Some of you will be submitting for the next set of deadlines while still feeling a bit disgruntled with the results which came out a few weeks ago.

You’re not alone – in fact, the findings in our recent white paper ‘Legal Directories: Are they still relevant?’ found that more than half of law firms believe they don’t get the rankings they deserve and 84 per cent are frustrated with the time it takes to make a submission.

But despite these sentiments, the message was clear in our white paper – the directories are here to stay, they’re generally well used and are really important for winning business and standing out in a competitive market.

So if you did everything you could to get ahead in The Legal 500 or Chambers & Partners rankings this year but didn’t get the results you want, then never fear – there is always next time and in those last few weeks and months ahead of the next deadlines, I thought a few extra tips might help.

I asked our experienced team to come up with some top insider tips for maximising your chances of success.

Top tips to improve your rankings

Be realistic. Of course every firm/practice has a very clear idea of where they should be ranked and why. However, it’s important to be realistic. If you’re not currently ranked at all then you’re not going to shoot straight to the top this year.

Provide evidence. Writing a submission that states you’re the best in your field and that’s the end of it isn’t going to get you very far. The decisions about rankings are evidence-based – your submission needs to be packed full of examples that a researcher can use to justify moving you to where you want to be.

Tell your story. Say what makes you different from other firms and how you fit with particular clients. Draft your submission as you would write a pitch to win business – treat the directories as if they are a potential client.

Be concise.  Researchers have mountains of submissions to get through.  Make their job a little bit easier.  This means not copy and pasting blurb from your general marketing credentials but presenting your key messages and evidence clearly.  If you read back through and identify ‘marketing blurb’ take it out.  If it isn’t evidencing a key point, lose it.  A pair of fresh eyes can help here, so ask a colleague or external support to undertake an independent and objective review for you.

Client feedback is king. Often left until the last minute, sometimes forgotten about, client feedback is the much-underestimated key to the rankings process. Without positive reinforcement from clients you’re unlikely to get very far. Put some thought into the clients you choose – do they demonstrate your reach, will they reply to a request for feedback, are they likely to name you over another practice? Reach out to your clients to let them know a call may be coming.

Don’t be late. It’s not like editors won’t provide deadline extensions, but there are many disadvantages to submitting late. If you throw together a list of deals at the last minute, you won’t have the time to really think about how the work highlights you include support your case for ranking. You may end up missing crucial information from the submission or failing to get input from key partners who are too busy to help at short notice. If you really can’t avoid a late submission then prepare your referees first – submit those on time and you can at least get the process of research under way.

Prep your partners. At MD Communications, we have helped firms of all sizes with submissions to Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500. One of the key factors that makes the entire process much smoother is giving the partners who will be involved a very clear idea of what they need to produce (practice insight, deals, referees, firm strengths etc) and when they need to produce it.

Great directory rankings are not rocket science: they are preparation, information and a focused approach. If you’d like our help with your next round of submissions then please get in touch.

About us

MD Communications are experts at boosting the reputation of law firms and suppliers to the legal sector- whether that’s enhancing your legal directory submissionsraising 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

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