Lawyer Domain Names
We routinely advise lawyers on domain name selection. My boilerplate recommendations are:
- Think about your email address first and your website second;
- Don’t be a slave to search engine optimization (SEO);
- Don’t register dozens of domain names if you only need one; and
- Choose something distinguishable from your competitors.
There are, however, occasions when new questions emerge. The introduction of .Lawyer and .Attorney generic top-level domains (gTLDs) presents just such an opportunity.
.Lawyer Relevant Dates
The .Lawyer gTLD is being administered by a company named Donuts, the firm that won ICANN‘s auction. What a delicious result. Individual registrars accredited by Donuts may sell .lawyer domains. Because of the gold-rush potential of any new gTLD, the introduction of the .Lawyer and .Attorney gTLDs will occur over several phases:
- Sunrise Period (Closes September 27, 2014). Open to registered trademark holders.
- Land Rush Period (October 1st to October 7th). A pre-order process where your application for a domain will be placed into a registrar’s queue. You won’t know if you are successful until October 8th.
- General Availability (October 8th, 2014). Anyone meeting the requirements described below can register a domain name.
The costs of .lawyer domains are set by the registrar with registrations renewed on an annual basis. Registrars are currently offering pricing as follows:
- Sunrise: $188.99 CAD.
- Landrush pricing works on a daily sliding scale because of the nature of a queueing process (first dibs). The 1st of October costs $11,980.99 while the 7th goes down to $150.99.
- General annual registration will cost $35.99 CAD.
You can pre-purchase multiple years at once.
Both .Lawyer and .Attorney are “highly regulated domains.” This means that there are pre-conditions to registration. In particular, the registrant will need to certify [according to Bloomberg]:
By registering a [.ATTORNEY or .LAWYER] name, I certify that:
- In case I collect and maintain sensitive health and/financial information data, I will implement reasonable and appropriate security measures commensurate with the offerings of those services, as defined by applicable law.
- I have any necessary authorizations, charters, licenses and/or other related credentials for participating in the sector, and that I will report any material changes to the validity of the Registrant’s authorizations, charters, licenses and/or other related credentials.
- I will provide contact details for the relevant regulatory body, if any, once the domain name has been registered to [domain registrar].
In other words, you need to be a lawyer or law firm to register. While this should cut down on speculative cyber-squatting, there are over 1.2 million lawyers in the US alone. Hardly a limited audience.
Should You Register .Lawyer Domains?
Probably not. It is long for a gTLD, offers marginal SEO value if you already own a domain, and is just one more thing to administer. I would not recommend going out and buying a .lawyer for every practising lawyer at your firm (e.g. jeremyhessinglewis.lawyer). I might also be reluctant to change domain names if I had been using one for a while. The operational risks of changing domains presents a significant challenge from both IT and marketing perspectives. I have seen this go wrong many times over the years.
The real opportunity is for a) lawyers looking to setup a new practice where SEO is important (e.g. vancouver.lawyer) or b) existing firms that want to purchase a unique domain for use in campaigns (e.g. a radio ad that says “For more information visit canada.immigration.lawyer”).
In terms of SEO value, just remember that your domain name is only one of many factors. See Google’s Matt Cutts speak to this specific question. Do not get greedy or speculative by purchasing large numbers of domains for which you don’t have a plan. For Vancouver small business lawyers, your email address is likely more important than SEO. Also, be very skeptical of anyone trying to resell a domain that they claim is very valuable. This isn’t 1999.
Feel free to contact us if you want a second opinion. Otherwise, let the sale begin.