point being, there are much better ways to spend your limited marketing dollars.

Sarah Mauldin
Law Librarian

I find directories great for hunting down possible lateral hires, but not for much else.  I think they are dead in print, but may continue to live online as long as the pricing models are changed.  Ever since the Martindale Digests stopped being provided in print, I've had no need for the rest of M-H in print, either.

Next Week's Elephant Post:
What Has Really Changed In Legal Education in the Past 20 Years?
I don't know about you, but I can't have a meeting at work without that overused phrase "The New Normal" popping its ugly head up in the middle of every presentation. To be honest, it could probably be used in one of our previous Elephant Post Questions were we morphed the Princess Bride quote (I think you need to look up the phrase "New Normal." I don't think it means what you think it means.) Any amount of change equals "New Normal." Any amount of cuts, pain, reduction in force, bonus reductions, etc., is all chalked up to "The New Normal."

Well… what's the "New Normal" in law schools? For many of us standing on the outside looking in, we haven't seen a lot of changes. Are we wrong? Is there something we're missing?

If you're inside the law firm environment, tell us what were missing. If you're like me, and are standing outside looking in, then let us know what you think has changed (or, what you think needs to change.)

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Liz M. C. S. said...

I think the legal directory is on the way out - even in an online format, and especially if one has to pay to be listed or to gain access. One of the contributors mentioned attorneys needing a home base as they move around. That's true, but having your own website takes care of that and allows complete control. It's easy to make your own or cheap to hire someone to make it for you. Even easier and cheaper: LinkedIn. It's searchable, you keep your contacts no matter where your career goes, and it allows you to provide as much (or more, or less) information as the directories.


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