Best Legal Directories: free legal directories vs paid legal directories for local SEO rankings

legal directory


  1. Best legal directories: free legal directory vs paid legal directory
  2. Advertise on legal directories
  3. Reach more clients using legal directories
  4. Niche specific attorney directories: Bankruptcy Law, Family Law, Personal Injury, Immigration
  5. Legal directories in Spanish
  6. State Bar Approved lawyer referral services or a directory
  7. Law Firm directories for local SEO rankings

Best legal directories? Free legal directory vs paid legal directory:

  • FindLaw
  • Avvo
  • LegalMatch
  • Justia
  • Lista Legal

Chances are that if you have ever been looking for a lawyer online some of this sites have come up on the first page when you did your search. These are some of the most popular and most visited attorney directory sites on the Internet.

What are these directories for? The main purpose is to gather lawyers in different legal areas and present them to you in an organized way that is easy to understand and easy for you to contact one of the lawyers listed.

Now leaving aside the list of attorneys that is in front of you when you open either one of those directories, they all offer a few perks and have certain advantages and disadvantages from each other.

Advertising on Legal Directories:

If you are a lawyer, the main reason why you should be listed on online directories is the same one than for having a website, a business card, a business phone number or an email, it’s so that potential clients in need for legal services can find, contact you and hire you. A lot of the marketing money is wasted so it’s important that you test and allocate your dollar towards the channels that produce more results.

These are my top 3, all time favorite platforms for legal advertising online, in the following order:

  • Social Media: Facebook Ads,
  • PPC: Google Ads,
  • Legal directories and other legal related high traffic websites.

Some directories can bring you a lot more value than others, and when you want to compare which one is going to bring you better results, more clients, then you should take into account a few things: price for listing, price for advertising, online presence in the areas where you do business, how likely are you potential customers to use it? Here is a podcast in which I break down the main things to look for when you are trying to determine wether to advertise on a particular lawyer directory.

lawyer podcast

1. Price for Listing. From the list presented up on top only Avvo, Justia and Lista Legal offer free listings, while FindLaw, and Martindale are paid. It’s not a good idea to disregard a directory only because it’s not free, if the potential for bringing clients and generating leads is high then the return on investment will pay many times over. Free directories are as valuable as paid ones, depending on your budget it would be a good plan to be listed on all of them. For more details on free legal directories visit our other blog post: Top California Law Firm Directories – Free Listings

2. Reputation. When your Law practice is listed on online directories, this helps your reputation as a professional and if you have stablished reviews it will showcase your experience and past clients stories which will help making the sale for future clients a lot easier. Online directories also have an online reputation called DA (Domain Authority) associated, which is a number that can go from 0 to 100 and the higher the number the higher the reputation of the directory, being listed on directories with a high reputation can help your website with achieving a better ranking on the search engines or how your web guys calls it, SEO. All of the sites listed above have an incredible reputation with thousands of backlinks and web history.

3. Price for Advertising. Most directories go further than just listing your NAT, Name, Address and Telephone Number, they also offer custom advertising packages which are intended to get you more clients at a monthly cost. One of FindLaw’s advertising packages offers to list your profile at the top of the directory on your legal area and in your county, for a price of  $172.50/month at the time of writing this article. The amount of exposure you can get varies greatly depending on whether your type of customers use FindLaw and also what presence this site has on your area where you do business, but you will get incredibly higher results when you pay to be on the top featured spots of the directory. Avvo has its unique advertising package but also offers the possibility to be on the top spots of the directory within your legal area and county. They actually go beyond this and have many other advertising features like selling your services directly through their website and also charging customers for doing a phone consultation. Lista Legal being the newest of the directories listed here has 2 advertising options, once is for being listed on the top of the directory and the other ones is for attorneys looking to hire help for web design, SEO and other online marketing services. To see how their marketing services can help you attract customers visit

4. Online Presence in the areas where you do business. Even the best looking and highest ranked attorney directory could be worthless for your Law Practice if it doesn’t rank well on the internet for your legal areas of practice as well as for the city or state where you live. As an example, if we search for immigration attorneys in San Diego, CA. Sites like Justia, Avvo, and FindLaw show on the front page on Google. This means there is a high chance that the person searching will click on that site and see your listing. If you were only listed on, Martindale, Lista Legal or other law directories the chances are the customers looking for your services on the internet aren’t going to find you because those sites did not show up on the first page of Google with a search for immigration attorneys in San Diego, CA.

5. How likely are your potential customers to use it? Let’s say the same person who was looking for an immigration attorney in San Diego, CA saw that avvo was one of the first results on their phone when they did the search, they could still ignore it if they see a more familiar site. They could also choose not to use it if they open avvo and don’t understand how to navigate the site or how to find your contact information. Most people are very impatient when it comes to using a website and they move on from one website to another until they find one with which they identify. Let’s say for example the same person who was doing the search is a Spanish speaking person, they would type “abogado de inmigracion” and saw Lista Legal in the results they will identify with an attorney directory in Spanish that has a mission to connect the latino community in need of legal services with an attorney who understands them. They would feel in tune with the message of the website and would appreciate the appeal of being able to continue their search in Spanish.

