If you could eavesdrop on a conversation that’s about you, would you? And would you expect all the comments to be good?
With the Chambers & Partners guide to the legal profession now out, firms can opt to pay for a ‘Chambers Unpublished’ report – a report of anonymised comments made or sent to researchers about the firm.
Opinion on this divides roughly between those who say, ‘well, what did you expect?’ and others who argue, ‘you’re best off knowing’.
Let’s say you pay for the report. You’ve worked your socks off all year, you sit down with a cup of tea, thumb through it and you’re properly upset by what you read.
What’s the right response? Throwing a couple of directories through the windows of the people you’re sure said these things?
Exit this vale of reputational tears and never engage with comms and business development again?
I wouldn’t advise such a retreat either, unless you read hurtful criticisms and realise, in fact, they had you down to a T.
Instead, think of a celebrated actor who has had a bad review. Can their career take it?
Well, yes – if there is enough of the good stuff out there. The directories researchers don’t believe everything they’re told – they know the agenda rivals have in running each other down.
You need to make sure that other mentions of you out there contest, rather than confirm, the tittle-tattle from competitors.
If you’ve won awards, if you are doing good pro-bono work, if your lawyers are turned to for comment when legal stories break, if they write with authority… then any criticism will matter less. The poison muttered by competitors will be seen for what it is.
For next year’s submission, get substance and facts in there that back up the way you deserve to be seen.
And one last thought.
If negative comments seemed to come from clients or ex-clients, make sure you’re routinely asking clients how you’re doing, and responding to feedback. There’s a danger that the directory researcher was the first person to ask them how you did on a matter.
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