For most of us, summer signals the return of barbecues, backyard games and lazy evenings outdoors. But for legal marketers, it also signals the beginning of the Chambers submission season.
The fun begins in mid-April, when research schedules are released. New Chambers rankings are then announced in late May and are followed closely by the first round of deadlines in early June. From June through November, Chambers law firm ranking submissions are generally due during the first three days of each month.
Completing a Chambers submission is like playing a game of croquet. It can be a little tricky, but if you keep your eye on the wicket, score six hoops and hit the peg, victory is yours. Here are the hoops to get through.
Hoop 1 – Managing Expectations
There is a reason that Chambers rankings are coveted – they are not easily won. The submission process is daunting, the researchers do their homework and there is a lot of competition. Law firms should look at achieving a Chambers ranking as a multiyear endeavor. If the firm has not been ranked in the past, sometimes the first year’s goal is just to get on the Chambers radar. That is not to say attorneys don’t get ranked the first year, as it does happen, but setting reasonable expectations internally helps everyone in the end.
Hoop 2 – Project Management
Taking time to develop a plan for your submission will alleviate a lot of headaches down the road. Setting deadlines for referees, interviews, writing, reviews and comments is crucial. Once you’ve laid out the plan, make sure everyone involved in the process is aware of it and knows which pieces are their responsibility.
Hoop 3 – Identifying Referees
While having the general counsel of a Fortune 100 company for a referee is impressive, it may not help you garner the ranking the attorney deserves. An important question to ask when selecting a referee is, “Will they respond to a Chambers request for an interview?” If the answer is “no,” then you should move on. The best referees are those who are more accessible, have a deep knowledge of the attorney’s work, are willing to take time for the interview and are tied to the matters submitted. Yes, they may be a few levels down from the GC, but if they can and will take the time to give a glowing referral, they are the right person. And always make sure to confirm a referee’s willingness to speak on the firm’s or attorney’s behalf.
Hoop 4 – Submit for the Right Practice Area
This seems straightforward. Your firm is known for its work in sports law, so you should submit in sports law. Not necessarily! At the national level, Chambers ranks sports law firms, but what if Chambers does not rank sports law firms in your market? Now what? You need to look at the practice area definition to see if your work aligns with another practice area locally. It is crucial that legal marketers take the time to understand how Chambers defines the practice area and clearly communicate that back to the firm. If you’re still not sure, Chamber researchers are always happy to help.
Hoop 5 – Adhere to the Form
Chambers allows for one page per matter. Legal marketers must tread lightly here, walking the line between pitching the firm and providing the researchers with the information they need. Take pity on the researchers. They read thousands of submissions and are looking to understand what sets your firm apart. As with all aspects of legal marketing, content is king. Keep matters short; tell them only what they need to know. Who is the client? Why is the client or matter important? What did the team do for the client? What was the outcome? They don’t need to understand the details to understand the impact the firm had.
Hoop 6 – Proof
Chambers is the king of legal rankings and, as we all know, lawyers emphasize dotting their “I”s and crossing their “T”s. Submitting a Chambers ranking is no different. The quality of your copy reflects the quality of your firm and its attorneys. Pass the submission by a professional proofreader, preferably someone familiar with the nuances of legalese. Barring this, at the very least, pass the submission by a trusted colleague who has not yet seen the copy. You want to make sure your proofer is someone who has not been heavily involved in the submission process to ensure you get the benefit of a fresh set of eyes.
The Peg – Hit Submit
It is imperative to submit the referees and submission form on time. Chambers has to schedule thousands of interviews, and you want to make sure your referees are included.
And you’ve done it! It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a summer beverage. Completing a Chambers submission can be an arduous process, but with these tips, it doesn’t have to keep you from your summer fun.
If you’d like help with your legal rankings, email me, Susan Holmes, at firstname.lastname@example.org.