A new generic top-level domain (gTLD) intended for lawyers arrived in October with quite a bit of fanfare.
The .law domain functions in a similar fashion as .com or .net, but with a naming convention that also suggests focus. The .law domain will ostensibly work in the same way .org domains describe a non-profit or .gov is suggestive of a government agency.
The new domain is reserved for “law firms and credentialed lawyers” according to the WSJ Law Blog.
Writing for Legaltech News, Erin Harrison reported the domain would be free for law schools and pointed to notable “early adopters” including “state associations such as the Florida Bar, Am Law 100 firms Orrick, Skadden, and DLA Piper, as well as the American Association for Justice.”
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Cybersquatting and .Law Domains
The question remains: what difference will having a .law domain make for a law firms business? Industry watchers indicated the .law domains are a risk mitigation tactic rather than a proactive law firm marketing advantage.
On the Legal Watercooler, contributor Igor Ilyinsky points to reputational risks and cybersquatting. “Firms that are very concerned about their brand identity being hijacked should consider reserving all the possible domain names,” he wrote. He also points out it probably doesn’t have the same level of risk for smaller firms.
Other legal marketing experts expressed similar views.
“So long as a law firm has the .com, it is all set. Firms should reserve their own name, just to prevent cybersquatting,” said Larry Bodine, a web and marketing consultant, in an email interview with the Business of Law Blog. “There is no evidence that I’ve seen that a .law domain will provide an advantage in search engine ranking.”
He points out the most important part of a domain is “what you do with it.”
Lawyers should frequently create high quality, original content for the site that exists nowhere else online,” he said. “Furthermore, don’t engage in dubious SEO practices like purchasing links, stuffing keywords or anything else that will get a negative response from Google.”
The aforementioned WSJ Law Blog piece summed it up this way:
“A lawyer at one of the firms that was gifted a .law domain expressed skepticism about its value, saying Internet users already know how to find them on the Internet. ‘It won’t make a huge difference, but it certainly can’t hurt,’ the lawyer told Law Blog.”
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