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.