Directories season continues to hot up with the announcement today that the research schedule and submission deadlines for Chambers UK 2019 have been released:
Following closely on the heels of the latest Legal 500 rankings and with the keenly anticipated Chambers 2018 rankings due in early November, firms across the country are gearing up, or are already in full swing preparing their next round of submissions.
We have been inundated with requests for our white paper ‘Legal directories: are they still relevant?’, which was released at the IBA conference in Sydney on 11 October.
The topic provokes ongoing debate but from the feedback we continue to receive, one thing is clear: firms and chambers sets recognise the value in the directories. In our research 81 per cent of law firms said they use their rankings when making pitches for work and 60 per cent of GCs said they consult legal directories before appointing a law firm.
While submissions are a huge drain on resources, whether you’re a boutique or magic-circle firm, favourable rankings help firms to stand out in the crowded legal market.
As expected, the first deadline for in-house directories teams to worry about is 13 December, for the initial round of Chambers UK submissions. Our directories team has some best-practice tips to help avoid the last-minute stress and panic and ensure that firms get the most from their directories ‘campaign’.
Be organised and allocate responsibility
There is a lot to coordinate – practice heads and lawyers, support teams, referees and document production over multiple practice areas and working to staggered submission deadlines. Producing well-researched, strategic and concisely written submissions requires organisation and that needs to start now.
Assign an owner to each practice area and where a firm handles multiple submissions, make sure someone in a senior BD or marketing role has overall responsibility and sight of the entire process. Timetable each stage for each submission and stick to it. Which leads on to…
Don’t rely on deadline extensions
Respect the deadlines set by the directories. They run pretty lean research teams and there is a limit to the time they will spend on each submission. Don’t lessen your chances of the ranking you desire by cutting your research time short. If you start now and manage the process, you can submit on time.
Approach it like a tender
Remember that researchers have to wade through mountains of submissions. Like a tender, you have to stand out. This means understanding what your target audience (the researchers/editors) is looking for and delivering a strategically planned, clearly evidenced proposition to secure the ranking you think you deserve.
Look at the current rankings, consider what your team has done in the year being reported on, be objective about where you sit in the market and identify your key differentiators and give the researchers the evidence to back them up. There is no point in going for band 1 if you can’t make a case for why and evidence it.
Also like a tender, exercise your best writing skills. Once you have identified your key differentiators and the evidence to back them up, present the information clearly leaving researchers in no doubt that your team belongs in your chosen band.
Don’t leave the referees until last. Make sure you have a well thought through list of clients and other professionals in the sector. They are critical. While this is another topic in itself, choose referees who have worked with you within the last year, who will give evidence of your key differentiators and who will speak to the key individuals put forward in the submission. And also importantly, choose referees who will answer the researchers’ emails.
If you’d like any support with your directories submissions, whether you’re already ranked or looking to be, our expert team can help.
Request a copy of our white paper and UK directories guide
Please email email@example.com to obtain a copy of the white paper Legal Directories: Are they still relevant?
Request a copy of our UK directories guide by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
MD Communications are experts at boosting the reputation of law firms and suppliers to the legal sector- whether that’s enhancing your legal directory submissions, raising your profile in the media, or improving your social media presence.
Melissa Davis is the managing director of MD Communications, the international legal PR agency. She is also chair of the IBA Law Firm Management Committee Business Development Working Group and a member of the ABA Transnational Legal Practice Committee.
MD Communications is on Twitter @mdcomms
Sign up for our newsletter
Our newsletter is full of useful tips and advice for law firms and suppliers to the legal sector who want to raise their profile.