Reach more clients using legal directories:

When you search for a trustworthy way to conduct a legal consultation or a case evaluation with an attorney, the ultimate goal is to be satisfied with the service. The work you put into searching a lawyers area of legal expertise, reading reviews, and comparing prices is all about you trying to assure yourself that you will have a good experience working with that attorney. You are relying on them and you want to feel good about the advice or service you receive.

The legal directories listed here all offer a convenient way for visitors to find an attorney nearby and read about their profile and experience. By using any of those sites you could search for bankruptcy attorneys, immigration attorneys, family lax, tax law, real estate law or pretty much any legal area you can imagine. Some directories will be more niche specific and only list lawyers who practice that specific area of law, we will be talking about those next.

Some people may prefer to conduct their search by other means like a newspaper, magazine, printed ads or a friend’s referral. We will look into some of those forms of advertising in this article.

Niche specific attorney directories

Why would you want to use a niche specific directory rather than the ones mentioned above?

A person who is looking online for a family lawyer or a bankruptcy lawyer may choose to conduct the search on a Family Law directory, or a Bankruptcy Directory for example, refining the search to attorneys that only practice in that legal area, see examples below: 


The advantage for the users is that they save time on their research, they don’t care about the other legal areas and visiting a directory that only lists the kinds of attorneys they need is convenient.

This also gives an advantage for the attorneys that are creating their profile on those sites because they are so niche specific that they should have a very good ranking for the legal area they feature.  Often times this directories also come with lots of free legal information in the form of blogs and faqs that can help people understand how to resolve their legal matters.


Legal directories in Spanish:

New lawyer directories are filling the gap for the Spanish speaking population in the United States.

It used to be that businesses may have one single resources page in Spanish somewhere inside their English website, but now businesses are creating full versions of their website in Spanish.

Lawyers are following suit and working with sites like,  Abogado and Abogados para Latinos. These are all great resources and drive a lots of customers to meet with a Spanish speaking attorney every day.

I helped an Immigration lawyer in San Diego friend of mine to develop and optimize both his English and Spanish websites. His marketing team worked on publishing content and interesting resources on both sites and also measured the traffic and customer engagement. After 5 months of tracking we concluded that for his Immigration practice the customer engagement and return on investment was up to 70% higher in the Spanish website when compared to the English website.

Are your customers mainly Hispanic? If that’s the case consider the following:

  • Translate your legal resources to Spanish and publish them in your website  blog or use another legal blogging platform like LexBlog
  • Create a Spanish version of your website
  • Get listed on legal directories in Spanish


CA State Bar approved lawyer referral services or a directory?

Something else that takes the form of a directory but often isn’t are the so called Lawyer Referral Services. The reason why I say sometimes they are not a directory is because they will mask themselves as a directory to gather your information.  They say they will give you a list of attorneys that can help but usually they just gather your information and pass it on to the lawyers that hired them regardless of whether they are the best fit for you. This doesn’t provide an option to do research or get a feeling for the lawyers because they are not publicly listed on the website.

One good reason to use the Lawyer Referral Service is because their websites are approved by legal institutions and therefore have to abide by certain laws regarding how to refer an attorney and how to conduct their business. 

Some examples of CA State Bar Approved Lawyer Referral Services are:

  • Legal Match
  • Attorney Search Network

Print directories

Last but not least we will look into printed attorney directories, the printed directories are not so common at the present time, I’m not saying that nobody uses them, its just that they are hard to find, at least in the area where I live in California. The last printed directory I had on my hands was the San Diego Attorney Directory 49th Edition published by The Daily Transcript, a San Diego business magazine.

I conducted a survey for 3 months with the help of three different Law Firms in the areas of Bankruptcy Law, Family Law and Immigration Law. We asked every single person who called, filled out the intake form on the website or walked in the office how is it that they learned of the Law Firm and not even one mentioned a printed directory. A few cases did see a newspaper or a magazine ad but the bulk of clients were from online traffic and referrals.

I’m not going to list the companies that publish printed attorney directories but there are several that do in different areas, a quick google search for printed legal directory in my (city name) will probably direct you to a site where you can order it.

Law Firm directories for local SEO ranking

Yes, you should. I think it should be clear by now that they can add value to your website and to you as a professional. Wether you choose to have your listing for free or pay extra to advertise on the top directory spots for any of the extra features, consider utilizing these directories when you are meeting with your marketing team and laying out a strategy to drive customers and build popularity on the internet.

Not all directories are created equal or bring the same SEO value to your website. There are two things that you want to get from a legal directory that will bring more SEO juice:

  • Get a link back to your website
  • Make sure that the link is Do Follow as opposed to nofollow since the later doesn’t improve your ranking.

A directory with a higher Domain Ranking (DR) which is a number from 0 to 100, will bring a greater value to your website and your SEO will improve. A really easy way to check the ranking for a particular directory is to use a tool like ahref.

On the following image you can see the DR 49 is the number inside the orange circle.

legal directory ranking

Is It enough to just pay to be listed on one of these directories?  Maybe, but I advise you to have a much broader marketing plan to compete effectively in the modern world.