Bloomberg’s new Big Law Business site has run a couple of videos in recent weeks offering different perspectives on the perennial issue of whether the American Lawyer financial survey is a good thing for the legal profession.
Archives for July 2015
MLex has reporters and lawyers in more than a dozen bureaus around the world, including Brussels, Washington DC, Sao Paolo, Hong Kong and San Francisco.
In a statement, Mike Walsh, CEO of LexisNexis Legal & Professional, said:
“Access to breaking news and expert analysis of the latest developments in regulatory risk is becoming ever more critical for our customers.
With the addition of MLex, LexisNexis will be able to provide global in-depth coverage of key developments in regulatory risk allowing our clients to keep abreast of the changing regulatory landscape.”
Rapidly growing lawyer directory Avvo has received a further $71.5 million in financing.
The latest funding round was led by Technology Crossover Ventures, with participation from Vulcan Capital and existing investor, Coatue.
In an announcement, Avvo said it will use the cash to accelerate hiring, increase Avvo brand awareness through marketing initiatives, and expand its product offerings.
The latest financing round brings the total venture investment in Avvo to $132 million.
In the last year, Avvo has doubled the number of contacts it makes between consumers and attorneys – now 650,000.
Avvo’s legal Q&A forum is the largest online, with nearly 7.5 million questions and answers, and Avvo attracts around 8 million visitors a month to its website.
In 2014, Avvo closed $37.5 million in financing led by Coatue, with additional investment from Benchmark Capital, Ignition Partners and DAG Ventures.
Bloomberg has reported that Avvo is valued at around $650 million, a remarkable figure for a legal sector business that was only founded in 2007.
According to Avvo CEO Mark Britton, the company may go public in the future.
Pictured: Avvo office in Seattle, from Glassdoor
This is the question asked by Richard Pettet over at Defero Law.
Richard knows a thing or two about this area, having formerly been head of advertising at Chambers & Partners, one of the leading directories.
Essentially his point is that the plain text profiles dished out by the likes of Chambers and Legal 500 haven’t changed much in 20 years – which is true.
Some directories have more comprehensive profile offerings – SuperLawyers, for example, offers videos, Avvo has all sorts of bells and whistles, and there are many other retail and consumer-focused legal directories with modern profile options.
But it’s surprising that Chambers and Legal 500 haven’t developed their profile offerings – video is the obvious example, social media links, and other additions, to give the profiles more richness and depth.
In their defense, these directories might argue that they’re principally research organizations, not digital publishers, and their product development efforts in recent years have played to their strengths: research-driven analysis such as Chambers Confidential, customized benchmarking reports, or Legal 500’s latest client survey initiatives, for example.
There is after all plenty of competition in the online profile world – LinkedIn, the prime example – so let’s be realistic here.
The truth, as Pettet suggests, is probably inertia, both from the directories, and the legal marketing teams.
In that context, a lot of firms view profile spend as a sort of “relationship management fee”, rather than a payment for a specific product which is expected to deliver a certain outcome.
In other words, the annual profile fee is just a standard line item that gets paid each year without much thought, and no great expectation, other than it keeps the relationship with the directories reasonably warm, and keeps your firm in the mix with all the others that do the same thing.
Where directories are concerned, most legal marketers want an easy life, and few companies will innovate without any pressure placed upon them.
There’s nothing wrong with such a status quo, but it makes for pretty bland profiles, and has stifled any innovation which might make for a more compelling visual experience for legal directory users.
Like everything in the legal sector, the situation probably will change, but it will be a slow process.
The online barrister directory, RateMyBarrister, has rebranded and relaunched as LegalBods.
After starting off as barrister site, solicitors were allowed to join from April 2015.
According to the latest announcement, every lawyer in England and Wales is now listed at LegalBods.
In the same announcement, LegalBods says this about directory client reviews:
“Traditional legal directories allow lawyers to carefully create, control and distort their reviews by only accepting references from nominated persons. How many lawyers have anything but 100% positive reviews? How many firms are able to exhibit endless awards?
In this sea of positive reviews, prospective clients are unable to really gather which lawyers provide the best services for their clients. Not only does this lead to an unappealing decision making process which is distorted by an inherently biased review system, but it contributes to the negative perception of the legal industry as arcane, closed and arrogant.”
This is not entirely accurate.
Of course, with the likes of Chambers and Legal 500, law firms can use the client reference process to direct the researchers towards clients that they believe will say nice things about them.
However, in a confidential phone call with the directories, clients don’t always say what the law firms want them to say, and the traditional directories do receive lots of negative feedback from clients, as well as the positive.
While it is not visible or published, the less favorable feedback informs and influences the rankings and commentary.
Also, the client references supplied by the law firms are not the directories only source of information – they are supplemented by the directories own databases of client references, various other third party sources, the publications’ own editorial judgment, and, of course, the substantive written information in submissions.
That said, I think LegalBods hits upon something, which is that there is room in the market for products that feature direct, unvarnished client quotes rather than the anonymized, unattributed ones that you find in the traditional research directories.
LegalBods says that it receives dozens of client reviews each day, with its lawyer reviews often highlighting areas such as poor pricing, hidden expenses, and a lack of communication.
RateMyBarrister was founded by barrister William Rees in January 2015.
Rees is based at Civitas Law in Cardiff.