Moving to a .LAW Domain: Insights into the Domain Name Change Process

MarkMonitor continually seeks to provide its corporate clients relevant and timely services that can help them manage their domain name portfolios. An important example of this is facilitating the submission of domain disputes, for which we have collaborated with The GigaLaw Firm (hereafter, GigaLaw) for the past decade. GigaLaw founder Doug Isenberg recently announced an update of the firm’s primary web presence from a legacy Top Level Domain (TLD), .COM, to a new generic TLD, .LAW. You may already be familiar with GigaLaw from past MarkMonitor events where Doug has been a guest speaker and panelist. The new domain, https://GIGA.LAW/, is an extension of the GigaLaw brand as it utilizes the TLD to complete the brand name within the domain name – a concept called ‘spanning the dot‘ or a ‘domain name hack.’ The former domain, https://GIGALAW.COM/, has been in use since 2000 and now re-directs to the GIGA.LAW domain.

Learn why Doug decided to migrate to a new gTLD in this brief Q&A:

Q: After 17 years with a fairly short and memorable .COM domain, why update to a .LAW domain?

A: The answers are simple:

  • .LAW makes sense for GigaLaw. Not only is .LAW relevant, but it also helps describe the content of the website associated with the GIGA.LAW domain name.
  • The GIGA.LAW domain name is short. The entire domain name is now only eight characters (including the dot itself), down from 11. In the world of domain names, shorter is sweeter.
  • .LAW domain names are restricted. That is, only applicants that meet certain criteria – namely, legal professionals” – are eligible to register .LAW domain names. Because the GigaLaw website is the home of my legal practice’s online presence the .LAW gTLD is entirely appropriate and perhaps adds a degree of credibility or authenticity to the domain name.

Q: What preparations are you glad you did before the domain name change?

A: In addition to changing domain names I also implemented a new website design and switched from WordPress to Squarespace all at the same time! So I had a lot of moving pieces and had to plan accordingly. I’m glad I kept the same website structure for the most part despite all of these changes. That helped a lot especially as I created redirects from the old URLs to the new ones. Did the transition go perfectly? No but it went very well. Fortunately I decided to make myself fully available during the transition working with my developer/designer to quickly identify and fix minor issues that we saw. Also I made sure to switch to a new email address using the new domain name at the same time that I launched the new site. This wasn’t necessary but I saw it as an important part of consistent branding (something to which I am finely attuned given that I help my clients protect their brands through the legal system all the time).

Q: What do you know now that you wish you knew before updating the domain name?

A: I have a lot of content on my GigaLaw site (a significant amount of which is related to the “GigaLaw Daily News” posts that I provide every day tracking Internet legal issues) so it was important to me that all of the content transition to the new site. Although I knew about the importance of creating redirects for these thousands of URLs I wish I had known more about the technical process of how to implement them. I created some of my own problems and pressure by changing the website design and back-end at the same time as launching the new domain name so perhaps I should have taken it in stages just to make the process a little less stressful. But as I wrote in a blog post about the transition waiting for the perfect time only means you will wait forever. So at the end of the day I’m glad I just jumped in and did it.

Q: We ran a Google search on ‘GigaLaw’ when we learned of the new domain name and GIGA.LAW was the first result. Google has said their “systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs.” Were you concerned that the domain name change would influence the current search engine rank?

A: Although I’ve had an online presence for my “GigaLaw” brand since 2000 I was not very concerned about a potential impact on search engines by switching domain names. That’s partly because I (hopefully) did a lot of the right things by implementing the change such as creating appropriate redirects. But it’s also because of the nature of my website which is informational rather than transactional. In other words I am not selling any products or services on my website so I don’t expect there to be any reduction in revenue for my law firm’s practice even if there is a reduction in traffic for my law firm’s website. In any event it’s reassuring to know that searches for “GigaLaw” and “Doug Isenberg” and other relevant terms continue to lead Internet visitors to my GigaLaw website.

We expect to see increased adoption of new gTLDs across many industries as brands strive to stand out among their peers with short and memorable domains. If we have piqued your interest about domain disputes please contact us to receive more information about this important tool in your brand protection toolbox.

About GigaLaw: The GigaLaw Firm’s founder Doug Isenberg is one of the most prolific and accomplished domain name attorneys in the world having practiced in this area of the law for more than 20 years. The World Trademark Review has said that Doug is “a whiz on all things to do with Internet law and domain names.” Doug’s GigaLaw blog has been recognized by the ABA Journal as one of the top 100 best blogs for a legal audience and received a first-place award for “legal tech” in The Expert Institute’s “Best Legal Blog” contest.