This year’s article on the ranking season will look at the need for ranking and the best practices while making submissions. Get geared for some trendsetting secrets to creating a success story for your firm this year.
The potential of India’s legal market liberalization, which will enable foreign firms to enter and practice in the Indian market, has been the major point of discussion over the last year. The government has increasingly encouraged reforms to initiate market liberalization, pushing talks with regulators and various government departments, including the Bar Council of India, to discuss legislation and draft rules. Most Indian law firms are optimistic that this will mean a better investment in the market and ensure a road to higher professionalism over time in India’s overall practice of law.
With this background, it is safe to say that law firms across India and internationally alike, will aim to step up their game to become more attractive in this highly competitive and dynamic market. Whether the intent is to stand out to prospective clients or to convey a good reputation to prospective strategic partners in the industry, law firms are now undertaking various branding and positioning initiatives to create a stronger foothold in the market. Rankings are one of them! Lawyer ranking agencies are already geared up for the same
VALUE OF RANKINGS
Law firm and lawyer ranking services are great for highlighting the strength of the firms and positioning it in a favourable light in comparison to its peers, whether in terms of specialization or the firm’s practice in general.
From an international law firm’s perspective, looking into Indian law firms as prospective strategic partners, law firm rankings can undoubtedly help in highlighting the following:
Specialization – an international firm, while exploring a partnership with an Indian counterpart, would ideally look for the most symbiotic relationships. Whether a full-service or a boutique firm is being explored, for international firms, it is important to identify prospective Indian partners who have practice specializations and are not just ‘jack of all trades, but masters of none.’
Strong Connects – international law firms will be more inclined to partner with firms who are entrenched in the industry and have solid connections with regulators, lawmakers, and other relevant industry partners. This will only help the foreign firms to gain a strong foothold in the market through their Indian counterparts versus treading the unsteady waters.
Professionalism – for an international firm interested in exploring Indian firms for prospective partnerships, it will be keener to consider firms open to changes that can benefit the overall partnership. Whether in terms of CLEs, technological advancement or having a sound reputation in terms of billing practice, rankings can help sort through the weed.
For the Indian jurisdiction, rankings are usually listed in the following categories:
Firm Rankings – A law firm’s ranking relates to a department of the firm, not to the firm as a whole. Law firm departments are ranked on the qualities of their lawyers and the matters/deals handled throughout the year. Also considered is the effectiveness and capability of the department as a whole – its strength and depth. A ranking will only apply to a law firm where the firm specializes in just one practice area.
Star Individual Lawyers – Individual lawyers are based on their legal knowledge and experience, ability, effectiveness, and client service in their specific practice areas. It is also possible that an individual lawyer can be ranked while their law firm is not. There are various categories within individual lawyer rankings. An Eminent Practitioner is a highly influential lawyer in a particular practice area who, due to managerial or client relationship commitments, is less active in fee-earning work but remains a crucial player in the team. However, a ‘Recognised Practitioner’ handles notable matters and has received some recommendations from peers and clients.
Rising Stars – This lists senior associates recognized for their work as supporting team members on significant deals their firms have handled. Rising Stars are awarded to associates who consistently demonstrate a remarkable degree of technical and commercial expertise beyond that of their peers.
RANKING PROCESS ELEMENTS
The ranking process can be cumbersome but at the same time engaging a lawyer ranking agency can be fruitful. The 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 setting a groundbreaking 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 lustre if not presented optimistically. 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 of the importance of the matter, and of course, the value involved.
Client Referees – this is probably one of the most crucial aspects of a ranking submission. Include client names and contact details in the referee sheet, not just the basis of their ‘brand’ names but, most importantly, the basis of their interest to respond when reached out to for feedback by the ranking platforms. Before 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 SMARTER APPROACH
One can’t stress enough the unavoidable need for branding and positioning initiatives in this market in order to establish a “brand” identity. With various experiences and preferences in place, it ultimately becomes a matter of personal choice and intellect on whether the firm considers a law firm’s rankings valuable. Considering advice of a lawyer ranking agency can be a smart move towards the brand growth of your firm. Law firm marketing strategies play a crucial role in growing your practice volume and establishing a strong brand presence in the legal industry.
But as any branding specialist in this industry, law firm rankings are unavoidable from an international perspective. If you are still deciding whether to handle it or find the process too cumbersome in-house, consult a lawyer ranking agency to review your options and avail lawyer ranking services. It is always an intelligent decision to weigh one’s choices before discarding them.
If you are looking for any support or guidance, your lawyer ranking agency cum lawyer brand agency is standing by to assist you! Feel free to reach out to us!
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.
This article was first published in the Lex Witness February 2017 issue.