Writing, editing and legal directories advice

Monthly Archives: June 2014

Legal 500 EMEA – what you need to know now

The Legal 500 EMEA deadlines are fast approaching – with referees being due by 4th August and submissions by 11th August – so if you haven’t started the process yet, you really should. But there have been some changes to the Guide that you need to be aware of, so here’s a handy checklist.

Things to note:

  • Extended coverage: The Guide’s coverage is being expanded this year, both with the introduction of regional summaries and with a raft of new countries being added (Albania, Armenia, Angola, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique and Tanzania).  There are also new categories for some of those countries already covered.  So firms in those newly added countries or with strong regional presences should make sure they check the guidelines to ensure they are giving themselves the best possible chance to get ranked. Those who are used to submitting for the same sections every year should check that no new additions have been made for their country so they don’t miss out.
  • New referee process: In an attempt to limit the amount of times referees are contacted, the Guide is changing the way they contact referees who are sent in late – this means it really is vital to get your spreadsheets in on time (and properly formatted) or your clients may not be contacted. Again, check the guidelines for the full explanation, but prioritise getting your referees sorted on time.
  • New guidelines: In what looks like an effort to minimise work for the firms – and recognise that people won’t want to substantively change submissions they have already pulled together for Chambers – Legal 500 have changed their guidelines for submissions, making them closer aligned with Chambers and hopefully reducing the workload for those involved in the submission process. However, while this is a move to be applauded – it really should cut a lot of unnecessary duplication of work – it does mean if you’re simply sticking to the Legal 500 template you have been using for years you may be passing up the chance to include extra information that could be helpful to your case.
  • New website: While the new website looks great, it can take a little while to figure out where everything is – so if you’re looking for the guidelines, they can be found here: just click on the relevant guide for the information you need.

Need help? Whether it’s assistance in drafting submissions, negotiating the new guidelines or simply some feedback on what you did right or wrong last year, I offer a range of services to suit your budget. You can contact me at

Dealing with downtime – and more adventures in print

While there are many upsides to being a freelancer – I am writing this in my living room, with the sunshine pouring through open balcony doors, so I don’t expect anyone to be crying salty tears on my behalf – the downside is that, when you’re not busy, it’s easy to give into The Fear that you will never be busy again, that this lull in your schedule is only the first in many, and you will soon find yourself struggling to pay bills. It’s particularly pernicious at this time of year, when you know that you could, if you wanted, treat any downtime as a holiday – after all, it’s summer! Everyone deserves a holiday! But then the Fear reminds you that when you are being bombarded with images of your friends gallivanting off to glamorous locations, they are still getting paid while they do so.

My own business – tied as it is to the deadlines of the legal directories – is particularly susceptible to the summer lull. Last year I barely noticed, since I was full in the throes of my Year From Hell, and my attention was tied up with sorting out my mother’s estate and the endless red tape that involved, and finding somewhere to stay from one week to the next while I was house hunting. Since the one upside of having nowhere to live is you don’t pay any rent, I was able to survive on whatever work I could squeeze in around these two exhausting responsibilities, and even managed to use my time creatively, resulting in my last book, the novella / long short story A Vampire in Edinburgh.

This year, when I actually do have to pay rent and can’t just rely on the other people’s larders for my food, the summer slump seems a far more terrifying prospect, but it’s also one I am determined to utilise properly. I’ve built up my repertoire over the past year, and expanded my client base, so am planning to use the summer to see if I can build on both my range of products and expand my international client base, so that I can balance my schedule more throughout the year. I am continuing my project of getting my books into print (A Vampire in Edinburgh and Other Stories is now available in paperback), I have another novel coming out over the summer and I have a Dark Dates sequel in the works. But I’m also trying to accept that my chosen career will always have fallow seasons, and I need to work with that, not rail against it. I’ve always been terrible at taking holidays – even when I worked in an office, I found it impossible to switch off my BlackBerry. Now, though, I have realised that while that most elusive of things, ‘work-life balance’ is impossible to achieve on a day-to-day basis in my life (when I am busy, I am 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week busy), I can balance out that hectic period with a calmer, more restful season, when instead of fretting about what isn’t happening, I should be taking advantage of the slower pace to tend to all those things that necessarily get pushed aside when work is at full tilt.

Last year, I spent months trying to get my home by the sea – and now I have one, maybe this is the summer I learn to enjoy it.

You can buy A Vampire In Edinburgh and Other Stories here.