The latest edition of The Legal 500 US is due to launch in May – the 29th, to be precise. For many of you, the release of the 2019 rankings will mark the culmination of an intensive process involving pulling together all the information necessary to make the best possible case for your firm’s ranking, and ensuring you put forward the right referees to maximise the feedback they provide on the relevant practice and its key lawyers. Seeing your firm appropriately ranked can make all the hard work and time invested in the process worthwhile; conversely, the disappointment of failing to achieve a ranking can lead to questions over whether it was all worth the effort.
Many firms will review the rankings, digest the results, and put them to one side until the research cycle rolls back around and the next submission deadlines loom. However, doing so means you are missing out on the possibility of obtaining some useful feedback direct from the editor’s mouth which can often provide some useful insight into which areas should be addressed when pulling together the next submission.
How to ask for feedback on the rankings
So, you’ve decided you want to reach out to The Legal 500 to ask for feedback on your rankings – how do you go about doing this? The Legal 500 has changed the process by which firms request feedback – instead of emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (which was the previous method), firms must now fill out a form which can be found at http://www.legal500.com/assets/pages/faqs. Clicking on the Rankings tab on the page will bring up a second set of options – clicking the tab titled “We are not happy with our rankings /lack of ranking, and would like information on how the rankings were calculated” will bring up a form to fill out.
Fill out the form and click the Submit Query button. Your query will then be stored in The Legal 500’s database to be addressed by the relevant editor. It’s worth bearing in mind that The Legal 500 receives a large volume of queries immediately following launch of the guide – typically queries are answered in chronological order of receipt, so it’s unlikely that you’ll hear back from the editor immediately. Don’t despair – The Legal 500 does make a point of answering all queries received. Bearing in mind the following tips will help to speed up the process and improve the quality of the feedback you receive.
Optimising your feedback request for maximum impact
As noted above, The Legal 500 receives a large volume of queries from firms. As with the submission process, being as focused as possible and clearly specifying what you are asking for feedback on and why will mean that the editor will be able to quickly ascertain why this request is being made and provide feedback that addresses that specific point. A generic email asking for feedback on all the firm’s rankings/submissions will most likely result in a perfunctory response from the editor. Here are some things to focus on when putting together your query:
1) Focus on specific practice areas– Make sure to request feedback on practice areas where you feel there is a genuine question as to the reason for the ranking/lack of inclusion. Look at the accompanying editorial for the relevant section and consider the following:
- How does your work stack up to the work described by ranked firms? If you are working on the same matters as those listed in the editorials of firms in Tier 1, but you are in a lower Tier/haven’t been ranked, then it’s worth querying the result and asking for feedback on where your submission fell down compared to those firms.
- Are there any quotes cited in your editorial? If the answer is no, then it’s likely that the researchers failed to receive feedback from your referees. Although referee feedback is secondary to the work evidence and track record in The Legal 500’s ranking methodology, referee feedback can tip the balance in making the case for a firm’s promotion or not, particularly where the work evidence and track records of firms are comparable.
- How does the size of your team compare to that of ranked firms? While this is a secondary factor, this may be taken into consideration when a researcher is considering including a firm for the first time. The editorial can often provide insight into the team size of ranked firms.
2) Provide fact-based evidence to support your query– If you feel that the firm’s submission provided a strong argument for a new ranking/promotion in the rankings, then providing a fact-based analysis of the areas in the submission that support that assertion will enable the editor to review those facts and respond accordingly. Be as constructive as possible when making your case – assertions that cannot be backed up by evidence will make the case less compelling in the editor’s eyes.
3) Ask for feedback on how the firm can improve their participation in the research process– The editor will be able to provide feedback on the referee feedback response rate, as well as raise any issues as to gaps in information that could be addressed in subsequent research cycles either by honing the messaging in your submission or by ensuring you have an interview with the researcher.
Best of luck to all of you, and remember – make sure to reach out to The Legal 500 post launch to make sure you’re getting the most out of the process.
My name is Alex Boyes and I am one of the directors at SavageNash Legal Communications. I’m a former editor at The Legal 500 and also worked at a large international law firm. Together, SavageNash Legal Communications has over 30 years’ directories-related experience, from both sides of the directories process. If you’d like more guidance on making submissions to Chambers or The Legal 500 in the next cycle, please do get in touch via our website.