Whether it’s an in-house discussion or one arranged and conducted with the support of legal directory consultants, the strategy meeting is a crucial first step for any legal directory submission process.
This is the firing pistol, the starting point, where objectives — and strategies to meet them — are suggested, challenged, fine-tuned, then turned from pencil to pen into a final plan of action.
Strategy meetings are when working with legal directory consultants may come into play. Their impartiality and the time they commit to researching your firm, not to mention their in-depth knowledge of how legal directories work, means they can provide both realistic objectives for your firm and match the legal directory process.
In this blog post, we look at what should be covered in your legal directory submission strategy meeting, as well as who should be in the room.
When booking the strategy meeting for your legal directory submission, the first — possibly unexpected — hurdle is asking: who needs to be in the room?
First, find out what the relevant Partner or department head wants to achieve. An obvious objective may be getting ranked or improving an existing ranking. Then, once your Partner or department head has been added to the top of the invite list, consider which lawyers they think should be highlighted for this particular directory — not just senior lawyers, but also the ‘rising stars’ within the department.
This is something we would advise in the context of legal award submissions, too — most recently, this was discussed in Your Complete Guide to Legal Awards. Extending the invite to relevant seniors in the team, as well as juniors, who have been involved in important cases within the last year will show a breadth of talent in the final submission.
Finally, the business development team can offer their thoughts on how the directory submission aligns with the firm's overall marketing and business development goals. They should provide insights into the submission’s strategic importance, potential target clients to follow-up with, and how the firm's strengths can be most effectively showcased. This holistic approach ensures that the strategy meeting encompasses not only legal expertise but also broader business perspectives, resulting in a well-rounded and impactful directory submission.
Despite the broad variety of legal directories you could submit your law firm to, there are some key questions to be asking everyone in the room, every time.
• What qualities, skills, and specific work types do you want to be known for?
• Which lawyers do you really want to highlight in this legal directory submission?
• What has changed for the better since your last submission?
• Which case studies help demonstrate responses to the above most effectively?
When looking through work highlights to include in your legal submission, prioritise those that support the overall objectives set by the department head and business development team. For example, if the intention is to earn a reputation for dealing with high-value or notably complex cases, this should be reflected in your selection of case studies. Once decided, gather all the relevant matter details from the lawyers involved.
Don’t just confirm the steps they took to manage the case. Researchers will want to know what was notable — specifically: what you helped the client to achieve, and who your opponents (and their lawyers) were.
Last year’s legal directory submissions and rankings.
Some essential pre-meeting reading: your past submissions. This is particularly the case if you’ve submitted to directories several times before, but not achieved the rankings you believe you deserve. Study past submissions, where certain sections may not have had their criteria met, and think about new, creative case studies (whether they’re entirely new, or ready to be dusted off) that may help your submission stand out in future.
New starters and promotions.
As legal directories are well-known to those within the legal sector, they can also help build a stronger relationship and better reputation with another important group: your staff and potential future colleagues. Ambitious lawyers often want to progress to work for the best-regarded firms in their practice area, and legal directory successes show them which firms to aspire to. By including both ranked lawyers and ‘rising stars’ in your strategy meeting — people who have made notable progress in your company — you demonstrate to potential recruits that you offer great opportunities for lawyers to progress and raise their profile.
Remember your legal directory deadlines.
As your submission takes shape, it’s likely you will have spoken to multiple contacts and lawyers within the business, with tasks assigned across the board — this is the point when the logistical complexity of the project starts to build. It’s vital you provide clear, reasonable deadlines with reminders (and a cushion for missed deadlines) built into the process, and to keep this work near the front of a busy lawyer’s mind.
Effective strategy meetings are, put simply, the best possible setup for a successful legal directory application process — and directories are essential tools in your legal marketing toolkit.
Whether you work with a legal directory consultancy or create your own submissions, the first step should always be to agree on a clear strategy — whatever its condition, it will have a knock-on effect throughout the rest of the project, so it’s crucial to get it right. To stand the best chance of ranking well, be sure to craft your entries with care, consideration of the complex criteria, and meeting directory deadlines in mind — not to mention time booked in the right people’s calendars.
So, the big question: should you outsource your legal directory submission?
Legal directory consultancies, like Kidd Aitken Legal Marketing, bring two important skills to the strategy meeting table (and beyond):
1. We know how directory editors think, what they look for, and what helps you stand out, thanks to the in-depth experience of our staff in previous roles as editors and researchers with Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500. This means incomparable insight.
2. We also have the right degree of separation from your law firm — you have the greatest knowledge, but you may be closer than you realise and lose sight of what could make your firm, lawyers, or work highlights stand out to a researcher or editor. We, on the other hand, can ask challenging questions to unearth those features.