At first glance, legal directories capture the best of the legal practitioners in the field as a resource for both prospective clients and counsel alike. But they are also an excellent method of staying updated with legal market and societal trends.
Legal directories consistently update and expand the scope of their guides to reflect industry changes. Many of the guides have also revised their research methodologies to produce a fairer and more equitable submissions process for applicants. This is how legal directories have stayed relevant throughout the previous century and why legal professionals and prospective clients continue to return to them.
Alex Cowlishaw, Senior Consultant at Kidd Aitken, explains how lawyers can leverage legal directories for additional benefits, for both themselves and their firm.
Which legal market trends have made their mark in legal directories?
ESG: Environment, Social and Governance
ESG was a critical theme of 2021 and will only become more important throughout 2022 and beyond. In the legal sector, the role of lawyers has already shifted accordingly. Certainly, for in-house corporate lawyers. While still offering traditional advice to businesses on policy and regulatory issues, they must now offer guidance on additional matters such as ESG strategy and implications, renewable projects, energy schemes and more.
This shift has also been experienced in private practice. Aware of the growth of ESG and climate-related case matters, law firms are shifting into ESG specialisms and expanding their role in these areas. Contributing to the conversation, becoming intergovernmental advisors with non-profit organisations, and supporting environmental activists and changemakers with legal guidance and support.
The expansion of the sector has swiftly been recognised by the legal directories themselves. The Legal 500 recently launched their new Global Green Guide hub and the inaugural upcoming EMEA Green Guide, the first of its kind in the legal industry. Not only will the guide report on law firms whose practice groups and individuals have expertise but also on law firms’ internal initiatives, by highlighting their ESG commitments and plans to reduce their carbon impact.
FinTech’s emergence into our lives has continued at pace over the last decade and will only continue to grow as an industry. As such, in 2017, Chambers recognised the need to facilitate this increasingly important subject matter with the release of the first Chambers and Partners FinTech guide. It covers categories such as Blockchain and Cryptocurrency, Payments, Securities and Financing and more, in the interest of differentiating these high-tech case matters from the more traditional financial coverage of other Chambers guides.
The success of the guide was instantaneous. Indeed, the 2021 Chambers and Partners FinTech guide was their largest yet, ranking 995 firms and 393 individuals. We too have noticed the increasingly popularity of the guide. At Kidd Aitken, from the inaugural guide to its 2021 edition, we experienced a 300% increase in client FinTech submissions.
The way in which FinTech submissions are researched and rankings finalised differs significantly from the broader jurisdictional guides. As such, Kidd Aitken has recently published How to write a submission for the Chambers FinTech guide, with guidance and advice on how firms can optimise their FinTech submissions.
What is their significance?
With legal directories attempting to reflect the reality of the legal industry over the years, these developments show how society has become more environmentally conscious and technologically led. And given that these shifts are still in their infancy, we can expect these changes to only develop further.
Legal directories are quick to react to market trends and accommodate how these trends manifest in the legal sector. Ensuring that, no matter the subject, it will be covered in their directory rankings and instil confidence in the legal professionals who consult them that their guides are as up-to-date and reflective of current trends as possible.
What does this mean for lawyers?
Legal directories are a treasure trove of information for legal professionals. As a market research tool, they are second to none. Providing not just a comprehensive view of the jurisdiction or practice area in question, but the granular detail of each submitted work highlight by a firm or individual. Lawyers can stay up to date with the latest and most impactful cases in their field and learn how their area of expertise is developing.
From a business development perspective, this information is invaluable. Firms can take note of their main competitors in a practice area and the specialisms into which they can develop their offering. By doing so, this also has a knock-on effect on a firm’s recruitment and talent acquisition; trainee solicitors and law students frequent study legal directories in order to learn more about law firms with whom they may want a job or training contract.
What about those already ranked in highly specialised practice areas?
Ranking in a legal directory is a third-party endorsement of excellence and indicative of a practice group or individual’s position as a thought leader.
Legal directories are a window on the world. Cataloguing not just the top legal practitioners across both jurisdictions and practice areas but documenting industry trends too. By frequently consulting them, lawyers learn more about the areas of the legal market they could expand into and stay ahead of the game with sector updates.
If you would like to learn more about how legal directory rankings can benefit your law firm, get in touch.