Chambers and Legal500 directory submissions
Lawyers up and down the UK will be pouring over their rankings. Whether it’s gloating at the quotes describing them as “the best in the business”, or cursing that the not-too-distant legal rival is above them in the legal tables – emotions will be running high.
Sound familiar? Well guess what? The whole process starts all over again and legal marketers and lawyers alike will be groaning at the sheer amount of material they need to pull together before the Christmas break. Now doesn’t that sound fun!?!
Having worked in legal marketing teams and provided marketing advice to law firms throughout the UK, I’ve handled my fair share of directory submissions (452 submissions at last count) and believe me they are hard work.
Getting the balance right between quality and quantity is a fine art. Usually the submissions take the form of a three stage process – the submission itself, the client references and the interview with the researcher.
But there are some simple steps to take to ensure that lawyers make the most of their submissions and legal marketers give the directories researchers just what they want:
Keep it simple – The researchers want a snapshot of how you are a leading lawyer and are “best placed to assist”. Keep submissions short, relevant and factual. interviews will be the chance to elaborate.
Give them the goods – Researchers want legally interesting, sophisticated, ground breaking cases not a list of every case you have done over the last 12 months! It’s better to give them 5 juicy cases rather 20 run of the mill cases.
Culture Club – Researchers want to get under the skin of the law firm and get a feel of the firms culture, particular in the interviewing stage. For example, how do you work with clients? What is it like to work with/for you?.
Key highlights – Set out in the key highlights section what it is that sets your work apart from the competition? Why is it a key matter? Why is the firm best placed to handle it (you can be subjective here)? What is the current status of the work? Because if you don’t blow your own trumpet, no-one else will!
Dancing partners – Name who was on the other side of a particular case – a demonstration of who you are regularly coming up against can be a compelling argument if you are trying to get higher in the rankings. Likewise if you list new clients say which law firm you won them from.
References available upon request – Never under estimate how much emphasis the researchers place on client reference. They want the client references tied to the work highlights. They want to talk to the clients who know about the market, who know the entire team. They want to balance old referees with new ones. The more sophisticated the client the better! They need to be able to speak coherently about the work you do. They want clients to say “the firm is great because…” and “we use them in preference to x because…”
Value for money is a key – Researchers will ask clients if they feel their lawyers are worth what they charge.
Honesty is the best policy – You have to be frank about losses – whether it’s a loss on a case or losing a particular member of the team. The researchers do understand that these things happen and just want to know how your firm responded. This is particularly in the case of departures from the team.
Keep them updated – After the submission deadlines have passed keep researchers up to date by sending those press releases of key developments … but don’t bombard them!
Meet that deadline – the directories will be strict on deadlines. If you don’t meet them, don’t expect to be looked on favourably. There is no excuse.
Prepare for the interviews – The face-to-face interview with the researcher really is your chance to sell the firm. You may wish to prepare some short key messages in an agenda document to leave with the researcher to summarise the firm or team. This will not only be helpful to the researcher, but will enable you highlight key achievements intended to persuade your case.
Whatever you do in the run up to Christmas, don’t treat the submissions as another admin task – this is your chance to shine and really ensure your submissions make a difference.