The legal “awards season” has reached the halfway point, and three Chambers USA submission deadlines have already passed. If you haven’t had the chance to organize your submissions, though, don’t despair; it might not be too late. Chambers USA still has three more deadlines — in October, November and December. If your jurisdiction or category deadline has already passed, Legal 500 just announced its submission deadline will be Nov. 25.

Attaining Chambers USA and Legal 500 recognitions can be vital to your firm’s credibility and help you build your practice by making you stand out from your competitors. One reason they carry so much weight is that they are highly competitive and have a very time-consuming and complicated submission process that helps ensure thorough vetting of firms. Sometimes this process deters firms from submitting or causes them to delay submissions until the following year, and sometimes firms choose not to submit at all.

Here are six tips to help you with those last-minute Chambers or upcoming Legal 500 submissions.

Pick your battles. If you are running short on time, assess your attorneys and practices honestly relative to the competition, and prioritize those submissions you think are most likely to be successful. “Stretch” goals are great, including submitting for attorneys and practice groups that are not yet ranked, and it is important to get on the radar of researchers, but at this point in the “season,” you need to focus.

Measure up. Review the rankings, and think about the best fit for your practice or attorneys. Then take a look at the editorial coverage of firms in those categories to gauge the degree of competition.

Choose wisely. The most important part of both Chambers and Legal 500 research is client references. Choose references whom you have worked with over the past 12 months and who can give a good overview of your work together. It is not necessary to pick the person with the highest title — it is best to pick the person who will respond to the email request for input or pick up the phone and give an honest review of your firm.

Focus on the work. If you are out of time and need to prioritize, focus on the matter details. Most firms end up regurgitating their website content when providing information about their attorneys. Researchers can look your attorneys up online and get all of this information. What they can’t do is get details about your firm’s newest and most-interesting client work, so focus on what makes that work stand out.

Don’t get lazy. You might have years (maybe even this year) when you think, “We are already ranked, so we can skip this year.” This is not so. We have all heard stories about firms that never do submissions and still always get ranked. That is not normal. Are you willing to risk missing out on an opportunity to be ranked? Keep in mind that Chambers USA weighs feedback and work over several years and makes rankings decisions accordingly. Skipping a year or two provides researchers with less information to make recommendations for inclusion or advancement in the tables. Legal 500 has a different approach — its researchers look at your latest work and feedback. If you skip a year with Legal 500, you are likely not to receive a ranking. For both rankings, building a strong submission that tells an impressive story is key to standing out from others. And don’t discount the value of the information you collect while drafting your submissions; it can be repurposed for other marketing and PR efforts.

Don’t give in to frustration. Don’t be discouraged if your submission doesn’t generate immediate results. For the most part, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Each award is different and the process to get an attorney or firm ranked is often a strategic, multi-year process.

Jaffe’s RankingsForLawyersTM Can Help

Jaffe’s rankings team understands the nuances of the rankings research process. We have developed relationships with researchers and editors that help clients better understand ranking criteria. If your firm or attorneys have goals for either Chambers USA or Legal 500, Jaffe can help you assess these goals and make recommendations for timelines and strategy. And if you are not getting the recognition you would like, we can help provide an objective analysis of your current or previous submissions, or take on the task of drafting submissions on your firm’s behalf.

Click on these links for more information about Chambers USA, Legal 500 and Jaffe’s Ranking Services. And if you need guidance or assistance with your Chambers or Legal 500 submissions, please reach out to me, Evyan O’Keefe, at, or call me at 347.213.7656.