Having worked both in Chambers and in-house, and so seen both sides of the table, so to speak, I do think they matter: I think they can be a useful differentiator and third party validation. I think it's very unlikely they will be the sole deciding factor, (although I have heard clients, and referring law firms, say that if they are looking for law firms in a jurisdiction they are unfamiliar with, they use rankings to select a number of firms to consider for the work). In an ever more competitor market, when everyone is selling themselves on value, expertise and commerciality, having an independent third party attesting to those qualities in your firm can be very useful indeed.
As a former Chambers employee I might be a bit biased but there is a great post by an English IP lawyer here - worth checking out.
Yes, I do think ratings matter. We have clients who came to us via Chambers and I'm sure corporate clients (eg in house counsel) probably rely heavily on such guides.
In my view ratings will become increasingly important as potential clients seek third party validation (which is what ratings are) online. Consider the rise of Trip Advisor.com for the leisure industry: the same thing will happen in legal services. Solicitor.info is one, smallish site, that is trying to do this. It probably needs a much bigger organisation behind it though to gain a serious profile.
I think third party validation is the most important influencer for the bulk of clients, even above price , although that too is an important part of the equation and more so in transactional work or simple wills.
Legal 500 and Chambers are really only read and paid attention to by other lawyers.
Since lawyers write the entries, not the clients, they are not regarded as a good judge of capability, I know of a few firms who are ranked highly in a particular field, but whose clients think very little of them.
As a kitemark they are fine, they show that a firm is respected, but the ranking don't really matter to clients.
Hi ..sadly I feel that increasingly these ratings are of real importance.
The problem with them is the secrecy of the methods that they employ when determining the ratings and the unfairness of them
I sttrongly feel that big wealthy firms have more influence , decide which firms can be ranked within certain catergories and essentially "sew the whole thing up"..thats certainly the case within Fraud and crime rankings.
Hi Nev Smyrk
Maybe in the commercial world some companies will look to the Legal 500, but I doubt most do.
Most companies work on word of mouth or recommendations from people they know, sometimes through tenders (where they'll be told all about Legal500 and Chambers ranks, and most, I believe, will ask what that means exactly).
Most of my client's couldn't tell you what Legal 500 and Chambers is, let alone my rank in it.