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Super Lawyers in the Marketing Mix

Super Lawyers in the Marketing Mix

Some lawyers don’t like Super Lawyers. We get it.  Some just don’t like the attention; others find it “unseemly” to be chosen for a list labeled “Super”. Still others just don’t like the thought of being ranked at all. 

But more – perhaps many more — are justifiably proud to be chosen to the Super Lawyers list.  The otherwise snarky article by Karen Donovan that appeared last week in Conde Nast Portfolio quotes New York attorney Theodore V. Wells Jr. of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison:

“I live in a world where we don’t advertise, but I believe strongly that lawyers ought to be able to advertise and I think that the Super Lawyers publication is first-rate.”

A Google News search reveals nearly 50 press releases in October alone referencing attorneys’ rankings on the Super Lawyers list. Do the advertisements that accompany the lists work for lawyers? We have many willing to say so – visit www.superlawyers.com and refresh to see the testimonials on the lower right-hand side. 

The Portfolio writer offers, supposedly for shock value, the $20,000 price tag for a full-page advertising profile in the Super Lawyers supplement to the New York Times Magazine published on September 23. But she offers no perspective. Here is one: A recent issue of The Economist has a full-page, $64,000 ad for a prestigious national firm featuring a ferocious looking grizzly bear – and this ad is part of a much larger campaign.

Is the price too much for a full page advertising profile in New York Super Lawyers? Well, 950,000 readers opened up the New York Times Magazine that Sunday morning.  Considering that the Super Lawyers special section took up half the magazine, chances are good that these people saw it.

We also sent New York Super Lawyers magazine to virtually every lawyer and judge in the New York metropolitan area — more than 120,000 potential referral sources.  And, we distributed the magazine nationwide to the in-house counsel of the Russell 3000 and to every ABA accredited law school library in the country.
Call that 1.7 million high-end consumers and potential referral sources.

And what about the ads?  If Portfolio’s writer had taken a few seconds to thumb through the Super Lawyers publication, she would not have mistakenly concluded that the ads are a bunch of lawyers congratulating each other. They are, in fact, attorney and firm profiles that provide useful information about the lawyers: practice areas, past experience, accomplishments, past cases, transactions, preparatory background, philosophy regarding the practice, information about the firm and so forth – precisely the information consumers and referring attorneys need. 

Super Lawyers profile ads are certainly more informative than the firm’s name on the side of a building, more relevant than a public television sponsorship, more client-friendly than an expensive glossy brochure, and less expensive than a flash-animated website.

Firms who follow the advice of self-styled legal marketing gurus miss an opportunity to deliver a highly relevant, “scientific and objective” message to a lot of influential people: “Our lawyers are outstanding, and here’s why.”

Let’s be clear:  Advertising in Super Lawyers is not the end-all of law firm marketing.  But whether or not some lawyers like being ranked alongside others, Super Lawyers gets read — by attorneys, judges and high-end consumers.  And we know that often as not, the client chooses the attorney, not the firm.  Since Super Lawyers highlights attorneys who are considered in the state’s upper echelon, it merits a look as part of the mix. 

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