It almost goes without saying: internal coordination and project management should form a central part of any business development or marketing activity. The same rings true for law firms when approaching the legal directory submissions process – and is especially important for firms looking to scale up their submissions or for larger firms with an already substantial investment in legal directory rankings.
However, the workloads and time pressures that many lawyers face – and the demands of other projects on legal marketing professionals – means that pulling all of the details needed to maximise not just one impactful submission but an entire year’s worth can prove to be an especially demanding undertaking for law firms.
Richard Winter, Senior Legal Directory Specialist at Kidd Aitken, shares his insights into how firms can optimise and more effectively manage the legal directory submissions process. Making it less stressful and more efficient for all stakeholders.
How firms benefit from project management
Compiling legal directory submissions requires a significant amount of input and a variety of information from different stakeholders. Implementing a coordinated approach and centralised project management techniques can save law firms and their in-house marketing teams time and stress – and, more importantly, create the best submission possible – when approaching a legal directory submission deadline.
The ongoing involvement and buy-in of law firm partners is without a doubt imperative to the success of a legal directory submission and getting ranked. But many Partners juggle large workloads and tight client deadlines. Understandably, legal directory submissions often fall down the priority list when client work becomes urgent. Getting hold of lawyers for long enough to contribute to a submission can be difficult. When this occurs, firms struggle to allocate the time and attention necessary to maximise the legal directory submissions process. And as a result, their ranking chances often suffer.
This also applies to in-house marketing teams whose workload encompasses additional marketing or business development projects. Putting in place a coordinated business plan and centralised project management helps free up the capacity of these teams and allows them to direct their attention to other activities.
Compiling all the necessary information to create an effective legal directory submission is one of the most time-consuming parts of the submission process. Collating the team’s most impressive work highlights. Choosing the best and most responsive referees. Crafting effective narratives for your practice overviews and lawyer bios. Sourcing all of the latest information from lawyers and other key stakeholders. All this takes up a huge amount of time. Organising it all in advance, where it can be accessed quickly and easily, and ensuring that a cohesive approach is agreed upon, improves the efficiency of and smoothes the process.
Strategising for legal directory submissions
Project management techniques are useful for two areas of the legal directory submissions process: managing the information required for an effective submission and coordinating with stakeholders. It cuts down the time spent unnecessarily chasing, compiling and communicating – when time is already in short supply!
But first, putting in place short-, medium- and long-term strategies for legal directory submissions is paramount. In the short term, it helps firms understand their limitations of what can be achieved over one research cycle and helps best manage resources before beginning the process.
A long-term strategy informs decisions early-on in the process, allowing firms to continuously evaluate if their choice of submission, partners and practice area aligns with future goals. It also helps firms take advantage of Chambers’ cumulative research process, should Chambers be a target directory. Our Best Practice Guide to Chambers and Partners Submissions goes into more detail on how firms can best strategise for their legal directory submissions. Within these strategies, setting SMART goals makes certain that all project stakeholders are aware of the objectives they are working towards.
A legal directory submission is nothing without the information it contains. And due to the breadth of material required, it takes a lot of time to source it from multiple departments and stakeholders.
Firms who catalogue information about case work and highlights throughout the year, even before the research cycle has begun, are able to access it immediately. Without chasing Partners and becoming stressed with looming submissions deadlines. It saves headaches for all involved! Having up-to-date and signed-off matter summaries on hand also allows firms to utilise details quickly for other marketing and business development activities throughout the year.
Managing stakeholders by setting early internal deadlines and assigning project leads enables firms to ensure that resources are correctly allocated to tackling the submissions themselves rather than chasing information.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that lawyers’ time is precious. Managing stakeholders frees them up and reduces pressure internally. Setting internal deadlines, far ahead of the fixed external deadlines, allows for greater flexibility when lawyers need to prioritise urgent client work.
Similarly, assigning a project lead on both sides of the process saves time and streamlines communication between parties. When submitting to legal directories, appoint at least one ‘representative’ from the marketing team and one or two key Partners to be the head of each team of lawyers. Lawyers can discuss strategy and messaging between themselves before finalising with the marketing project lead. This cohesive approach cuts down on back-and-forth communication and saves time when changing direction or approaches further into the project.
The legal directory submission process is known to be resource intensive on in-house marketing teams and lawyers alike. But plans can be put in place to reduce stress, miscommunication and time pressure for all stakeholders. Not only does this benefit the current or upcoming submissions cycle a firm might be preparing for but also increases buy-in and participation from the parties involved. Creating a much smoother and pain-free legal directory submissions process for all involved.
Get in touch to see how Kidd Aitken could help your firm integrate these techniques or strategise for your legal directory submissions.