A law firm marketing consultant is so fed up of getting asked whether such and such a survey is legitimate or not that he’s created a shared spreadsheet indicating whether various legal publications are scams.
“Who Hates Spammy Lawyer Awards?” is the brainchild of law firm website designer, Igor Ilyinsky.
Ilyinsky (pictured), who runs the Firmwise agency, said:
“I must get asked a dozen times a month if I’ve heard of THIS AWARD, and usually it’s a pay-to-play scam, so I was inspired to create a shared google form.”
To contribute to the crowdsourced venture, you click on the form, name the publication, and then indicate how reputable it is by checking one of the following:
- Pure spam
- Real, but not reputable
- Semi-reputable with free option
- Reputable award but pay to-play
- Reputable, cannot be bought
Now, I’m always a bit conflicted when it comes to establishing any sort of standardized pecking order of respectability for legal awards and surveys.
Sure, I regularly advise clients and contacts as to the authenticity of various awards, some of which are embarrassingly naked in their money-grabbing attempts, and even the slightly more plausible ones that are not outright scams use a variety of shady, boiler room tactics.
But some of these products are genuine and determining what is appropriate will vary according to the type of firm involved.
For its part, vanity publishing has a long history and occupies its own niche in the market.
A number of the culprits on the spam list are essentially organizations that ask law firms to write an article – for a fee, of course – which the publication will then distribute across a variety of print and online channels.
Not everyone’s cup of tea, and pretty dated when it comes to legal marketing techniques, but not a scam.
Smaller firms with limited marketing resources sometimes opt for these, as it gives them a quick hit.
Where we move into dodgy territory, though, is where publishers claim to have done some “research” in order to reveal that you –yes, you – are “lawyer of the year for X”.
Usually in a breathless, pander-to-the-ego “don’t miss this opportunity” kind of way.
Of course, they haven’t done any research at all, or very little, but they say they have because they think it gives the award more credibility, and makes it more likely that the lawyer will buy a tombstone or advert.
Some lawyers know this of course – they’re not all gullible – but will take the award because, well, it’s an accolade that they can tout, and, being realistic, perhaps their chances of winning one of the more prestigious awards are limited.
Every law firm should develop policy guidelines as to which rankings, surveys, and awards they should participate with, and to what extent, but it is horses for courses.
What might be rejected by an AmLaw100 firm as low-grade may be OK for a small independent firm in Romania.
I’m not going to be mean and link to Mr. Ilyinsky’s shame list, but feel free to contact him directly if you want to see or contribute to his chart.