Keith Heddle, Mackrell International Managing Director suggests how your firm can rank higher in the legal directories.
This is a summary of a Business Development Roundtable session with William McLaughlin and Marco Guasti at Harpa Legal Marketing (Marco used to work at Chambers as a Researcher) which Keith attended.
Marco’s business helps firms tell their stories to achieve better results.
Download this as a Word document here
1. No Jargon
Don’t use legalese and technical jargon or acronyms when making submissions; not all researchers are lawyers, so make it easy to read and easy to understand.
2. Paragraph Signposts
Use short headlines/sub headlines to introduce the key element of what’s in each key paragraphs of your submission – this breaks up large swathes of text and signposts core elements.
Be nice and human and have a relationship with your researcher; this won’t win you your ranking, but researchers are time-pressed and certainly don’t take kindly to rudeness, abruptness or even arrogance (they have experienced it all!)
4 Your interview
When you are interviewed, make sure you do not a) openly criticise other lawyers and law firms and b) spend the whole-time self-aggrandising and/or overtly pushing the justification for your ranking or increase in ranking.
If you are concerned about the performance of another lawyer or firm, rather than critiquing it directly, soften it with a comparison, eg. what I’m seeing in the market is that law firm B seems to be more prominent and more internationally active than law firm A.
Researchers use a system of PO and BoD, ‘Has Potential’ and ‘Benefit of the Doubt’ with rankings – so you may end up not being ranked or moved up a rank, but be on PO, for instance – and that will stay until the next year’s review – or you could even end up moving from BoD to PO across two years before getting ranked. The message is, these things can take time.
If you can’t use a client name, describe what they do – eg. if you can’t say ‘BMW’, use, ‘A major German car manufacturer’. Nothing goes outside the submission (researchers don’t have time), so your answers won’t go beyond the research.
7 Twenty Cases
Always do your best to submit a full 20 cases rather than less. Obviously in certain areas eg. Arbitration, you won’t have 20 cases in a year, so common sense prevails.
Are Directory listings worth it? A moot point, but certainly there are still a number of Fortune 500 companies who will make listing part of their criteria; or it may be the factor that wins you the pitch if you’re down to the last two.
Not yet a prerequisite, but questions are increasingly being asked about the breadth of representation on your executive and in the project team.
10 Bios etc
Lawyer Bios and profiles do not add to a ranking – researchers don’t have time to review them; only at the end, when they are describing the lawyer in the ranking, they might refer to some details from the Bio – so don’t sweat this element!
11 Member Input
If any member firms have further suggestions or recommendations for ranking better in the legal directories, please email MI HQ directly.