Writing, editing and legal directories advice

The joy of print

Most of my non-legal work these days is online content, but I do still write for print publications – most notably, Better Business magazine, for whom I write a regular freelancing column. This month I also had a piece in Mslexia, the magazine aimed at female writers. Having both magazines arrive through my letterbox within a matter of days reminded me that, no matter the joys of digital – and I love the immediacy of digital, the fast turnaround and the ability to connect with readers all over the globe – there’s something about seeing your name in print that, for a writer like me, will never lose its thrill. Clearly now I just need to work on my photography skills…

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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.


Self-publishing – the next step

I’ve done a lot with my business this year to expand into other markets – in my legal directories work, for instance, I have done a lot more presentations, and more one-to-one phone calls, either handling Q&A sessions or doing mock interviews with lawyers. So it made sense that, when it comes to the publishing side of the business, I branch out on that front too. I’ve already expanded to other platforms than Amazon – in part to extend international reach, but also to reach those readers who aren’t keen on Amazon’s attitude to tax (I’m afraid, for an author, they’re a necessary evil – but hey, I pay my taxes…).

So the next step (unfortunately Amazon-dependent – whatever their problems, they are a godsend to indie creatives) is getting my books in print. The reasons for this are varied: some solid business sense, some not so much  – as a lover of print, part of me wanted to simply have my books as things I could hold in my hands. But books as physical objects are also useful as a marketing tool and a way of increasing my profile with readers: I can take them to events, readers who enjoy them can share them with friends, buy them as gifts, etc. Sure, it took a lot of time and effort to get there, and, despite the CreateSpace system being free to use, I had to pay someone to format the book and cover for publishing, so I have to sell (quite a few) copies before I make a return on my investment, but that’s what I feel it is: an investment. Stay tuned to see if it pays off…

Want to help? You can buy paperback copies of Dark Dates here.

DD Nook



Chambers Europe is out – and the next deadline is pending

The new Chambers Europe and Legal 500 EMEA are both now available online, so I thought this an opportune time to repost an old piece on what to do if you didn’t get the results you wanted! It’s also worth remembering that getting your submissions in on time is an important part of the process, and the next deadline for some countries for Chambers is May 12, so if these dates apply to you, you should be looking at getting your submissions finalised ASAP.

If you have been less than thrilled at your results and want to know how to maximise your chances next year, don’t hesitate to get in touch –


Venturing into new territories – publishing on Nook

I have sorely neglected this blog of late, mainly because I have been ‘suffering’ from that most benign freelancers’ curse – being too busy with work to actually look for more work, or to promote my business to new clients. It’s been a very hectic directories season for me: as well as handling a raft of UK clients, I am now working with firms in South Africa, the Middle East, Europe, the US, Asia and Australia – so have been fairly full on over the last few months, albeit in the best possible way.

However I am trying not to neglect the other streams of my business: I continue to write for a number of magazines and websites, and I am, of course, still nurturing my personal writing. As part of this, I decided to expand into publishing on Nook. It’s not a huge platform in the UK but, as it serves Barnes and Noble customers, is well-established in the US, so I am hoping that with this, alongside a renewed effort to get books out to reviewers – something I also let fall by the wayside last year – I’ll be able to raise my profile in that most lucrative of markets. If you have a Nook, you can buy the books here.

Watch this space…

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Chambers and Legal 500 deadlines are looming – so here are my top 5 Submissions Made Easy posts to help

As ever there is a major deadline bottleneck at the start of the year – Chambers UK‘s last deadline is next Friday with the first European deadline not long after (24 February) and some Chambers Global and Asia deadlines coming in early March – so if you are submitting in these areas and haven’t started thinking about them yet, you really need to! (You can check out the schedule here). Hitting the deadlines is important – while Chambers will usually give an extension (at the editor’s discretion and depending on the practice area, of course) sending submissions in late can impact on the research and, as a result, your rankings. Research is done to a very tight schedule these days – so it’s important not to miss your window by sending in submissions and referees too late to be of use.

And remember Legal 500 are taking a stricter line on contacting referees sent in late – at the moment, just on their UK book but this policy may well spread, so it’s never been more important to be prompt!

If you’re struggling to manage your submissions process, or could just do with a few pointers to ensure you’re not creating more work than you need to, there are ways to make it less painful – why not get in touch to see how I can help?

Contact me at – and in the meantime, check out my Top 5 posts for making submissions at least slightly easier…

Chambers Europe deadline is out

The Chambers Europe deadlines are now live, and the first is pretty soon – Feb 24 for some jurisdictions, so it’s important to start the process as soon as possible.

You can check the schedule for all jurisdictions here.

Legal 500 UK deadlines now live

The UK deadlines for Legal 500 are now live here. As the regional ones are 31 January (which will be before some practice areas for Chambers) it’s important to start thinking about this now: put it off till after Christmas and you’re not leaving yourself much time…

Raising money for charity without running a marathon (or growing a moustache)

I’ll keep this post short as I’ve already covered the material on my Dark Dates blog, but since I am by nature (thankfully) ill-equipped to grow a moustache for Movember, and, less fortunately, ill-equipped to run a marathon (well, by ill-equipped, I mean I get out of breath running for the bus) I’ve decided to use my main marketable talent – writing – to try and raise some money for a cause I care about this Christmas.

Therefore I’ll be donating all royalties from my digital-only short story A Vampire Christmas to three homeless charities this year – to read more and to find out why homelessness is a very personal cause for me this year, click here. (UK Amazon link here)

Do help if you can – it’s less than £1 for the book, and every little helps!

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