Phillip Greer is the CEO of Best Lawyers®, a respected Purely Peer Review® legal research and accolades company.
Where do people go when they’re looking for a financial advisor? A physician specialist? A new insurance broker? Chances are, their first stop is the internet. The same is true for people seeking legal counsel. In fact, as many as 64% of people with a legal problem start their research online. And yet, 21% of those people mistakenly believe Google ranks lawyers based on qualifications. That kind of misperception is likely to extend their search process or, worse, saddle them with poorly fitting legal counsel.
Meanwhile, legal marketers are trying to attract the right clients. Just like clients wouldn’t want to waste time navigating a dense pool of potential attorneys, you want to be sure the potential clients your law firm meets with are the right fit for your expertise and practice areas. To position your law firm as a leader in its field and reach the right clients at the right time, I believe it’s important to consider the unique and important role legal rankings play in a world where tech tools, AI and search engines have become ubiquitous gatekeepers between them and potential clients.
Firms have to go where the people are, and the people are online. If you are seeking to work with a legal rankings partner, it is important to find one with the right expertise to showcase what your firm has to offer. But like any partnership, there are also a few key elements to be mindful of when selecting the ranking organization that will deliver the best results. Here are a few areas to help you find the best-ranking partner for your needs.
Traits Of Effective Legal Rankings Partners
1. Transparent And Verifiable Processes
Reputable rankings will never be pay-to-play, and the organization conducting them should always be transparent about their methodologies. Their process should be backed by hard data and repeatable, verifiable science. Review the methodology section of their website, and be willing to discuss in-depth questions with their research team if you need additional clarification. Not only will the strength of the methodology impact the prestige of the rankings in the legal community, but savvy clients may research your firm’s accolades when deciding between firms. Working with a reputable legal ranking partner can help ensure potential clients’ findings meet and exceed their expectations for their prospective law firm.
2. Tailored Digital Results
An effective legal rankings partner should tailor results for digital platforms with the knowledge that rankings will most likely become part of generative AI output in time and must be optimized for search. While digital processes allow companies to streamline operations, I recommend looking for a partner that emphasizes using digitized research systems and standardized algorithms to deliver scientific results with a maximized reach that reflects the breadth of the U.S. legal industry and the vast array of practice areas that comprise it. Over time, generative AI will likely supplant traditional search engines as sources of truth, so look for a partner that is focused on taking such necessary technical steps to ensure their legal rankings are a trusted data source for generative AI output.
3. Skilled Human Intervention
Even though technology plays a critical role in developing and proliferating legal rankings, at the end of the day, it’s not an automated process. Any worthwhile ranking service benefits from human intervention by experts who can oversee the process, manage the technology, spot anomalies and authenticate or validate every insight the data offers. When researching a legal rankings partner, consider if and how they utilize input from the legal community when developing their awards. Do they collaborate with lawyers and law firms to gather data in a true partnership? Entities that have won the trust and support of a large network of legal industry leaders will be better positioned as sources of truth for AI data sources.
Digital footprints, SEO and brand authority are likely all going to have increased value in a world with a growing generative AI presence. These steps can help you develop your law firm’s marketing and promotional strategies with platforms and agencies that understand the value of these focus areas. The more accurate information you can feed into these digital systems, the more accessible your firm’s information can be to prospective clients using these innovative systems and search engines reliant on AI.