While I am reading the End of Lawyers I decided to share some of the insights our firm gained over the years in the business of legal services. Fifteen years ago we all happily relied on the various legal directories to make the existence of our firms know to the world at large. It was at the times when no advertising for law firms was a paramount rule and there was absolutely no way other than the directories to appear publicly. Although our firm is strongly against advertising for lawyers up to this day and avoids using media to communicate its existence, we do believe that appearing in the directories is no longer essential for a visible market presence. Although Croatian law firms were prohibited to have their own web sites until 2009, the sheer multitude of information on the web about anything, including a law firm’s activities, started substituting the directories’ presence in a big way. Nowadays, another victim of Internet, the directories became ossified relics of the past age. The very idea that one pays against publication of simple set of data is absurd in the time of interactive social sites and other phenomena of the Web 2.o.
Even the directories whose research and ranking of the firms helped them stay afloat in the early Internet age are challenged to correct their pricing models in order to survive. It is simply unattractive for the users to have the intrusive researchers taking their time again and again for the sake of their own interests. As a managing partner of one of the bigger firms in my jurisdiction I should attest that we have never been able to ascertain whether we gained any client through a directory, lest justify paying for any additional space for communicating additional data on our firm. Some five years ago we started refusing any publication that required paying as a consideration. We took the position that we should be paid for filling anyone’s pages with articulate material and have started asking for evidence that that such payment would possibly result in increased exposure to the interested clients. The answers we were getting were so out of tune with our market situation that we have simply stopped considering the directories as useful part of legal services market and industry. Tactics of scaring a customer into buying a position by listing the potentially interested competitors quickly wear off and there are very few viable propositions that a directory can make now to keep their client’s attention, especially when most of the competitors stay out of the game themselves.