A Season of Ranks

This article was first published in the Lex Witness February 2018 issue.

The ranking season is knocking at the door again. Through this article, we are going to take a look at the importance of rankings and what to focus on while preparing the submissions.

The Crucial Aspect

Legal 500, a prominent ranking platform, states in their introductory statement – “The purpose of The Legal 500 is to help corporate counsel find the right advisors through our law firm rankings and editorial, which are free of charge to access on this site. Our rankings are based on feedback from 250,000 in-house peers and our access to law firm deals and confidential matters, which are independently assessed by our researchers.”

This basically makes it a large crowdsourced project of accumulating feedback and research based on client testimonials. Every firm feels differently about rankings, whether it be the ranking platforms, process or its effectiveness overall. However, it might not be so easy to just keep them at bay. Through this article, we will attempt to take an unbiased and critical look at the importance of ranking submissions, the elements to pay attention to, and the relevant platforms to seek.

Ranking Platforms

There are various publications and portals who have involved themselves in the ranking process in the recent years. The difference in the results are based on the methodologies, practice focuses and of course the researchers’ interpretations of the submissions and interviews.

Some undeniably important rankings that matter for Indian law firms include, but not limited to, Legal 500, Chambers & Partners, IFLR 1000, World Trademark Review, Asia IP, Managing IP and more.

The choices and the platform preferences depend on the nature of the law firm – full service or practice/industry specialized boutique.

Ranking Process Elements

As highlighted in one our earlier articles, the ranking process can be cumbersome. Following are the important aspects to keep in mind while making ranking submissions:

Quality Matters – pick only the cream of the crop matters. Whether it’s in terms of the value of the deal or the award enforced, or being a landmark judgment and/or setting ground breaking course in the business Inc., ensure that you include only the best of the matters your firm has handled through the year.

Presentation – a top notch submission can lack its luster if not presented in the ideal way. Do not write a saga about your work. Instead be crisp and concise and only highlight the most prominent elements like the gist of the matter, important parties involved, explanation on the importance of the matter, and of course the value involved.

Client Referees – this is probably one of the most crucial aspect of a ranking submission. Include client names and contact details in the referee sheet not just basis their ‘brand’ names, but most importantly basis their interest to respond when reached out to for feedback by the ranking platforms. Prior and post to submission, let your client referees know about the process and ensure follow through without being overpowering.

Interview – if the ranking platforms choose to interview you, be prepared to respond to tricky questions, which will not be limited to your practice alone, but more so about the industry in a holistic manner, including peer reviews.

The Highlights

Every year, the ranking platforms feature the core elements of what makes any firm great:

Featured Firm – this ranking features a firm’s effectiveness and prowess in the market. The number of deals handled, versus the value of matters, key judgements, practice management and growth, and of course, client servicing. This is a comprehensive ranking, featuring the firm performance along with client favorites.

Star Individual Lawyers – this element of the ranking features competitive lawyers, who have carved a niche within their leagues. These lawyers hold high valued books, and have premium clientele. They command respect in the industry, and certainly hold key roles at their parent firms.

Rising Stars – This lists key firm associates, who are recognised for their work as a supporting team member on major deals their firms have handled. Rising Stars are awarded to associates who consistently demonstrate an outstanding degree of technical and commercial expertise beyond that of their peers.

Outsource The Stress

Rankings are key to establishing the firm’s brand. In a highly competitive industry like this, law firms have to explore all avenues to stay ahead of the game. Especially in a globalized practice, firms should go through the process of rankings in order to ensure effective visibility amongst its peers, both domestic and global.

If you are on the fence about it, or find the process too cumbersome to handle it in-house, consult a branding specialist to review your options. It is always a smart decision to weigh out one’s choices before discarding.

A branding specialist can also help you through the process of submission, making the submission documents effectively packaged, to appeal the researchers. There is of course no harm in using the contacts and talent that a branding specialist can bring to the table, in order to ease the process for you.

I am the Principal Consultant at the Lex Witness Strategic Counsel Desk, an invitation based initiative, which caters to various entities who seek to create and improve their brand and undertake market activation strategies in the Indian legal market space. Much beyond the space of the magazine, the Strategic Counsel Desk aspires to provide a holistic framework for the firm’s positioning and business growth, primarily focusing on the strength in the Indian legal industry.

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