20 Aug

Directories - A brief history

The term “directory” is misleading and actually represents a broader and more diverse range of products intended to research, list, analyse, promote, advertise, measure and comment on lawyers and law firms. The umbrella term covers a myriad of listings, surveys, rankings, league tables, awards and more. Consequently, the directory means different things to different people within the legal sector.

In the 1980’s, two legal publishing entrepreneurs, Michael Chambers and John Pritchard developed a style of legal directory which invited law firms to prepare written submissions highlighting their achievements over the last year. Teams of researchers would supplement the written material with interviews with selected lawyers and clients. Once the research was finalised, the directories would publish tiered rankings of firms and lawyers in different practice areas. Before the age of the internet, the idea was novel as it provided crucial insight into law firms when lawyers were far more private about their dealings and information was scarce. Further directories of this type include Legal 500 (formerly Legalese), PLC Which Lawyer? and Euromoney’s IFLR 1000.

Are legal directories worth the trouble?

Like it or not, legal directories are used by clients, prospects and the press. Whilst a decision to instruct you on a matter will never rely solely on a directory citation, your ranking (or lack thereof) as a reputed local firm or as a practice area expert will have some influence on the clients or prospects decision. International law firms seeking to instruct African law firms regularly use the directory rankings to gain useful insights into the firms’ areas of expertise and into key lawyers and leading lights within the firm. Directories are also useful in helping profile your firm and in winning new business by providing additional and valuable marketing collateral for bids, tenders and PR.

Although traditional print directories have been replaced by online versions, there is clear evidence that clients and prospects use online directory information to assess law firms. Recent surveys on the topic show that a large percentage of buyers of legal services now search for information about lawyers online. Directories are a key source of website traffic and an excellent means of dominating search engine results. Google is often the first port of call followed by legal directories, law firm websites, news articles, blogs and other sources of information about lawyers. In other words legal directories really are important.

LGC best practice tips on dealing with directories

Develop a directories strategy - If you haven’t already done so take some time? to review the bigger picture regarding legal directories. Before writing any further submissions, it is imperative that your firm has clear objectives for participating in the various directories. What is it that you really want to get out of your directory submissions? Are your current rankings an accurate reflection of how your firm is performing compared to key competitors? Are your internal processes enabling you to achieve the results you desire? 

How can LGC help? By assessing, reviewing, and making strategic recommendations in relation to your current directory rankings, your approach to the submissions document itself and also your current internal processes.

Be selective about directories -  Remember that not all directories have equal value so be selective. Don’t fall into the trap of investing time in all of them because they are not all the same and the reality is that certain directories carry greater weight in the eyes of potential clients than others. Stick to the ones that matter and have a consistent method of approaching and processing them.

How can LGC help? By guiding you through the directories maze so that you clearly understand those that matter most for your business and therefore deserve a real investment of time and effort by even the most senior members of your firm. LGC can help you maximise your participation in each of the submissions you invest in so that the value to your business of doing these becomes abundantly clear. 

Understand the process – Nowadays there is a lot of transparency from the legal directories as to what they are looking for and who is making research and editing decisions. To maximise the use of directories ensure you are fully armed with all the information available about submission methodology, preferred formats, research periods, the use of referees.

How can LGC help? By helping you gain thorough insight into the directory submission process and by providing handy hints, tips and tricks to ensure you provide all of the information required thereby increasing your chances of improving your submission.

Involve the right people –  The success of your submission relies heavily on having the right internal and external contacts involved. From selecting the right internal sponsor to lead and co-ordinate submission contributions to ensuring you have the right referees who are properly briefed, it is important to think through the key stakeholders needed for your directory submission. This is an area that is very often missed by even the most sophisticated of law firms.

How can LGC help? By advising in relation to the selection, briefing and follow up of reliable referees and by being an extra pair of eyes who can independently review your submission and help finesse the final document before you press send.

Many firms underestimate the value of involving a professional expert in the directory process. 

Lareine Gold Consulting has a wealth of knowledge and insight into how to maximise the directory process. From helping you navigate the various steps involved in directory submissions to helping you draft submissions and provide feedback to the directories on a ranking you are unhappy with, we are able to offer practical and actionable advice and assistance in dealing with legal directories. 

For more or to discuss how we can assist with your next round of directory submissions contact us - info@lareinegold.com

#goldstandard - LGC delivering the gold standard in directory submissions.

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