Insight

Best Lawyers: A Technology Powerhouse in the Legal Industry

Best Lawyers, a legal publishing company, is paving the way in the industry as a tech-first giant.

Best Lawyers is a Tech-First Titan
JE

John Ettorre

August 19, 2021 05:55 AM

It’s become almost routine for companies to claim to be tech-first organizations. But at Best Lawyers, a publishing and research organization, we don’t merely make that claim. Instead, we simply point to the fact that our CEO is a software engineer.

But it wasn’t always that way.

It all began for us back in pre-digital 1983, when we published our first book, The Best Lawyers in America®, a traditional hard-bound listing of thousands of lawyers in the United States who had been judged by their peers to be among the best in their profession.

“The initial edition was literally written by hand, from information captured through phone calls,” says Senior Research Manager Kristen Greer. Eventually her predecessors in the research department upgraded to index cards. By the time she joined the company 13 years ago, the research system had been further upgraded, using emails and spreadsheets to gather nominations and votes, but it was still a manual process.

Over the succeeding decades, our reputation for producing the best peer-reviewed research in the legal profession continued to blossom. That research also created a foundation for related editorial coverage of the industry, journalism that would shine a spotlight on the best in our profession and help lawyers think more deeply about their work.

Meteoric Rise of a CEO

But as the digital age took hold, it became clear that the real opportunities for growth were in the digital transformation of our business.

Which is where Phillip Greer entered the picture.

Our current CEO’s 16-year journey with Best Lawyers closely follows the contours of our progression from an analogue to a predominately digital organization. Phillip joined the company in 2005 as a software engineer, tasked with converting many of the processes that we were then performing in analogue fashion—such as phone/mail-in/fax balloting—and digitizing them.

“I thought this would be just a steppingstone in my software career, but it was such a cool opportunity, helping a giant industry recognize that there was a major shift on the horizon, and we could be at the forefront of it,” Phillip recalls. “The owners at the time were quite entrepreneurial and let me keep building the systems.”

He built a custom content management system and then an entirely new website that could push us into the next few years. “We took our balloting system and digitized it, so lawyers could have the option beginning in 2006 to do online balloting,” he says.

Lawyers can now vote for their peers on their smartphones, at any time of day from anywhere around the world. These digital tools “have opened a whole new world for us,” says Kristen. “It has made the process less disruptive for lawyers. This way we can respect the billable hours that our clients live under.”

Phillip (who is not related to Kristen) went from Lead Software Engineer to Director of IT. He later became Chief Operating Officer, President and now CEO.

With Phillip’s digital foundation now woven through our DNA, a steady stream of upgrades and innovations have continued under our current IT director, Larry Meadows. Best Lawyers now electronically sends out about a million ballots each year and our systems currently house about 15 million data points on the industry, which provides a vast storehouse of business intelligence on the legal sector.

Now, Phillip says proudly, “we are a software company that is here to assist the research division.”

Accelerating the Drive Toward Digital

This year, we are transitioning from The Best Lawyers in America book to offer representation of all listed lawyers in our custom publications and partnerships with newspapers and magazines across the country. Today, we produce more than 15 print magazines a year, including 11 regional publications in North America, as well as two business editions in print. Our global business edition includes listings from approximately three dozen countries. We partner with around 20 newspapers and magazines in the United States to bring even more coverage of our lists to readers.

At the same time, as part of our accelerating transition to digital platforms, we currently produce five digital editions—one for Australia, another covering the American Midwest, and three that focus on particular practice areas that include lawyer listings from across the U.S. Crucially, all our print articles are also available free of charge online, giving consumers greater access than ever to our carefully peer-reviewed listing of the best lawyers. It also gives advertisers far greater exposure to their message.

In recent years, Larry Meadows has focused on adding additional best practices to our software stack, converting it almost entirely to the cloud, better leveraging business intelligence and making the technology more scalable so as to better facilitate our continued growth. Says Larry: “We’re building our systems to handle the most traffic possible and to ensure that our digital sites are lightning fast.”

Phillip Greer says, “It’s been exciting to see how so many traditionally print-centric firms are finally making the switch to digital, and we’re helping them with their marketing, their web presence, search engine optimization and social media. We can do promotional campaigns for them through Facebook, LinkedIn and the Chicago Tribune network.” But he also notes that some senior attorneys continue to prefer print as their primary marketing vehicle.

“We tell them, ‘We know your marketing has traditionally been print, and for the lawyers who are still not comfortable moving from print to digital, we’ll still support them. We’ll be ready when they’re ready.’ The goal is always, what’s the end goal for you and your firm, what’s the best marketing vehicle? Whatever works best for you is what we will help provide.”

John Ettorre is an Emmy-award-winning writer, based in Cleveland. His work has appeared in more than 100 publications, including the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor.

Headline Image: iStock/Dean Mitchell

Related Articles

How Peer Review Powers Industry Referrals


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers combines the trust of industry referrals with state-of-the-art technology to help clients find the right lawyer.

Four people searching in their smartphone with the Best Lawyers methodology wheel over top

Big Rig, Big Responsibility


by Theodore Babbitt

The nation’s highways are more clogged than ever with 40-ton 18-wheelers that don’t take safety seriously enough. This must change—and it’s up to both state governments and private industry to make it happen.

