The months of December and January – for most law firm marketers – are marred by the time consuming exercise of cajoling reluctant lawyers into providing up to date information for the submissions for the Legal 500 and Chambers directories.
I remember about 20 years ago organising and attending a meeting where John Pritchard explained to a group of marketers how to get firms ranked in the Legal 500. I learned much more when one of my best friends was the editor a few years later.
More recently (October 2011), I attended an event organised by Kelso PR where Joanne Thomas â€“ Editor of the European edition of Chambers – provided some tips. She stated that the aim of the directories was to ensure that clients were able to make the best choices about the firm’s they used and to ensure that they received the service expected. So perhaps rule one is to consider what information would be most valuable to those very clients when compiling entries!
The key points she talked about were as follows:
How clients use Chambers
- As a secondary source of information
- To “uncover the unknown”
- As a trusted and independent source of information
- To understand the character and personality of the lawyers â€“ the quotes provide context
- As a basis for further Internet research
- To capture trends in the marketplace
- External researchers are used who explore the deals, the local media and who make telephone calls to clients and lawyers
- Their aim is to measure lawyers’ ability in the year ahead to best serve their clients referencing their most recent work
- By discussing their abilities with a client’s existing advisers
- Through third party research with judges, accountants and barristers
- Through in-depth client interviews with experienced researchers
- Each should cover a single practice area
- Client references should be provided promptly – it is the quality rather than the quantity that counts, there should be 10 per practice area
- Work highlights should contain up to 10 examples
- Interesting features or cases should be mentioned – it is particularly helpful if other firms and lawyers involved in the case are mentioned
- They are used as a springboard for other research
- They provide a reference to the commentary – firms should explain why they are best placed to handle the work
- There can be feedback on the guide
There was some discussion about the client references. Firms were urged to ensure that their clients responded to Chambers’ calls. The system ensures that to prevent client fatigue any individual client is not contacted more than twice a year, so it is worth thinking laterally about some references if it is suspected that other firms would have nominated them for their bigger role in a case.
Some concern was expressed that interviews were being replaced by e-surveys, although Joanna stressed that Chambers still relied on telephone conversations.
Submissions will, in future, be online only and the deadlines must be observed. They should be short, relevant and factual: “clean, clear and snappy”. The point was made that as firms put so much effort into preparing submissions that they should be “recycled” as much as possible with information being used on web sites and in client tenders.
Joanne also encouraged firms to contact the researchers to “check in” on whether they had all the information that they needed. She also made it clear that it was not possible for the researchers to meet with all the firms who are ranked every year. She stressed that advertising and editorial were separate and that there should be no correlation between them. A new feature being introduced in the global guide is “foreign experts” which allows lawyers in other jurisdictions to be acknowledged for their work in a particular territory.
You should also take a look at the directories web sites – they both provide extensive step-by-step guides on what to do and by when.
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As always, if there are particular topics you would like me to address in the future, please let me know. You will also find a source of more and up to date information on a broad range of management and marketing issues in the professions by checking out the blog where I also post regular reviews of books that might be helpful.