If are connected to any lawyers on LinkedIn, chances are that lately, you’ve seen a lot of attorneys and law firms posting about their Best Lawyers or Super Lawyers rankings. Maybe you are one of them.

I’m not going to say much about how to do that tastefully. Stefanie Marrone eloquently made those points in a recent post on LinkedIn where she suggested:

  • Don’t make it all about you or start off with how “honored” or “humbled” you are.
  • Make it about the teamwork and contributions of your colleagues.
  • Focus on your clients, what you did this year work wise or your how you got to where you are today.
  • Tell stories.

Instead, I wanted to comment on why you should post about this at all (and why I’ve made a concerted effort to let people know that I won the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Reader Rankings Awards in three categories this year–#1 Lawyer Outplacement, #2 Business Development Coach, and #2 Executive Coaching).

Rankings Alone Don’t Generate Work; But They Do Have Value

It is easy to be a little cynical about rankings. After all, there is no panel of judges sitting around giving out these awards. Instead, the winners are generally the individuals and law firms who were the most effective in getting people to vote for them.

Furthermore, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Reader Rankings Awards all generate significant advertising revenue (that is paid by the recipients of these awards to the publications that award them).

In addition, it is highly unlikely that any prospective client is going to call you just because you are a “Best Lawyer” or a “Super Lawyer”.

In my case, I asked A LOT of people to vote for me. And you can be sure that not all of them were paying clients. I also spent real money to take advantage of the advertising programs that were being offered by MLW (the first time I’ve spent money on advertising in over 15 years!)

But I don’t expect these ads to generate inquiries from lawyers who don’t already know me.

So why invest any time, energy, and $’s to participate in these rankings?

The short answer is that getting ranked is validating. If someone has been referred to you, they are going to Google your name and check out your on-line bio. Seeing on LinkedIn or on your law firm website that you’ve been ranked, demonstrates that someone thinks you are good at what you do.

It’s not why someone looks you up in the first place; but it provides something tangible to corroborate what the referral source said about you. Or if they learned about you when you did a presentation or published an article, seeing these added credentials in your bio is helpful.

Of course your bio should also be filled with representative matters that feature the types of clients you have worked with and the types of problems you solved for those clients.

Clients Hire Lawyers Who They Know, Like, and Trust

Most people who hire lawyers don’t have a good way to evaluate their competence. Instead, clients are looking for proxies to prove that the attorney can do the work and provide quality legal representation.

If clients are given two names and only one of those lawyers has awards to his or her name, the other lawyer will be at a disadvantage. Displaying these awards helps to build trust.

Furthermore, asking people to vote for you is a way to continue to remind your clients, prospective clients, and referral sources that you are out there. Since legal services are by there nature high end purchases that don’t happen every day, finding ways to remain visible over time is key in building your practice.

Finally, announcing that you have been acknowledged is a great opportunity to thank your clients and referral sources (and a chance for you to receive a lot of “attaboys”–don’t underestimate how good it feels to have people congratulate you; I know it felt great last week when I made my own announcement.)

There are many ways to spend time and money to generate work. Rankings are certainly not the most important thing to focus on in your marketing arsenal. But they shouldn’t be ignored either.

Just don’t let buying advertising in one of these publications be a substitute for genuine relationship building. Investing in relationship building is ultimately where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

Want to talk about other ways you can spend your limited time (and money) on marketing? Feel free to check out the many other free resources on my website and book a complementary discovery session. I’m happy to spend 30 minutes with you to help sort out your own marketing or career questions.

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