Trucking Safety in Florida

Georgia Laws Taking Effect in 2022


by Gregory Sirico

Three new pieces of Georgia legislation aim to improve medical bill transparency, lower the sales tax on vehicles and enact further safeguards to protect children in foster care.

New Georgia Laws Enacted in 2022

Cost to Boss


by Gregory Sirico

New Colorado legislation aims to stop employers from dodging direct negligence claims.

Employers Dodge Direct Negligence Claims

South Florida "Lawyer of the Year"


by Best Lawyers

Jerry Hamilton is honored as 2022 "Lawyer of the Year" in Admiralty and Maritime Law for Miami.

South Florida "Lawyer of the Year"

Checks and Balances


by Michael Sullivan

Ensuring probity and above-board behaviour in both the public and private sector is always important—and that importance can be particularly stark during a major crisis like the pandemic. An overview of a year’s worth of commissions and inquiries.

Australian Commission Governance Structure

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the Puerto Rico


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms.

2022 Best Lawyers® in the Puerto Rico

The Inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada


by Justin Smulison

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada's inaugural edition is here. We talk with Kristen Greer, Best Lawyers Senior Research Manager, on the prestige of these awards.

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada 2022

Canadian Women in the Legal Profession: From Non-‘Persons’ to Chief Justices


by Sara Collin

We take an in-depth look at the challenges and optimistic future of women in the Canadian legal sector.

Canadian Women in the Legal Profession

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Best Lawyers 40th Anniversary: Our past. Our today. Our future.


by Rachel Shrewsbury

Best Lawyers is celebrating its 40th year as the original, trusted source for legal referrals.

Best Lawyers Celebrates 40 Years

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch – The Future of Legal Talent Looks Bright


by Justin Smulison

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch is launching its second edition in the United States, and after talking with both a company leader and esteemed lawyers on the list, the importance of this prestigious list is evident.

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America 2022

The Great Debate Between Agriculture, Mining and Environment


by Rebecca Hoare

Can we really have it all?  The pursuit of the harmonious intersection of Australia’s agricultural and resources industries and the environment.

Australia Agriculture, Mining & Environment

Tales From the Crypto


by Gregory Sirico

The economic turmoil of COVID-19 has given cryptocurrency its moment in the spotlight. But are we, and more importantly our banks, ready for it?

Cryptocurrency on the Rise During COVID-19

Summer Voting Season Is Here!


by Best Lawyers

Summer 2021 voting is open to all lawyers listed in Best Lawyers in Chile, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa and Spain.

How To Vote On Your Best Lawyers Ballot

Morrison & Foerster Attorney Randy Bullard’s LGBTI Advocacy


by Greg Sirico

Randy Bullard, a Best Lawyers® listed attorney practicing at Morrison & Foerster, is an LGBTQI advocate and pioneer for change around the world.

Morrison & Foerster Attorney Randy Bullard's

Trending Articles

The Real Camille: An Interview with Johnny Depp’s Lawyer Camille Vasquez


by Rebecca Blackwell

Camille Vasquez, a young lawyer at Brown Rudnick, sat down with Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer to talk about her distinguished career, recently being named partner and what comes next for her.

Camille Vasquez in office

Announcing The Best Lawyers in The United Kingdom™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from the United Kingdom.

The Best Lawyers in The United Kingdom 2023

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: The Best Lawyers Honorees Behind the Litigation


by Gregory Sirico

Best Lawyers takes a look at the recognized legal talent representing Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in their ongoing defamation trial.

Lawyers for Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Announcing The Best Lawyers in France™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from France.

Blue, white and red strips

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Germany™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Germany.

Black, red and yellow stripes

Education by Trial: Cultivating Legal Expertise in the Courtroom


by Margo Pierce

The intricacies of complex lawsuits require extensive knowledge of the legal precedent. But they also demand a high level of skill in every discipline needed to succeed at trial, such as analyzing technical reports and deposing expert witnesses.

Cultivating Legal Expertise in the Courtroom

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Belgium™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Belgium.

Black, yellow and red stripes

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in France


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms, including our inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recipients.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in France

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect


by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

We Are Women, We Are Fearless


by Deborah S. Chang and Justin Smulison

Athea Trial Lawyers is a female owned and operated law firm specializing in civil litigation, catastrophic energy, wrongful death and product liability.

Athea Trial Law Female Leadership and Success

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Germany


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms, including our inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recipients.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Germany

U.K. Introduces Revisions to Right-to-Work Scheme and Immigration Rules


by Gregory Sirico

Right-to-Work Scheme and Immigration Rules in

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some


by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?

Destiny Fulfilled


by Sara Collin

Was Angela Reddock-Wright destined to become a lawyer? It sure seems that way. Yet her path was circuitous. This accomplished employment attorney, turned mediator, arbitrator and ADR specialist nonpareil discusses her career, the role of attorneys in society, the new world of post-pandemic work and why new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson represents the future.

Interview with Lawyer Angela Reddock-Wright

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom


by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?