- Posted by Leslie Valenza
- On June 30, 2021
- Chambers and Partners, Chambers law firm rankings, Chambers submissions
Earning recognition in Chambers’ prestigious law firm guides can be a time-consuming, multiyear endeavor. After dedicating countless hours to collecting and summarizing the firm’s most significant matters and preparing lawyers and their client references for interviews with Chambers researchers, some firms may be left wondering why they haven’t yet gained traction in Chambers’ rankings. The guide’s most recent rankings provide critical insight on the legal landscape – or at least which firms have successfully navigated the submissions process.
Below are some of the common questions we hear about Chambers’ rankings and how best to achieve recognition in the company’s 2022 guides.
How can I determine whether my firm, practice or lawyer has a shot at being ranked?
The first step in the Chambers submission process is to identify the practice areas and markets in which your firm shines, both in terms of the significance of its work and the prominence of its lawyers’ reputations.
Evaluate Chambers’ latest rankings in these areas and assess how your firm fits in the mix:
- Does your firm regularly work alongside ranked firms as co-counsel in significant matters?
- Do your lawyers argue against notable litigators or negotiate transactions with other recognized dealmakers?
- Have your lawyers established reputations as leaders in their local legal communities?
If the answer to these questions is, “Yes,” absolutely proceed with making a submission. Demonstrate why you deserve recognition by citing your lawyers’ proximity to those who have been selected.
If the answer is, “No,” we recommend that you begin by making submissions that underscore your strengths as you work to raise your firm’s profile in key markets. Again, getting ranked often is a multiyear process and getting on Chambers’ radar is necessary to reach that goal.
Can I expect to get my practice ranked the first year I submit?
Unfortunately, not always. In fact, we often see individual lawyers get ranked before a practice begins to earn recognition. Chambers takes a prudent approach to ensuring that a practice has a deep bench and strong track record; it often takes more than one submission to earn that reputation.
But don’t get discouraged: Start this year and begin to demonstrate your results to Chambers. Editors always look at the previous year’s submission and compare it to the current submission. In other words, you can’t get ranked until you start making submissions.
The good news about this sophisticated process is that a firm or practice won’t necessarily fall out of Chambers’ favor with one slower year or poor submission either. Chambers takes a broad-brushed view of the natural ebbs and flows of a law firm’s work. And, of course, referee feedback is heavily weighted in Chambers’ research process.
Why hasn’t my lawyer or practice been ranked after years of submitting?
There may be several reasons why a firm may not gain traction in Chambers’ rankings after making numerous submissions. Sometimes a firm is challenged to compete with the impactful work of larger firms. Sometimes a firm’s brand is overshadowed by locally based firms with longstanding reputations in the market. Many firms have successfully overcome these hurdles.
When a firm is not selected, Chambers will divulge some feedback on firms’ submissions – and that feedback almost always notes that a firm did not receive recommendations from referees or peer firms. In addition, firms serious about getting ranked should purchase a Chambers Insights report. Here, we learn about the researcher’s impression of the practice, market feedback on the attorneys and the overall trajectory of the practice – in other words, is it on Chambers’ radar or not? It’s an investment – about $2,500 to $3,000 – but well worth it.
Selecting the right references is critical to Chambers’ submissions process. Referees should be clients with whom you have worked over the past year and who you are absolutely confident will return calls to the Chambers researchers. In fact, it’s better to list a lower-ranking person who will speak to the researchers than a C-suite executive who is unlikely to respond.
In a June 8 webinar, Chambers staff encouraged referee lists to be a 50-50 gender mix and advised that referees who are ethnically diverse are highly valued.
We know it’s hard to ask your clients for their time and praise, so we offer a number of recommendations to our clients when it comes to making the ask, preparing the reference well for the phone interview and providing them with the VIP treatment they deserve.
Why did my lawyer lose their ranking?
Some law firm directories recognize lawyers and practices in perpetuity once they are selected – Chambers is not one of them. While individual lawyers tend to maintain their standings in Chambers guides after their initial selection, their band rankings often change and they can, on occasion, fall off the list completely.
While Chambers takes the long-view and considers lawyers’ matters submitted over the past few years, attorneys most often lose their rankings if their peers and client referees fail to laud their work. If competitors haven’t teamed up with a lawyer, haven’t argued against them in court or haven’t heard others sing their praises within the market, they are unlikely to recommend the lawyer as a worthy candidate for Chambers.
Likewise, if a lawyer’s referees do not return Chambers’ calls or do not proactively endorse their work during an interview, Chambers researchers cannot substantiate the attorney’s reputation or rightly maintain their coveted ranking. Afterall, Chambers’ goal is to publish respected guides that accurately reflect the legal market and general counsel’s sentiments toward it.
To ensure – to the best of your ability – that your firm’s key players and practices maintain their Chambers rankings, it is critical to put forth a high-quality submission that includes key messaging, significant matters and strategically selected referees who are well prepared to commend your lawyers each year.