When I started working with legal rankings eight years ago, there were approximately 650 rankings and awards for attorneys and law firms. That number has ballooned to well over 1,200. (This number does not include the pay-to-play “surveys” that are popping up with regularity.)

From the attorneys’ viewpoint, legal rankings require little more than talking about their work. Legal marketers know better. This is a growing industry and, judging by the surveys that came across my desk this month, it is not slowing down. What was once a manageable endeavor for a law firm marketing staff is getting out of control.

I am constantly asked, “Is this ranking worth it?” “Should we nominate for this award?” “What about the survey I received for the ‘The Lawyers List Not to Miss?’” I’m here to share a few steps that may help you tame the legal rankings beast.

  • Start with a solid business development plan. Understanding what the firm’s goals are this year and how rankings fit into those goals is key.
  • Determine which rankings are credible so you do not waste your time. To determine credibility, find out how a ranking is vetted.
  • Different attorney and law firm rankings serve different needs. A rankings plan is not cookie-cutter. What is right for firm A may not be right for firm B. Rankings serve to set a law firm apart and showcase where they excel. Consideration should be given to the firm’s goals. Are your goals to:
    • Attract lateral hires? Consider “Best Places to Work” or “Healthiest Employers” rankings.
    • Establish the firm’s bench strength? Consider “40 Under 40” and “Rising Star” rankings. These rankings recognize up-and-comers in the industry and increase visibility for younger members of the firm.
    • Bring in new clients? Seek out the well-researched, well-respected lists. There is a reason Chambers and Legal 500 are highly sought-after rankings – but there are others that should not be neglected, including many industry-specific rankings that will catch potential clients’ eyes.
  • Consider why the ranking is important to an attorney. This is an opportunity to be recognized publicly for a job well done and to feel good about the work they did.
  • Repurpose information used to complete nominations. Ranking nominations contain a wealth of information that can be repurposed for a multitude of uses. Within this submission is information that can help the firm position and cross-sell its services. “The Silver Lining of Writing Chambers Submissions” provides additional information about repurposing your legal ranking submission.
  • Do not participate in pay-to-play. If you are asked to pay to be listed, it is not a ranking. By participating in these surveys/directories, you are lending credibility to them.

By following these easy steps, you can tame the rankings beast. If you would like help with developing a strategy for and coordinating legal rankings at your firm, contact Susan Holmes at sholmes@jaffepr.com.