With both this year's Chambers UK and Legal 500 now published, lawyer's offices across the land will be familiar with the heavy thump of directories being thrown across the room in annoyance, as angry lawyers curse the whole process and wonder aloud why the hell their main competitor is in Band 2 and they didn't even get a mention. So with the research period once again underway, how can you try to avoid the same situation next year? Here are some tips...
Be honest with yourself: does the firm/lawyer actually deserve a ranking in this section? It can become habit to send in submissions for every practice area - often for reasons of internal politics - but if a practice has had a quiet year, isn't as strong as its primary competitors or is going through a tough time (perhaps a restructuring or refocusing) it may be worth saving the time and effort of submitting until you realistically have a chance of being included.
Did the firm make any obvious mistakes? Did you send in the submissions late? Sending information in too late in the process to be useful is one of the easiest ways to shoot yourself in the foot, so it's important to adhere to the deadlines. Did you include referees who, if you're honest, you know weren't fantastic, or would be hard to contact? Did you follow the guidelines the directory laid out regarding case numbers, referee numbers, etc?
Ask for feedback: the directories have different policies on this, so you may not get any feedback, but sending a politely worded email to the relevant editor or researcher expressing your disappointment and asking for a reason for your poor results can occasionally yield results – and provided you aren't aggressive, it won't do any harm to ask.
Arrange a meeting: again, this will depend on directory policy, but again it can't hurt to ask: the editor or relevant researcher may be open to a meeting to discuss the practice area, and give feedback.
Ask an expert: OK, this falls squarely into the 'she would say that, wouldn't she?' category - this being what I do, after all - but there are a number of great consultants out there who offer a range of submissions assistance. While having a consultant handle the whole process can be costly - though it can of course save a lot of fee earner time - a relatively inexpensive option is to have one review the relevant submission (or submissions) to give you feedback on how it/they could be improved. (This site's Directories Tune Up Group - of which I am a member, so again, clearly biased! - offers this service as part of membership).
Chambers Confidential: this is a fairly pricey option, I believe, so may better suited to large firm's with bigger marketing/business development budgets (and firms where the directory will have received a decent amount of feedback - there's little point in shelling out for an expensive report to tell you no one said anything about you!) but Chambers now offers this paid service whereby you can get the lowdown on the feedback you received.
Get started NOW for next year! I mentioned the whole deadline thing, right?
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