A question we’ve been asked a lot over the past few weeks is, “how do we suggest to Chambers that they should add a new ranking table in state X/practice area X?”. As Chambers USA is gearing up for its 2018 research cycle (yes, we can hear the screams of joy/pain from here), it’s a good time to lay out a few guidelines. Please get in touch if you’d like further advice – we’d love to help.
The key things when proposing new categories is that (1) you don’t appear purely self-serving, and (2) you convey how this will be a useful resource for corporate counsel (Chambers‘ primary intended readership). An expansion of those considerations is below – we’ve used a hypothetical Texas Leisure & Hospitality table as an example throughout.
Process: Send a one or two-page proposal (no more than that – as ever, the more concise the better) to the relevant Chambers editor, explaining why the addition of a new category makes sense based on the criteria below.
Timing: Ideally before the research cycle starts, so the editors have time to consider the proposal and work it into their deadlines if they decide to go ahead. Given the current USA research cycle is essentially underway, the sooner the better.
1. Why would CLIENTS find a separate table for Texas Leisure & Hospitality useful?
Note CAPS above: remember that Chambers writes predominantly for corporate counsel, not for law firms. The tables therefore need to be useful for corporate counsel first and foremost.
Things to consider might be – why do clients need specific advice in Texas Leisure & Hospitality? For example, does Texas have a distinct set of regulations surrounding the leisure & hospitality industry that make specializing in that state essential for doing deals there, as opposed to simply having a strong nationwide Leisure & Hospitality practice?
2. Is the Texas Leisure & Hospitality market big enough?
Chambers will be reluctant to add a table where the niche is so small as to be insignificant. Do you have stats that show overall year-on-year deal volumes? The type of clients doing deals in the area?
Your aim should be to show Chambers, “look, here’s this multibillion-dollar industry in this jurisdiction, deals are numerous, complex and sizeable, involving major corporates/banks, and you’re missing it”.
3. Is there a distinct and sizeable group of firms that would comprise this table?
Obviously a firm is unlikely to suggest an additional table in an area where the firm has no chance of being ranked. But Chambers will take a dim view of a firm that says, “we think you should add a new Texas Leisure & Hospitality category – oh, and by the way, we are basically the only law firm that operates in this space – we’re so great that nobody else gets a look-in”. That’s not going to get you anywhere.
You need to prove, ideally through hard evidence (league tables could be one obvious way, though there are many more), that there’s a group of firms – I’d suggest at least 5 – competing for a significant amount of high-end work, who are all known as leaders in the area among clients, who all have partner-level expertise based in that jurisdiction, who all represent major players in the market, and who all play lead roles on major matters each year.
4. Consider a joint proposal
The most effective way of not being self-serving is to do a joint proposal with other firms in the market that might have a stake in this table. Even better, team up with amenable corporate counsel who can reinforce the message to Chambers that Texas Leisure & Hospitality is a notable omission from Chambers‘ coverage that should be rectified.
If there are a couple of specialist firms who ONLY do this type of work and who are therefore missing out on the chance of a Chambers ranking altogether (because of a lack of an appropriate table), think about approaching them too. More ranked firms theoretically means more potential sales targets for Chambers, so you’re appealing to the business case too (call me cynical, but it’s still a valid consideration I think).