Referee feedback is one of the most important elements of the directories’ research, but many law firms stumble when selecting referees. So before you send in that spreadsheet, ask yourself the following questions:
1.Have you asked them (and have they said yes)?
2.Have you worked for this client in the last year?
3.Can they talk about more than one lawyer/department?
4.Are you SURE they are happy with your service?
5.Will they answer emails (a lot of research is done by email now)?
6.Have you put them down for more than one directory – if so, do they know and are they OK with that?
7.Are they from different organisations? Providing multiple contacts from one organisation can backfire as it may annoy the client, or can look to the directories like you only have one good client.
8.Are they referees for lawyers you wish to get into the tables/move up the rankings? Remember those at the top of the tables will likely get plenty of peer recognition so may be less reliant on client feedback.
9.Do they come from a client you have mentioned in your highlight deals? If you can’t provide any clients that match your big deals, the directories may wonder why.
10.Will they have any frame of reference with regard to other firms? If you work in a sector where your clients are individuals rather than organisations (eg, family, private client, trusts and estates) you may be better off putting forward other clients or professional contacts who are more able to compare your services with those provided by competing law firms
If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may need to think again.
A version of this article first appeared in the Legal Directory Tune Up Group.
The Legal 500 EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) deadlines seem like an age away – August, for God’s sake! – but with the summer holidays looming (for both lawyers and, one shouldn’t forget, their referees) it’s important to get the ball rolling now.
In some cases this will be easy – with a lot of Chambers Global/Europe categories already done it’s just a question of rejigging an existing submission to fit the Legal 500 guidelines, and updating it, but if you have to start from scratch, now is the time to do it.
Even if you send basically the same submission in to Chambers and Legal 500, you will need to format your referees in the correct spreadsheet for each guide.
Referees who have been contacted already by Chambers may assume that Legal 500 is the same guide, so ignore the Legal 500 email. Make sure your referees know what to expect.
Check your feedback section: It can be slightly baffling and a little annoying to a researcher to read heated feedback on rankings then realise the submission is talking about the ‘other’ guide…
You can read the full guidelines for Legal 500 here.
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The international research schedule is in full swing now, with the Legal 500 Asia deadlines just past, the Chambers international schedule (which varies from country to country and, in the USA, from state to state) well underway and the Legal 500 EMEA deadlines looming (well, ish: they’re in August but we all know that comes around faster than you think).
The new Legal 500 guide is online now: you can check it out here.