Writing, editing and legal directories advice

Tag Archives: submissions

Legal 500 EMEA Deadlines now live – and new submission process now in effect!

The new schedule for Legal 500 EMEA is online, with both referees and submissions due in August (see below for dates). It’s important to give yourselves plenty of time to get ready for this, as the new submission process is now in effect.

While the information required remains basically the same, the new form can seem fiddly to the unaccustomed eye, especially if you are used to just ‘topping and tailing’ your Chambers submissions. So give yourself plenty of time to prepare, and remember that it is vital that your referees are sent in on time to ensure they will be contacted.

You can find full details of the new process here:

For some simple tips on choosing referees:

10 questions to ask before you send in your referee spreadsheet:

From the Legal 500 site:


Client referees deadline: 13 August 2018

Editorial submission deadline: 13 August 2018

Firm interviews conducted: 17 September – October 2018

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Need help? Get in touch –


Legal 500 Asia Pacific – the way you submit has changed!

New submission process for Legal 500 Asia Pacific

The changes that Legal 500 started to roll out for the UK research are now implemented, meaning that they will only accept submissions in their own template, submitted according to their new guidelines (click the Asia Pacific section under the How Do You Get Involved for details).

While the changes are understandable – I have seen enough submissions to understand the varying quality and length of the kinds of submissions Legal 500 were getting! – the new forms can seem fiddly and time consuming to fill in if you are used to a more freeform approach, or simply editing your Chambers submissions to fit. So while the 18 May deadline may seem nice and far away, if you haven’t already started the process, you should do so as quickly as possible to ensure that everything is completed promptly.

Confidentiality labelling: take extra care!

One of the most common teething problems I saw when working with clients on the UK guide was confusion over the confidentiality labelling on the new form, which isn’t always intuitive – so given that this is the first time with the new system, I would advise those tasked with both filling in and checking the forms to give themselves plenty of time to check that everything is correctly labelled according to the new formats.

Need help? Get in touch –

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Legal directories: what to do when the results come in

Legal 500 UK is out this week and Chambers UK will launch shortly. It’s a rare year when anyone will be completely happy with their results, so here are some steps to take if you have an issue with the rankings.

Take a deep breath and ask – do they have a point?

It’s easy to have a knee-jerk reaction to the rankings, especially if you haven’t been included or haven’t got the rankings you think you deserve. But it’s important not to over-react – firing off a furious email in haste risks souring any future relationship with the guides. Consider this: are there obvious factors that have impacted on your ranking? The guides have such long lead times that it’s easy to be angry the ranking doesn’t reflect recent growth, etc, which may have happened during the course of the research, or personnel changes which have not had the chance to bed in, and the like. Sometimes, you just have to accept that some things take a while to filter through and they won’t be reflected till next year.

Did you make obvious mistakes in the process?

Again, a long time between the submissions process and the publication date means it’s easy to forget, but before you rage at the directories, ask yourself: did we contribute to this? Sending submissions or referees late can hamper the process and affect rankings, as can sending in a small number of referees or a partial submission (particularly for a competitive section). There may be an obvious – and easily fixed – reason for a disappointing showing.

Is it an actual mistake?

Before contacting the guides, it’s important to assess whether what you’re unhappy about is actually a factual error, or just a take on information that you don’t quite agree with. Naming a corporate lawyer in the real estate tables, incorrectly identifying a client, referring to a deal your firm didn’t act on: these are mistakes. Saying that your firm is, for instance, best known for its expertise in employment work when you’re pushing yourself as a corporate practice is their interpretation of their research; it’s not necessarily wrong. You need to react to these differently.

Incorrect category rankings

Here’s where Chambers’ practice of sending out interim notification of the rankings wins out over Legal 500. If you get notification that Lawyer X is mistakenly ranked in employment when he should be in insurance, or Lawyer Y is ranked in the North West when she now works out of London, simply email the editor, or profiles contact (the person the notification will have come from), and let them know. It’s important to be aware though that this may not simply be a matter of switching tables: someone who gets enough feedback to appear in a regional table may not be included in the far more crowded London market, and some tables are more competitive than others, so the lawyer in question may end up not being included in the final guide.

Factual errors post-publication

Email the relevant editor straight away and make sure your email has a subject heading that makes it clear there is a factual error that needs addressing. (Immediately post-publication, the editors are inundated with emails asking for feedback or explanation, but they will try to prioritise fixing any errors). In such enormous books, it’s inevitable that some mistakes will slip through – albeit impressively rarely – but both guides will generally make amendments to the online versions of their guides if there are genuine errors in the text as quickly as they can. You can also email them personnel updates if partners have left.

“That’s not us!” What you can do when you disagree with the editorial

The short answer is, not much. You can email the relevant editor and ask just why they’ve said that, and explain why you disagree, and often they will be willing to give feedback on their decisions, though this may be limited, and this willingness will vary between editors (and if you disagree with everything, you may have to accept that it’s their guide, and you’re stuck with their opinions). Frustrating as it may be, the best thing to do is address this in the next round of submissions and interviews – remember, the guides want to get it right, so they are happy to listen to your feedback, providing you are reasoned in your approach. Sending furious emails/shouting down the phone at the editor is pointless and counter-productive.

