Legal 500 is out (for most… come on Scottish Bar…) and that means only one thing. It is that time of year again… where firms must start considering their legal directory submissions – the first being Chambers & Partners in early December. We don’t need to tell you that this process is a long, exhausting one. Like you, we’ve worked on directory submissions for what feels like decades and, here at ELE Global, we want to make things a bit clearer for you by setting out our top tips to make your directory submission as smooth sailing as possible.
- Start creating evidence earlier than you expect – The number one, golden rule of directory submissions is making sure that everything you claim within your submission can be backed up. Unfortunately, from our experience, many fall at this first hurdle. If you have areas and people you would like to feature, make sure you’ve done your homework, prepared some examples and that they’ve been supported (and promoted) throughout the year.
- Understand the deadlines – With such a wide range of information required for submissions it is of utmost importance that you have a clear idea of exactly what the deadlines are and what will be expected of you – this leads me nicely onto the next port of call which is…
- Plan around the deadlines – It is averaged that the entire submission process will take around six weeks… and that’s if you’ve done your homework beforehand. This covers the whole process of collating submissions and referees, editing, briefing and so on. And, in theory, there are no such things as extensions in the legal directory world. So, it is key that you are aware of the deadlines as well as how much time it will take to complete each task. The list of requirements needed for the submission is extremely rigorous, so planning and making sure that each section is completed to an equally high standard is key. Requirements include details on recent matters, your lawyers, an overview of the practice, a list of clients and feedback on both competitor rankings and your own. You can see why it’s worth planning things out!
- Correctly structure your submission – Let’s be blunt here. Both directories publish their own forms. And they change them each year. Consider, for a moment, what it says to them about the amount of respect you have for the process if you’re using last years’ (or older) form… or worse, using Chambers & Partners’ form for Legal 500.
- Start early – The key to success, here, is starting early. Really early. No, that doesn’t mean waking up at 3am in mid-November in a blind panic. You have a lot of evidence to compile and edit. It’s much easier if you do this gradually over the year, rather than rushing at the end. You could even use it to develop case studies and testimonials for your pitches and website, too, if you take this approach and start early.
- Know your audience – This includes researching who will be editing each directory., Not only is it worth finding this out but, in fact, you can even call them to ask about their preferences as to formatting and methodology… perhaps get some feedback on last year’s submissions – people marked for interest and areas for improvement. And, if you have key people seeking ranking it’s always worth seeing if editors and sub-editors are free for a coffee to meet and talk through where you are with things. Especially now we can all actually go out and have real coffee!
- Compile your referees – You’re going to need a list of up to 20 references who can shout out how brilliant you and your lawyers are. Don’t think you only need to include clients. You can include peers, experts, barristers, solicitors, judges and anyone else that can provide a professional and informed reference. Also… don’t forget to brief them. Make sure they know what will happen and if you have any key points relevant to their reference, worth communicating.
- Check your language – All of the editors and researchers agree that a selective, clear and concise piece of writing is more likely to gain success, rather than an overload of information lacking in focus and useful information. But it needs to be written in a language they’ll understand – not bullet point lawyer-speak. Think about your reader. They have thousands of these to plough through so try to make their life easier. Include a summary sentence explaining why something is important or demonstrates that the person is worthy of ranking, include references to other ranked peers and don’t skimp on the press clippings and evidence.
- Do your research – There is no need to go into this process blind, there are a number of resources available to give you the best chance at a successful application. Both Chambers & Partners and Legal 500, themselves, host forums and events, in order to give advice and… don’t forget the value of talking to the experts about how you can get this even tighter. This leads me onto the final point…
- Get in touch with ELE Global to aid your application process – Yes, that’s right, although the process can feel confusing and exhausting, we are here to help with a team of experts on hand to make your life that little bit easier.
Get in touch to find out how we can help you write your law firm’s directory submissions.
If you want someone to take the headache away and write those submissions for you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll reply right away letting you know how much we’d love to write them for you!