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Legal Directories: Ten tips for choosing client referees

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.

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