New Domains: Hype or Hyper-Critical?

September 30, 2014 Alyson Fieldman

We’re all familiar with URLs that end in .com, .net, .org and .edu. What about these new generic top-level domains (gLTDs) that we’re hearing about? Should you register your law firm’s name at .lawyer and .attorney? A handful of our clients have reached out this week to ask us our thoughts on this topic. Register.com apparently sent an email indicating that pre-registration is open now and will close by October 8th. We thought you might have a question on how to proceed, too, so here’s our recommendation (Note: Our references and examples are predominately law-focused because most of our clients who have reached out are law firms. However, this is very much relevant across multiple industries!).

For smaller firms and solo practitioners, registering yourself or your firm using .lawyer or .attorney seems to make sense. In this case, you want to clearly emphasize that your business is a law firm. For example, BobSmith.lawyer is a good use of the domain.

However, for larger firms—such as those within the NLJ 250 who spend considerable effort building brand equity—to use .lawyer or .attorney could be in conflict with the marketing objective of building a holistic firm brand presence. It’s worth taking the time to think about how your firm presents itself and whether .attorney or .lawyer sends the right message. Further, the word “attorney” has US-centric leanings that may not work for more global firms.

The strongest case for purchasing one of these new domains is simply to avoid having others buy it and use it for dubious or malicious purposes. Depending on your firm’s appetite to control your firm’s trademarked name, it may be a minimal investment now that could save your firm headaches later. Some firms actively own URLs that include various misspelled versions of the firm name, .net, .biz and unique country-specific URLs where they do business. If this is your firm’s policy, you should consider scooping up these new domains. A word to the wise: I’ve seen pricing range from $59 to $799, so be sure to shop around.

Before making any decision, realize that just like all new things “internet,” initially, there may be a perception that these are fake or inauthentic. We suspect that this perception will fade over time as more and more new domains are adopted. Some of our clients are taking a “wait and see” approach.

Ultimately, your URL strategy needs to match-up with your firm and marketing objectives. Know that if you do choose to pre-register your firm’s .attorney or .lawyer URL, your account team can help you set up a redirect from your new URL to your .com to avoid issues or confusion for website visitors.

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Alyson Fieldman Managing Director, Client Services

At the time of publishing, Alyson was Managing Director, Client Services.

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