Bored with the usual top-level domains (TLD)? Got $185,000 burning a hole in your pocket? Maybe sponsoring a .law domain is for you. As reported by Law.com's David Snow:
At its annual meeting in Singapore on June 20, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is expected to approve the final version of its application guidebook for new top-level internet domain names -- an early step in opening up a world of marketing possibilities for URLs way beyond what has come before, from good ol' .com, established in 1985, to the racy .xxx, trotted out this year (see all 22). In the new system, anyone can apply to own nearly anything on the right side of the dot -- whether it's a company (.canon), a geographical area (.newyorkcity), or a community/concept (.law). Nearly anything, that is, up to 63 characters in length.
As suggested by Snow, another route lawyers might go would be to register TLDs for individual lawyers or law firms. This all sounds very interesting. However, I suspect that the overwhelming majority of lawyers out there wouldn't be willing to shell out much for these special domains. You can usually register .com domain through Godaddy for between $7 and $10. Concerned about protecting your brand? You can register several branded domains that may include lawyer and firm names. For example:
Etc, etc, etc.
The other side of this equation is considering how search engines will treat these new TLDs. Will they have equal footing with .coms? Perhaps, due to the high price to entry, they would be given more weigth in terms of authority and credibility.
As for now, this all seems very academic. Even those firms that have $185,000 budgeted for web marketing, are much better served spending that money on a variety of other online initiatives. I simply can't see the value in spending even $1,000, let alone, $185,000 simply to have a branded TLD.