- Posted by Liz Rucci
- On September 12, 2018
- Chambers, Chambers law firm rankings, Chambers submissions, Chambers USA, legal marketing, Legal Marketing Association
To all our legal professionals out there: Are Chambers submissions keeping you up at night? We have eight insider tips directly from Laura Mills, the former Chambers USA editor, to help make your submission process more efficient and effective.
Mills spent 10 years at Chambers and Partners, which identifies and ranks the most outstanding law firms and lawyers in more than 180 jurisdictions throughout the world. Based in London, she moved up from researcher to deputy editor to editor of the U.S. edition before leaving in April 2017. She joined the Atlanta chapter of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) in August to answer many of the questions legal professionals have when going through the Chambers submission process. Here are Mills’ recommendations:
- No shortcuts. Getting ranked, or rising in the rankings, takes a multiyear campaign. In most cases, a firm or individual will start in the lowest national ranking or state ranking. Editors always look at the previous year’s submission and compare it to the current submission. They may go back three or four years. Write the current submission knowing you need to show growth in the practice and avoid fudging on matters by recycling what was submitted last year.
- Manage expectations. Have realistic expectations for firms not currently ranked. Look at the current rankings and compare how your firm stacks up. Talk to the editor of that section for a candid assessment. A firm needs to satisfy metrics to get attention – value of matters, number of lawyers, visibility and importance of the work. A firm building a practice may be doing great work for clients, but Chambers won’t consider a practice that doesn’t have a substantial track record over a period of years.
- Don’t waste your time. The narrative portions of the submission – what the firm does well, feedback on your firm and competitors – are important, but the sine qua non is matters and client references. If you can’t show strength in these sections, you are not going anywhere. Additionally, do not spin your wheels on individual bios and precise headcount calculations. Longer submissions are not necessarily better. Stay within the template because you will be docked if you turn a one-page template into two or three pages.
- Strategize client references. Because of the weight that client references have, calculate a strategy around selecting and preparing references starting with encouraging clients to respond to Chambers. Client feedback is essential and if they don’t return calls, it will severely handicap your submission. Some clients are going to be more articulate and persuasive in their feedback, and it matters. So be sure to put forward your best resources.
- Not all references are equal. Chambers evaluates a firm’s references this way:
- Super clients – Clients who are listed on many submissions by multiple firms. Researchers call these references first because they are in the best position to compare firms. Everything being equal, these clients will carry the most weight because of their broad knowledge of the legal marketplace.
- Second tier – Clients listed on about a dozen submissions.
- Third tier – Clients listed on fewer than a dozen submissions.
- About matters. Matters should be presented in the submission form in their order of importance. Transactional matters are judged primarily on their dollar value. The form has space for 10 publishable and 10 confidential matters. You can alter the ratio – 18 confidential and two publishable, for example – as long as the total doesn’t exceed 20. Confidential matters are given the same weight as publishable matters.
- Take advantage of feedback. Chambers editors will give free feedback twice a year per firm on up to seven specific questions. Additionally, any firm serious about moving up in the rankings should purchase the Chambers Unpublished report on their firm. The standard version has all the anonymous comments collected by the researchers, plus analysis. The premium version has a comparative analysis to competitors. The reports are expensive but very useful in analyzing where a firm needs to shore up its submission.
- Build relationships. Researchers will talk to you during the submission period but avoid the temptation to fill the call with everyone around the table. They prefer to talk to one person. Calls won’t be returned promptly – a week or two later is not unusual – but researchers are willing to talk to you. Firms should develop a long-term strategy of building a relationship with the researchers and editors.
Poston Communication’s Content Team has prepared successful Chambers submissions for international, national and mid-market firms in a variety of practice areas. Please contact us if we can be of assistance with your Chambers submission.
Liz Rucci is a senior account executive at Poston Communications, based in Atlanta.