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May 01, 2019 Articles

Marketing with Directory Listings

How to optimize your listing and attract more clients using lawyer directories.

By Michael L. Goldblatt

Competition among lawyer directories expanded in 2018 when U.S. News & World Report partnered with Best Lawyers to create an online legal directory that contains listings of over one million lawyers. The directory business has come a long way since James Martindale launched the directory of lawyers over 150 years ago. Martindale’s Directory continued in print for 140 years until it was replaced with an online edition in 2008. Read on to optimize your listing and attract more clients using lawyer directories.

The Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Directory is now owned by Internet Brands, a media powerhouse that owns several law sites such as,, and; and consumer websites such as,, and Other major directory publishers include Justia, Inc., which runs, and Thomas Reuters, which runs,, and Most of these publishers provide website design and hosting services for a fee in addition to offering free directory listings.

Selecting a Directory

There are dozens of legal directories that offer free listings. Criteria for choosing directories include the cost of premium features, number of visitors, and relevance to your practice areas. To attract clientele, consider focusing on popular lawyer directories like,,,,, and You might also consider listing in general directories such as Apple Maps, Google My Business, Microsoft’s Bing Business, and Yahoo Local Listing to further enhance your visibility on the Internet. Listing at Google My Business is especially helpful for visibility due to the popularity of Google’s research tool, Google Search.

Managing Your Listings

Start by assigning responsibility to a staff member for creating and updating directory listings. The staffer can prepare a list of directories for your approval and then confirm that up-to-date information has been posted on them. To add information to a directory, your staffer can go to each directory’s website to find guidelines for posting. Once a directory listing has been created, it should take no more than 30 minutes per directory to annually audit your listings and add or update information for each partner and associate.

What to Include in Your Listing

Your directory listing should include attorney names, biography details, and practice areas. To distinguish your firm, consider paying for premium features like enhanced placement and the option to add information about your achievements, practice areas, publications, and speeches. Include links to your website and to your social media accounts at Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


The growth of the Internet has resulted in the decline of printed directories and the growth of online directories for lawyers. Listing in multiple directories will bring clients to your firm by making your firm stand out and easy to find by prospective clients. Directory listings also improve the ranking of your firm’s website with search engines like Bing, Google, and Yahoo.


It has been estimated that the legal profession now spends in excess of $1 billion annually to advertise using directories, billboards, Internet, radio, and television. Marketing experts recommend spending roughly 2 to 5 percent of annual revenues on marketing activities. Although most directories offer free listings, paying for premium features should improve your firm’s visibility. Carefully examine your options and comply with ethical requirements. Consider using a consultant to track results and optimize benefits from directory listings.


Directory listings are an important and inexpensive tool for attracting clients to your firm. Directories allow potential clients to search by practice area, geography, and other factors. Potential clients will use directory listings to learn about lawyers and compare their capabilities before setting up initial consultations. A small investment of time in maintaining your listing is well worth the effort. 

Michael L. Goldblatt has authored numerous books and articles about marketing for lawyers.

Copyright © 2019, American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association, the Section of Litigation, this committee, or the employer(s) of the author(s).