Rankings – The Power Playbook for Lawyers & Firms

RANKINGS – WHY SHOULD YOU BE BOTHERED AT ALL?

Law firm rankings and recognitions are evaluations and accolades given to law firms by various independent organizations and publications. These rankings and recognitions assess and highlight the performance, reputation, and expertise of law firms in various legal fields and geographies. They serve as a benchmark for quality and are an important tool for clients looking to hire legal services.

In the highly competitive legal industry, standing out is as crucial as it is challenging. While deep expertise and robust client relationships form the core of a law firm’s value, the external recognition through rankings and awards plays a pivotal role in elevating a firm’s status. Rankings and recognitions in the legal industry are not mere trophies; they are powerful influencers of credibility, client trust, business development, brand value, and market share. Clients often equate these recognitions with high-quality service, expertise, and reliability, enhancing the trust factor. They form a key part of a successful law firm marketing strategy, by attracting high-profile clients and high-value cases.

It is essential to distinguish between rankings, awards, and lists. Rankings, especially by esteemed platforms like ALBs, RSG, and others, are often based on rigorous evaluation criteria, including firm performance, client feedback, and market analysis. They differ from awards and lists, which might focus on specific achievements or qualities. This distinction is crucial for law firms to understand as they tailor their strategies to target these different forms of recognition.

At the dawn of the 2024 ranking season, this article discusses formidable strategic pillars to form a tailored approach for getting your boutique and growing law firm ranked.

WHICH RANKINGS SHOULD YOU PURSUE?

Just like your legal strategy differs from case to case so as to target the best outcomes, it is important to take a tailored approach to rankings and recognitions as well. Depending upon your law firm’s history and your professional expertise, you must look at different ranking platforms. Here’s why.

Reaching the ‘Right’ People
Rankings and awards are not just accolades; they are also powerful engagement tools. Targeting the appropriate rankings can directly speak to your desired audience. Whether it’s potential clients, industry peers, or future employees, these recognitions resonate with different segments, creating a wider appeal for your firm.

You can also choose the specific industry and geography you want to target. If your focus is energy laws pursuing rankings like Chambers & Partners Project, Infrastructure & Energy category, or Legal500’s Projects and Energy category, will help you get attention from the right industry players.

Additionally, you can choose which rankings to go for depending upon your law firm’s global expansion goals. Platforms like Chambers & Partners are highly regarded in the Western part of the world, but the APAC region places greater importance on asialaw, IFLR and Benchmark Litigation.

Be Wise with Your Resources
Pursuing every available ranking and award is not a feasible strategy. Rankings need substantial financial resources and manhours. So, a selective approach, focusing on the most relevant and prestigious recognitions, ensures that your firm’s resources are utilised effectively, maximizing the return on investment of your efforts.

Position Your Firm in the Best Light
Just as effective marketing strategies place law firms on the right track, targeted rankings and awards can strategically position your brand in the legal industry. Rankings and recognitions act as a testament to your firm’s mettle and showcase the work your firm has undertaken in a particular practice area. They help define your firm’s expertise and build its USP.

Be Ahead of Your Competition
In an industry where differentiation is key, rankings and awards provide a competitive edge. Most multinationals and global law firms refer to rankings and recognitions when deciding which law firm to engage with – they typically require a firm to be ranked in at least one well-recognised platform for the relevant practice area. Therefore, building a strategy in line with your firm’s growth and expansion goals becomes very important.

Future-Proofing for Upcoming Industry Trends
The Indian legal industry is evolving very rapidly. Anticipating and adapting to future trends in rankings can ensure your firm remains ahead of the curve. Law firms must be agile in responding to evolving criteria and metrics used in rankings and recognitions. For instance, a lot of ranking platforms now ask you how are you using technology in your law firm to enhance client experience. If your firm is stuck in the ‘everything on paper’ era, use this as a wakeup call to embrace LegalTech.

TIPS FOR BOUTIQUE FIRM RANKINGS

Rankings and recognitions can be a game-changer for boutique and specialized law firms. Such law firms need to showcase their niche dominance, illustrate deep specialisation, offer cutting-edge solutions and have a client-centric approach. Here are some invaluable tips to help you get ranked:

Focus on Niched Rankings
As a boutique and growing law firm, the first rule you should adhere to is focusing on ranking platforms that cater to your niche. It is your deep specialisation into a practice area that distinguishes in the legal industry. To leverage your specialisation to the fullest, you have to highlight the same in as many ways as possible. This way your law firm will be positioned as the go-to firm for your specialisation.

IP-specialised firms should focus on getting featured rankings like WTR1000, AsiaIP, IAM Patent 1000, and more. Dispute-focused law firms can consider platforms like Benchmark Litigation and Global Arbitration Review to be recognised for their expertise. If your law firm focuses on PE-VC, your ranking strategy must target Venture Intelligence, Pitchbook, etc. The list is practically endless!

Additionally, each specialisation has its own category/ sectional rankings and recognitions in bigger platforms like Chambers & Partners, Legal500, Who’s Who Legal, Asian Legal Business, asialaw, and more. A tailored ranking strategy will focus on leveraging your practice strengths by targeting a mix of specialised ranking platforms.

Play to Your Geographical Strengths
A lot of law firm ranking platforms provide city-specific ranking lists, recognizing the expertise and accomplishments of law firms based on their geographic presence within the country. These city-specific rankings are particularly useful for clients who are looking for legal services in a specific city or region.

The Legal500 Asia Pacific guide has sections for major Indian cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Chambers & Partners, Benchmark Litigation and IBLJ also have regional rankings. So, if you run a disputes law firm, focused primarily in New Delhi, you can choose to pursue a ranking in a city-specific section/ platform. Similarly, if your banking and finance practice serves clients across the country, tailor your ranking strategy towards national recognitions.

Quality Over Quantity
A smart ranking strategy focuses on quality of recognitions, as opposed to merely adding lists of recognitions that aren’t relevant. Properly submitting for and pursuing a ranking or recognition is a time and resource-intensive task. To ensure you get the maximum ROI, you have to take a focused approach and target only those ranking platforms which make the most sense for your law firm.

Another area whether you must prioritise quality is submission of matters in ranking/ recognition submission forms. Most platforms require you to submit details of the work your firm has undertaken in the past year or so. And typically, there’s a cap on the number of matters you can submit. Here, too, it is crucial to add matters and work highlights that reflect the quality of your firm’s work. Before adding a matter to the submission form, wait, and think – what is the broader sectoral or legal impact of the matter? What is its significance? This is a good way to tell if the matter has mettle.

It Doesn’t Start and End at Law
Gone are the days where your work spoke for itself. In addition to looking at your firm’s legal expertise, a lot of clients also consider the values your law firm reflects. Diversity & inclusivity and client-centricity are arguably the most important core values that make your law firm stronger from within. To ensure your potential clients are aware of the same, consider pursuing rankings like Chambers & Inclusion Awards, Legal 500’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Scorecard and Lexology’s Client Choice Awards.

THE 2024 RANKING SEASON IS HERE. ARE YOU READY?

Navigating the legal industry requires more than just legal prowess; it demands a strategic presence in rankings and recognitions. In this fiercely competitive sector, where every firm vies for the spotlight, the power of well-earned accolades in elevating a firm’s stature cannot be overstated.

As we stand on the cusp of a new ranking season, you have the opportunity to redefine your law firm’s path. To get yourself ranked, contact us today!

AUTHORS:

Pramita Sen is the Founder & Principal Strategist at WeYou Partners and an expert in brand strategy and positioning in the legal sector. Gazal Sancheti is a Brand Associate at WeYou Partners.

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