Being Listed As a “Best Lawyer” Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be
Updated April 2021
A common attorney marketing pitch comes from the remnants of old print publications. Niche publications like “Top Lawyers” or “Best Lawyers in America” offer to elevate an attorney’s marketing appearance through a ‘featured’ listing in their publication.
In fact, Best Lawyers still has a yearly publication of attorneys. If you are featured as a “best lawyer,” you will get a page in their book and a professional plaque for your office. And, because this is the Internet age, you also get a listing on their website and a digital badge for your website.
Of course, the only criteria to be featured as a “best lawyer” is a valid credit card. Attorneys are aware that a “best lawyer” award is not the legal profession’s version of an Emmy. The real question is: will your potential clients know?
Legal Clients Have No Idea What “Best Lawyer” Awards Are
Think about the stages of a potential client’s journey while they search for an attorney. Often, this starts with a legal dilemma. From there, the potential client begins to search for an attorney.
According to Moz.com, 67% of customers/clients are influenced by online reviews. With online reviews at the forefront of most buying choices, it is natural to look at the top review platforms like Google, Yelp, Bing, and Facebook. There are other platforms, but these tend to be the core group.
The common element to the platforms listed above is that they are trusted (mostly), used by millions, and are well populated with all types of business reviews.
There are a few attorney-specific review websites that rank on the top pages of Google. However, those are densely packed under the better known “Local Pack,” where Google reviews sit above all else.
Someone searching for an attorney may look at sites like Best Lawyers or Avvo, but most likely long after they already search familiar spaces on the internet. Unsurprisingly, paid ad spaces on attorney niche sites underperform compared to the core review platforms.
Do “Top Attorney” Website Badges Convert?
I have had the pleasure of working with thousands of attorneys on their marketing. In my Accelerated groups, we have discussed the pros and cons of website badges. If you are not familiar, these are images that announce that you are the “Car Accident Attorney of 20XX.”
My own law firm has split-tested “best lawyer” website badges on our home page, our testimonial page, and our article pages. The results are always “okay but not great.” Sure, sometimes we notice people stay on a page with badges longer, but the results are rarely significant enough to make an impact on our all-important metric; revenue.
At my law firm, BenGlassLaw, new clients often cite my online reviews, books, and webinars as the reason they sign. No client has ever mentioned an Avvo or Best Lawyer badge.
My Accelerated members all get similar results.
If you are still convinced that attorney “best lawyer” badges are the best way to improve your website, I encourage you to think of your buying behavior.
Would you select a barber who has zero online reviews but dozens of “Best Barber” awards? Or, would you select a barber with no awards but glowing online reviews? Studies, like the one I mentioned earlier in the article, suggest most people would choose the latter barber.
No Matter Which Awards You Purchase, Your Reputation Carries Your Law Firm
Are “Best Lawyer” awards going to bring you more clients? Probably not.
However, website badges and featured listings can be part of a great attorney marketing strategy. What you are considering is just a small part of what you can do to attract more clients, and what you need is a big picture.
Most attorneys start their firms assuming that being a really, really good attorney should, in and of itself, be a marketing advantage. Those attorneys believe that joining a whole bunch of committees and putting their name in lawyer directories is “marketing,” and they never bother to ask if there is a better way.
Attorneys are catching on, however, and those who succeed learn to leverage their current resources to create effective (and ethical) marketing. What they discover isn’t a magic pill or silver bullet but a different approach to marketing that your competitors haven’t considered.
by Ben Glass
Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.