How Can Your Firm Gain International Recognition?
Independent legal directories are publications which a conduct ranking process of law firms globally, on an annual basis. Rankings are based on referenced work submitted by law firms individually, and client feedback on services provided from client contacts provided by the firm in a form of a survey or telephone interview. Research is conducted for various practice areas and industries and varies from market to market. Generally, participating in the research process is a great marketing concept. Entering the ranking process is free of charge and you can buy a law firm profile if you want to additionally promote your firm. Yet, like many of my clients, I have mixed feelings when it comes to legal directories.
A few do’s and don’ts
Due to legislative restrictions most law firms in SEE are not allowed to advertise locally or regionally, so for those law firms who would like to expand their client base internationally this is one of the best ways to promote their services and high-quality offering. We have seen many multinational companies including a top-tier ranking requirement as part of their RFP process when deciding on new engagements.
Is it worth entering the process? The short answer is yes, definitely. The process is free but can be time consuming. So, what is the criteria for getting ranked? This is where our clients, (and us as consultants) get into muddy waters. Although we have guided our clients through this process many times and successfully ranked most of them in the first year of entering the process, we have seen many changes and discrepancies in the process itself and the criteria throughout the years. We have talked to editors to try to understand the requirements better.
What we have learned
Choose the right legal directories
Depending on the type and size of your legal practice (focus on transactional work, IP, M&A, Banking & Finance, Tax) you can choose various legal directories. We usually recommend: Chambers and Partners, Legal 500 and IFLR 1000, etc.
When describing your legal practice make sure not to just use marketing language
Name the actual type of work you have done for your client, focus on transactions, and emphasize specializations in certain practice areas or industries.
Choose the best referential work (matters you have worked on) for the past 12 months
The criteria for the deals that you should include in the submission for a practice area is usually: high value deals, transactional work, complex matters and precedents, high publicity deals, well know international corporate clients, collaborations with well-known international law firms or financial advisors, etc.
Choose your referees smartly
For client feedback make sure you send contact details only of those clients who definitely respond and who will say something nice about you. Include your peers from other law firms. You do not have to include CEOs, CFOs but rather people with whom you were directly in touch regarding a listed matter. Make sure contacts you have listed participate in the process. No response is usually interpreted as a negative response!
Difficulties that most small firms encounter
Most lawyers in this part of the world take a conservative approach to marketing mainly due to rigorous legal restrictions, and are reluctant to engage in client name dropping for the sake of their own promotion. Also, due to the market size there are not that many landmark deals. This does not mean that they do not work on complex or important matters or have high profile clients. It means that firms need to carefully conceive a strategy for how they would like the market and potential clients to perceive them and to proactively demonstrate their professional achievements.