“Help! The guide has named a client who wanted to be kept confidential!”

This is a situation that is as unfortunate as it is mercifully VERY rare. Again, it’s easy to rectify swiftly online with an email to the editor. In rare cases, where the mistake has been entirely on the directory’s side (in all honesty, this is not usually the case – these mistakes most often happen because cases or clients are incorrectly or inconsistently labelled in the submission(s)) it may be worth asking that the editor or researcher contacts the client to apologise for the error, though again this is up to their discretion. Whatever happens, there’s pretty much nothing to be done about the hard copies, so it’s worth adhering to the guiding principle that if it would be absolutely catastrophic to have a case or client identified, don’t mention them by name in the submission.

Avoiding a repeat of mistakes

It may be worth stating in the next submission that an error was made last year and how it was corrected, and draw attention to the fact in any telephone interview (nicely, of course!). Review the information you are sending the guides to ensure it is clear, and that all guidelines re: confidentiality are consistently adhered to.

Get a head start on next year!

While there is never a guarantee you will get the ranking you want – the hard fact is the guides’ research may never agree with your self-assessment, or you may never quite fit into the way they categorise certain practice areas – the best way to maximise your chances of getting a fair ranking is to engage proactively with the process. Give yourself time to prepare a clear, concise submission that highlights your key points and to compile a list of referees who will be responsive and positive, and get all of your information to the guides in the format and time frame they outline.

Need help? Contact me at to see how a consultant can help.

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Ten questions to ask before you submit your referee spreadsheet

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)?

It’s easy to assume a client will be OK with it because you have a good relationship, but they might already get asked a lot, or there might be a company policy in place against giving external feedback. Also, it’s just polite!

2.Have you worked for this client in the last year?

It looks suspicious to a directory if the last good feedback you can muster up is from 4 years ago…

3.Can they talk about more than one lawyer/department?

This isn’t essential, but when referee numbers are limited you can get more ‘bang for your buck’ if someone can comment on more than one person.

4.Are you SURE they are happy with your service?

Really, really sure? And if they are a client of more than one department, are you sure they are happy with the firm as a whole? A grievance with another team can spill into your feedback.

5.Will they answer emails?

A lot of research is done by email. The most positive feedback in the world is no use if the client never gets round to sending it…

6.Have you put them down for more than one directory or award application – if so, do they know and are they OK with that?

‘Referee fatigue’ is a real danger: clients can get very sick of being constantly asked for feedback, so you need to ensure you don’t overuse them.

7.Are they from different organisations?

Providing multiple contacts from one organisation can backfire as it may annoy the client (‘you already spoke to my colleague!’) or can look to the directories like you only have one good client. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but still something to consider.

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 (though this will depend on how individual guides work, so again is not an absolute rule).

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. (This will of course vary from practice area to practice area – in areas where deals are very sensitive, it’s to be expected clients will be reluctant to be put forward as referees.)

10.Will they have any frame of reference with regard to other firms?

If you work in a sector where many of your clients are individuals rather than organisations (eg, family, private client, personal injury, 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. This is especially true if your clients are individuals who are not legally sophisticated (for instance, in the clinical negligence or personal injury spheres, where you may be the only lawyer they have ever instructed): they may agree to be a referee out of obligation to you, but may find the process upsetting or intrusive, and their feedback is likely to be of limited use.

Final bonus question: Are you using the correct spreadsheet? 

It sounds obvious, but every year I stop clients from sending Legal 500 spreadsheets to Chambers and vice versa (or have spreadsheets where information is copied across from one to the other, with little or no attention paid to the difference in formatting). You need to send the directories the info they need in the format they request, so it can be properly uploaded onto their systems.

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may need to think again.

Need help?

For further advice on choosing and managing referees, or any aspect of the directories or legal awards process, feel free to contact me:

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Chambers UK- making sure you’re on track

Now that both this year’s Legal 500 and Chambers UK are published – and the first deadlines for the latter suddenly seem awfully close – most UK firms will have started their submissions process for the next round (you have started, haven’t you?). So what should you be thinking about?

Make sure you use the new Chambers template: it’s quite a change from last year, so it’s important you use the correct one. (And remember: follow the instructions. If they say they want a work highlight to be a page long, they don’t mean ‘except if you think it’s really important’. They’ve designed the template to give them what they want, so stick to it!)

Know how many referees you can send – and start contacting them now! You’re allowed 20 referees for almost all UK areas (see the research schedule for exceptions). Even if you can’t fill the quota (not all practice areas or teams will justify the full 20), make sure you’re maximising your chances by contacting your referees and asking for permission now, not a couple of weeks before Christmas when everyone has a lot else on their mind!

Check out the new Practice Area Definition page: this is especially important where categories have changed, such as Litigation and International Arbitration.

