A Special CEE Legal Matters interview with David Stuckey, the former Executive Editor of CEE Legal Matters and current Director of the online CEELMDirect legal directory.
CEELM: Thank you for speaking with us. It looks like CEELMDirect is really doing well!
Stuckey: Thank you for the opportunity. Yes, we’re really excited about how the CEELMDirect platform is doing. It’s starting to gain real traction as more and more firms and lawyers discover it, explore it, and start making use of it. At this point, the future for CEELMDirect looks really bright, and the growth is starting to snowball.
Plus, I have a personal interest: As I’ve spent much of the past seven or eight months working extensively to make sure firms and partners are aware of the CEELMDirect platform and its benefits, this snowballing effect is making my job easier as well.
CEELM: Actually, let’s take a step back. Remind us what exactly CEELMDirect is, again.
Stuckey: CEELMDirect is sort of a sister company to CEE Legal Matters. CEELMDirect is a unique online directory of every law firm and law firm partner in Central and Eastern Europe – plus those law firms and partners that are based outside the region but work within it. Every firm and partner whose name has ever appeared in CEE Legal Matters has a profile on the platform, on which every CEE Legal Matters article in which that name is mentioned can be found.
Because all profiles are dynamically connected to CEE Legal Matters, each subsequent article in which the firm’s or partner’s name is mentioned is added to the user’s profile. Once users claim editing rights to their profiles – a process that is completely free of charge and which only they (or a designated agent) can perform – the profiles can be supplemented with a photo, geographic information (which allows them to show up on country-specific searches), and linked.
Of course, some firms and some partners haven’t yet appeared on CEE Legal Matters, so no profile exists yet for them. But it’s easy for users to create profiles where none currently exist, and of course, if and when their names do appear on CEE Legal Matters, those articles will appear on the profiles as well.
In addition, for only a basic (and remarkably low) annual price, users can upgrade their profiles and add contact details, bios/descriptions, a second image, and practice information (allowing them to show up in practice-specific searches on the platform). Plus, firms and partners who choose to upgrade their profiles in this manner have their names automatically hyperlinked to their profiles in every CEE Legal Matters article.
CEELM: How does that work?
Stuckey: Actually, just click on any CEE Legal Matters article you want. Odds are the names of one or more of the firms or partners referred to in that article are hyperlinked. If you click on one of those links, you’ll be directed to that firm’s or that partner’s CEELMDirect profile. That means they have upgraded their profiles, and are able to take advantage of CEE Legal Matters’ enormous readership to direct visitors directly to their own profiles (where their photos, bios, and contact details are waiting).
CEELM: Earlier on you mentioned how unique the CEELMDirect platform is. Can you elaborate on that?
Stuckey: It is, really, the first – and, to our knowledge, the only – truly dynamic online legal directory in the world that is intrinsically connected to an online news source, so that content on the profiles is automatically expanded each time that news source reports on the profile’s owner/namesake.
That means every time a firm or partner is identified as having worked on a deal or dispute in the region by CEE Legal Matters, that story appears on the relevant firm’s or partner’s CEELMDirect profile. Each time the firm or partner participates in a CEE Legal Matters interview or appears in an article, that interview or article appears on the relevant profile. And each time the firm or partner publishes an article of legal analysis on CEE Legal Matters, the article appears on that profile.
All taken together, this makes CEELMDirect a wonderful – and, yes, unique – marketing/business development tool.
CEELMDirect: In what way?
Stuckey: (Laughs). Honestly, I feel like if I have to explain to successful lawyers and law firms why it’s useful to provide potential clients and referral partners with valuable information about their experience, skills, capabilities, and track record, along with personal information and contact details, then that’s a pretty big problem. I think it’s pretty clear.
I mean, if people have questions, they can definitely contact me and ask, but at this point, as law firm marketing and business development capabilities are essentially as strong in Central and Eastern Europe as they are anywhere in the world – if not better – I’m confident I don’t have to pound basic business development and content marketing concepts into your readers’ heads.
CEELM: And what’s happening now? Is there anything new we should know about?
Stuckey: There is, actually. First, CEELMDirect is co-hosting next week’s annual Winter Gala with CEE Legal Matters, which this year will be held on November 24 in Belgrade. We’re really excited about it, and we’re planning a couple of fun surprises for attendees as well. That event, as an aside, is one of the most purely entertaining events on each year’s social calendar, with the ever-growing CEELM community getting the opportunity to gather, catch each other up on the previous year, celebrate 12 months of achievements, and … just have a good time. We’re delighted to be part of it – we can’t wait!
CEELM: You said “first.” Anything else?
Stuckey: Well, it’s worth noting that the introductory pricing of CEELMDirect profile upgrades is about to expire. For now, upgrades to partner profiles can be had for only EUR 100 each, and upgrades to firm profiles can be had for only EUR 200. Starting on December 1st, 2022, however, those prices will increase to EUR 200 and EUR 500, respectively. Still a bargain, obviously – but anyone actively planning on arranging for an upgrade who has been putting it off should be aware of that change. Contact me before then if you want to take advantage of the introductory prices!
CEELM: And what about the future? Any changes in store?
Stuckey: Well, other than the pricing change I already mentioned … I should be careful. Yes, we’re working on something we’re really excited about that can make upgrades to profiles even more valuable – but it involves some complex coding, and we’re not sure yet when it will be fully implemented. I don’t want to get people’s hopes up, then disappoint them if we aren’t able to deliver it by a specific deadline, so I’ll keep my mouth shut for now. Suffice it to say, we’re always looking for ways to improve the platform and expand its functionality, and we have high hopes for 2023.
CEELM: Understood. Still, I can see why you’re so excited about the platform. What should firms or partners who want to learn more do?
Stuckey: Well, CEELMDirect was purposefully designed to be user-friendly, so it’s pretty self-explanatory. There is also a FAQ page on the platform with answers to common questions.
CEELM: Got it. Thanks, and … keep up the good work!
Stuckey: That’s the plan! Thank you.