Winner: Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton
Cleary Gottlieb deserves honorable mention for this year's "Top Site" competition. They have done an excellent job with ten foreign languages on their website - the most of any U.S. law firm we reviewed (German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean).
Their Korean website is particularly noteworthy since most firms overlook this Asian economic powerhouse. Korea is home to such dynamic global firms as Samsung, Hyundai, and Daewoo and is now the seventh largest trading partner of the U.S.. South Korea also has the world's highest broadband Internet penetration, so it is an ideal candidate for this sophisticated site. We believe this high-quality Korean website will definitely have a positive impact when it comes to marketing to this underserved, rapidly growing, Internet savvy country.
Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton earned strong reviews as the top Korean language website for its excellent navigation and expertly written Korean content. They do not take the approach of walling off its languages into separate little mini-sites, but integrates the Korean language navigation with its English navigation so that the Korean reader who has some English knowledge, has full access to all the content on this huge site.
One minor drawback is that the links to all the languages are somewhat difficult to find and partially hidden in a drop down menu. Another potential issue for some viewers is that the site "locks" you into a particular language once you have entered it. Sticking to your chosen language is good unless you happen to end up on page with a language you don't know. When conducting our overall navigation rankings, one of our judges unable to read Hangul, the Korean alphabet, could not find the "choose language" text and was prevented from switching to another language. This could also happen to a speaker of any language if they happen to inadvertently end up on the "wrong" language page.
Cleary, Gottlieb is the leader in terms of the largest number of foreign languages offered by any U.S. law firm website we reviewed. They scored well among judges in almost every category and will definitely be a strong contender for the 2006 "Global Law Firm Awards - Top Site."