Banking gTLDs

Despite their slow start, the new legal gTLDs, .’legal’ and .’law’, are full of opportunities

The new gTLDs focus in the legal field started some months ago, full of expectations and promised opportunities for law professionals. Domains like .law, .legal, .lawyer or .attorney were created in order to provide relevant, credible, and targeted TLDs for law firms, attorneys and other related business. However, they appear to have gotten off to a slow start, at least in the opinion of World Trademark Review.

According to a recent research carried out by this news platform, law firms are taking a “tentative approach” to their new gTLD digital space. For their analysis, focused on the “54 law firms that are agents of the Trademark Clearinghouse, acting on the assumption that they are acutely aware of the ongoing gTLD rollout”. They wanted to know the percentage of them that had registered their domain, or a similar one, containing their brand name with any of the newest extensions .LEGAL (that operates as an open LDT) and .LAW. (only licensed lawyers can register).

Surprisingly, only a quarter of the sample studied registered the equivalent of their key domain name in either of the strings. To put this into numbers: a mere 28% of the law firms studied had registered a dot law domain name, while only 24% of them chose the dot legal extension. On the other hand, only 11% of those firms registered both strings.

Why is this surprising?

First of all because of the low number of registrations. .’legal’, that is owned by Donuts, went into general availability in March 2015 and so far has 6,500 registrations. On the other hand, .Law, which is owned by Minds + Machines, went into general availability on the 12th of October and has at this time only over 3,000 registrations. The other two bigger gTLDs, .’lawyer’ and .’attorney’, add up together to a total of 24,500 registrations. Even if the number per se doesn’t look bad for domains that have gone on sale quite recently, we have to consider that there are more than 1.2 million attorneys in the US alone.

Considering that .LEGAL is an open LDT, one would think that law firms would have chosen to secure their name to avoid it being purchased by third parties. If you have a law firm with an established brand, or if you are an attorney with an established name, you need to protect your assets and registering your firm’s name with one of these extensions is a very good investment which should be taken in order to protect yourself and your name.

However, we still think that the .Law registrations, even if there are a little more expensive than .Legal ones, are quite low. As we have seen .Law (and .lawyer and .attorney as well) requires a validation of legal credentials. This will not only create a sense of trust in your online visitors but the other idea behind it is to give a the search engines an additional trust factor (even though it is still very early to look for evidence of this).

In conclusion, what should a law firm or attorney pursue when registering its domain with one of this new gTLDs? First of all security, to protect your digital assets from cybersquatters, but also to build trust with potential customers.  Most of these new suffixes are a great way to signal to clients and colleagues the presence of a serious legal professional behind it.