“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf.

While this may reflect the thoughts of many a BD team, we are in bumper deadline season for legal directory submissions across the globe and time will become a valuable commodity.

From California to Ohio, Brazil to Singapore, thousands of teams will have directory submission deadlines in their sights. Already stretched teams will be either furiously drafting or procrastinating and anticipating the dread of the frenzied sprint to the finish line.

To help you decide how best to use the valuable time that you have, our directories specialists have gathered some tips based on the questions, musings and cries for help we most frequently receive at this time of year.

“We’ve left it too late”

Our directories team have produced submissions in as little as 24 hours, so it’s never too late to just do it. Starting a submission can feel (we imagine) like standing at the foot of the Eiger.

However, what can seem like a lengthy and complex process can be simplified around a series of key messages that, with the right evidence and efficient project management, will produce an effective submission that hasn’t sucked the energy out of everyone involved.

“It takes so long to write a good submission”

You’re not writing a debut novel.  This isn’t going forward for the Booker Prize (top tip: avoid fiction in your submission). Remember that this is not a marketing document, the purpose of the main body is to hit the right notes for a research purpose based on fact and evidence.

Yes, it is in the DNA of every lawyer and their BD teams to produce a best-quality piece of work but agonising over every word and releasing your inner Ernest Hemmingway isn’t the point.

Researchers are likely to turn to the feedback section first to understand the tone of the submission. Make sure your practice overview clearly signposts the ‘pillars’ of the submission. Thereafter, the two most important parts are the referees and work highlights.

“The editors said we got no referee feedback last time, and that was why we got a bad ranking.  There doesn’t seem much point.”

Referees are key, so focus time here. A less than deserved ranking, or poor write-up, particularly for Chambers & Partners, is a sign that your referees have been underwhelming in their response rate. Early in the process, select referees that will back up the key messages in your submission and let them know what will be involved (it won’t be time consuming) and when.

Avoid this: BD: “Can we discuss referees, they are critical to the Chambers research process”.  Partner: “Just copy names from last year, and take a few more names from real estate, they always use our top clients.”

“The partners think it’s a waste of time”

In researching our 2017 white paper ‘Legal Directories: are they still relevant?’, 60% of  GCs said they consult the directories when appointing a law firm. 54% of law firms said that a potential client had mentioned their directory rankings.

Most recently a client of our own confirmed that the cost of their Legal 500 microsite ‘pays for itself in new clients’ year in, year out.  While some partners will continue to view the directories as a non-chargeable drain on time, the evidence is clear:  buyers of legal services consult the directories.

The benefits of taking part are clear. Send reluctant partners a copy of our white paper.  Follow the points above to produce a persuasive submission without the stress and finally, read our blog on how to re-use and make the most of your submission content.

We have been doing this so long now that we’ve heard all the complaints and frustrations that firms have about the directories process – we’re also able to provide constructive solutions to most of them so if you’d like our help, get in touch.

Request our legal directories guides

We have specific directories guides for the USA and the Middle East. We also have our guide to the 12 mistakes law firms make with submissions.

Please email us to request our guides at directories@mdcomms.co.uk

About us

MD Communications are experts at boosting the reputation of law firms and suppliers to the legal sector- whether that’s raising your profile in the mediaenhancing your legal directory submissions or improving your social media presence.

Linsay Leslie is the head of directories and tenders at MD Communications, the international legal PR agency. MD Communications is on Twitter @mdcomms

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