We were recently asked, by some barristers, why they should bother with the directories this year… Frankly, we’re asked this every year. There’s no denying that filling in the Chambers & Partners (and now subtly different Legal 500 submissions form) is an annual pain in the neck. So, why should members of chambers bother?
- You don’t want to be the only one not included. Once upon a time the directories presented a snapshot of the industry, irrespective of whether members of chambers put in submissions. The theory was that it was a meritocratic exercise and the best people would always be ranked. However, over time, the process has become more and more reliant on submissions. For the first time, in 2019, chambers saw leading members removed from the rankings entirely for not having provided submissions for that section. When questioned the editor of one publication said that they took a lack of submission to mean that that individual no longer practised in that area.
- They reflect industry opinion. There’s no denying that the directories offer a rare, relatively objective study of the industry. Unlike chambers’ websites (which, frankly could and often do say anything) rankings are decided not on the submission alone but on whether the claims made in the submission are supported by peers and referees. The results have a credibility not found in generic web pages and profiles.
- Supporting your claims. Linked to the last point, the directories can be helpful in supporting claims made on your chambers profile and web pages. There’s no denying that the quotes and recommendations help to add weight to your online presence – and this can be extended into social media, as well.
- Practice development #1. Whilst it may well be the case that UK-based private practice lawyers are unlikely to use the directories to select counsel, those in other jurisdictions will. They are often unaware of the key individuals in specific fields and are known to rely on the directories for an industry-led review of expertise.
- Practice development #2. With more instruction coming directly from in-house counsel or non-private practice clients, the directories are also useful for providing a clear indication of expertise to those not regularly working with counsel or those in your field.
- Practice development #3. Linked to this is your own profile development. Having an industry ranking, with supporting quotes and client testimonials can be a great help when being put forward for work. This can be particularly useful when working with the public sector, where procurement processes require more detailed evidence of expertise.
- Practice development #4. One of the best ways to know how well you’re performing in a specific area is to look back at the work you’ve done over the year. Having an annual ‘stop and think’ is worth its weight in gold. Considering the areas of development and growth, as well as areas of lesser performance is central to your own practice development. The directories are a good, annual date in the diary to do this. In fact, sitting down to do this process, with your clerk can be the start of an action-planning process for areas of change and development.
- Practice development #5. Having sat down and worked out your highlights not only will you have your directory submission (and possibly a development plan for work for the coming year) but you have a list of case highlights that might, possibly, spin off into articles or training topics. Going through the directories is a useful way of identifying content that can be used in further marketing – both on behalf of chambers and your own practice. And, don’t forget, any quotes or testimonials can help when pitching these to press or conferences for marketing.
- Digital clout. So, you’ve a great chambers website profile and it has some directory quotes on it to support the claims of excellence you’ve made. How do people find you? The majority will type in your name or, at least, the area of law and chambers name. Google will list the most likely and popular results first. A directory ranking generates (at least one) page on the directory website and this is highly ranked by Google, in terms of clout. If this then links to (or is linked to from) your website profile, that too will show up. If you’re not ranked you will appear lower down the search results and could be replaced with others that are ranked. There’s no denying that Google considers the directories to be a credible source and worth listening to when presenting search results.
- Teamwork. Ultimately, one of the best reasons for doing the directory submissions is that the more, quality submissions that go in, the better chambers, as a whole, will be viewed. A higher ranking for chambers generally means more enquiries and more work coming in. But… to secure a high chambers ranking the directories are not only looking for high volume numbers (members) but also high quality content (excellent examples of work). This means submissions that show senior members working with junior counsel, as well as a good level of work at all seniorities. A ‘joined-up’ approach, where members take the submission process seriously can help to raise chambers’ profile across the board. Members of chambers don’t always think in terms of teamwork but there really are benefits to it, just this once…
This article, written in 2018, looks at the return on investment from doing directory submissions: