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How we catapulted a US firm into the top tiers of legal directories

January 26, 2023

Daniel Kidd is one of the founding directors of Kidd Aitken and a former Chambers and Partners editor. He has been assisting clients with their legal directory submissions for over a decade. Daniel explains how Kidd Aitken helped a major US law firm reach the top tiers of legal directories.

“The importance of client feedback is often undervalued by firms. It’s an aspect that can make a world of difference in improving legal directory rankings.”

What were the needs of the law firm that needed to be addressed?

This client had been submitting to The Legal 500 and Chambers for many years. However, their rankings were not reflective of the experience and performance of their Partners. They were ranking low in both firm and individual rankings, even though they were a leading firm in a number of key practice areas: Capital Markets, Competition, Dispute Resolution, IP and M&A. The firm felt they faced difficulty in competing with other firms as they did not have an international network of offices. Many firms can feel this way. In our experience, we know that this is about positioning and highlighting how a firm provides cross-border services and the relationships that they have with other firms. We were brought onboard in 2017 to consult on their submissions and process, and set ourselves two targets. First, to raise their rankings across the board. For both the firm and the Partners’ individual standings. Our second target was for our client to be ranked in Band 1 for the newly established Life Sciences practice area, in which our client was a market leader.

What was the strategy you used to improve their legal directories submissions?

We implemented a number of initiatives to improve their submissions process. It was clear our client put a lot of work into their submissions but this was actually working against them. Legal directory researchers often don’t have the time to read and digest lengthy submissions. We worked with the internal marketing team to cut their submissions in half and make the messaging punchier. Each submission became much more focused on what the Chambers researchers would be interested to read and presented the information in a clear format. Small changes such as these can be immensely impactful when aiming for the top tiers of legal directories.

Daniel Kidd

We also advised the firm to reduce the number of Partners put forward for ranking. Some firms submit many lawyers in order to maximise their chance of being ranked. However, without sufficient evidence, this can result in the pitch being spread too thin, ultimately reducing everyone’s chances of getting ranked. Whilst it was a difficult conversation to have, we advised the firm to put forward only a select number of partners who had enough evidence to support them. The client’s previous levels of referee feedback were very low. We helped them select the most helpful clients to give the references. We managed this process for them and monitored the rates of feedback. In the end, we doubled the rates of feedback for a number of key practices. The importance of the client feedback process is often undervalued by firms. It’s an aspect of the entire process that we really highlight at Kidd Aitken because it can make a world of difference in improving legal directory rankings.

Did their legal directory rankings improve after implementing your guidance and advice?

We were proud to help our client gain their largest ever improvement in their rankings across three directories. Since we have been working with them, the firm has received six new Band 1 firm rankings, and 18 improved rankings. In individual guides, 54 partners in the firm have received improved rankings or were ranked for the first time. And yes, they reached Band 1 for the Life Sciences practice. However, reaching the top tiers of legal directories wasn't their only achievement. They also won the Firm of the Year award at the Chambers Annual Awards for their jurisdiction. These results were just the beginning of our relationship with this client. We’re now entering our fourth year of working together and are focusing on their long-term legal directories strategy. We’re excited to see what we can achieve together in the coming years.

Kidd Aitken is the world’s largest legal directories and awards consultancy. They believe that appearing in the top tiers of legal directory rankings is the best form of marketing any law firm can have. To date, they have worked with over 200 firms in their five years of operation. Their international team comprises former editors and researchers from Chambers, Legal 500 and other major legal directories who operate in both US and UK time zones. They undertake the entire legal directory submission process, significantly easing the burden on firms.

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