Need help? Be quick! Most good directory consultants get booked up far in advance, so if you are despairing of the whole process and want someone to manage it from start to finish, you’ve likely missed your chance, sorry! But if you need help on a few submissions where you’re struggling to finesse your message or you need some advice, they might be able to squeeze you in, so why not ask? I always do my best to accommodate clients who come to me only after Chambers has been published, and am sure it’s the same with most of the other established consultants. And you may need less help than you think: sometimes the problem is an easy quick fix, or you just need some guidance on how best to get your message across, or some editing to get your information within the guidelines. So now is the time to ask – it might save you some time and stress later down the line!

Start thinking about the next deadline BEFORE the holidays: Remember, the regional deadline for Legal 500 and the next batch of Chambers deadlines will come around sooner than you think! And everyone tends to be swamped when they come back in January, and suddenly you don’t have long at all to get everything done. At least start thinking now about referees, work highlights, etc. so you don’t have it all to do when you’re still recovering from Christmas…

Need some help? Contact me!  




Directories deadlines – Chambers Europe and Legal 500 USA

First off, I am loving Legal 500′s new monthly timetable – an ‘at a glance’ guide to what action is needed on different guides each month, which makes it much easier to keep track of what you need to do throughout the year to keep on top of the directories process. This month sees the publication of the UK and Latin American guides, ongoing EMEA and Caribbean research, while firms submitting for the US guide should start prepping now.

Meanwhile, over at Chambers, the next Europe deadline is September 15 while a number of US states have deadlines this month also.

Need help? If you find the process overwhelming or are looking for ways to streamline it, feel free to get in touch! You can contact me at





Legal Directories: Submissions – what extra info should you include?

Extra information – what is it worth including?

All researchers will be familiar with the sinking feeling they get when they pick up a submission that has ignored the recommended length and is packed to the gills with extraneous information, personal recommendations and lengthy lists of publications and awards. But equally understandably, a firm sees these as ways of validating its case for a strong ranking. The trick, as ever, is striking a balance between what the directories need (and will focus on) and what your firm wants to include, or what, politically, you know you can’t leave out.

What do the directories care about? The main answer here is: their own research. No amount of awards and publications will convince them you are a great practice if their own notes are full of clients saying you’re terrible. The whole point of the directories is they do very extensive research and use that to formulate their rankings. If they were too easily swayed by things like awards – especially those awards for which they don’t know the criteria – they wouldn’t be doing their jobs. But that’s not to say supporting information can’t be helpful – to you and to them – if you use it properly.

But we won a load of awards this year! Feel free to mention this, but don’t use it as the hook you hang your submission on (that should be the quality work you are doing for quality clients), and keep it brief. For example, in the practice overview, you can include something like, ‘among our highlights this year was winning the Lawyer award for Best Employment Team and HR Magazine’s award for best external counsel’. It doesn’t have to be lengthy. You can also add this to case highlights where relevant (‘it was on the back of this deal that we won the X award’), and to individual lawyer bios. The Chambers submission template has a section for Additional Info where you can supply a list of awards, commendations etc. A little context may be helpful, too, if you feel the significance needs highlighting but again keep it nice and brief.

What about all our publications? This can be tricky, partly because lawyers can over-estimate how impressive their own publishing credentials are, and partly because most established lawyers will be regularly published and it’s very hard to differentiate between them. Again, this can be tackled by a brief line in the practice overview and bios, with a focus on what makes them stand out – for instance, being regularly quoted in the quality press will generally have more cachet than being published in a niche or minor publication. (So you could say, for example, “Partner Joe Bloggs has this year been widely quoted in the Financial Times and on BBC radio on the subject of Product Liability, reinforcing his reputation in this area” or “Josephine Bloggs this year edited the key textbook on Agricultural Law in the UK”). If you really want to send a long list of publications (or attached press releases) I would suggest putting these at the end of the submission, perhaps as an appendix, but remember busy researchers generally favour conciseness over lots of extra information

Client testimonies: Some firms are reluctant to give the directories client details, perhaps for reasons of confidentiality, or because they don’t want their clients bothered by a third party, and occasionally will include (or suggest including) client testimonials in the submissions. I’d advise against this: most researchers will only consider client feedback that they have got through their own, independent research. Far better to spend time making sure you correctly choose your referees and prep them as to what to expect so they are more likely to both agree to be referees and to respond.

A version of this article was first published as part of the Defero Law Directory Tune Up Group.

Chambers UK Schedule now live

The schedule for Chambers UK is now live, with submission deadlines mid-December and mid-February. At the recent Meet the Editors presentation, new UK editor Jonathan Rubin stressed the importance of getting submissions (and, particularly, referees) in on time, so it really is vital that you start the process straight away – 6 weeks may seem like a long time, but it really isn’t!

If you need assistance or advice on your submissions process, feel free to contact me at – but whether you’re doing this inhouse or using external advisors, it is important to start the ball rolling now…

The UK Guide will be published this evening at a London launch, and should be online by around 9-10pm, if previous years are any indication.