Directory season is looming, but before we find ourselves knee-deep in referee spreadsheets and matter highlights once again, it is worth taking stock. Is there any way to make the process a little less of an ordeal? And more to the point why are we doing it in the first place?
Without doubt, submitting to the directories is a significant commitment. It requires a lot of time from busy marketing managers and clerks and also from time pressed barristers, who may question the benefit.
However, there are ways of streamlining the process and reducing the burden.
Implement a consistent approach and process across the set, ensuring that everyone involved is aware of what they need to do, why and when.
Allow plenty of time to contact referees and don't wait until two weeks before the submission deadline to start planning and drafting.
Careful and informed planning will reduce stress levels.
For other ways to manage the process have a look at our top tips - Get on the front foot for UK directories season.
If, however, you do find yourself up against the deadline for whatever reason, don't panic. Our directories team have produced submissions in as little as 24 hours, so it's always possible and we're on hand to help if you need it at any stage in the process.
But why do them in the first place?
Like it or not, the directories provide a credible, globally recognised assessment of the legal sector, which your clients, competitors and the media all look at. Good rankings can play an important role in your chambers marketing strategy. From publicising rankings on your website through to including them in marketing brochures, they can be a very useful way of validating leading expertise or breaking into new and emerging areas of practice. In some ways, this can be even more useful for barristers than solicitors, as Paul Martenstyn, deputy senior clerk at Fountain Court Chambers, noted in our 2017 white paper on the directories:
'Barristers are self-employed individuals so solicitor clients are often buying an individual brand as opposed to a law firm brand. So if a member of the bar has a great testimonial from the directories on how excellent their cross-examination skills are, that could give them an edge over some rivals, and especially now it's a more competitive market.'
The directories are also an important source of information for barristers and pupils looking to apply to your set.
However, whether chambers or law firm, it always makes commercial sense to question the benefit of marketing and business development activities. Participating in the directory process is no different.
We published our first legal directories white paper 'Legal directories: are they still relevant?' at the IBA conference in Sydney in October 2017. After an overwhelmingly positive response to the white paper, and after a year of change, including the buy-out of Chambers & Partners, changes in senior editors at The Legal 500 and the emergence of new directories, we have decided to produce a follow up white paper.
The paper will consider how the directories are changing and whether they are keeping pace with broader developments in the legal sector. We are also asking whether the directories are providing the right information in the right format and importantly, do they effectively cater for the Bar. Do the directories categorise practice areas in a way which makes sense not only for law firms but barristers chambers too? These are all questions which we are going to be getting to the bottom of.
Have your say on the directories by filling out our survey. If you would like to have a more in-depth discussion and would be interested in being quoted in the published paper, we would love to hear from you. Contact us and we will schedule a convenient time for a call.
The white paper will be launched at the IBA in Rome in October, contact us to request a copy of the paper. The MD Communications team will also be contributing to an IBA webinar on 11 September on the legal directories and leveraging a position from a ranking. The webinar is free to register.