Being tasked with preparing a firm’s Chambers submissions is not considered the plum job in a law firm marketing department. First, the responsible party must convince umpteen busy attorneys to reflect on the past year, cull their most significant matters and summarize the content and importance of those matters into several paragraphs. Then the legal marketer must translate the matters into English. Because Chambers requires fresh matters, we don’t have the luxury of a four-month deadline to do the thinking, summarizing and sending: it’s more like 4 weeks.
Then comes the sprint to the finish line – get all of those submissions in good order and submitted by the deadline. The final challenge is finding out who did and didn’t get in, and trying to explain a decision you had no hand in, but ended up with all of the responsibility for.
If you have this job, then I have good news for you – you have got something no one else inside of a modern law firm today has: everything the firm needs to effectively position and cross sell their services across practice areas, industries and basically, the whole firm. You are likely one of the only people at the firm who has this broad understanding of what each group has been working on.
Our advice is to take the long view: Consider the types of work that the matters reflect – including industries, legal issues, trends, etc. – and make a note of them. Use this process of reducing and summarizing your matters to develop a stronger understanding of the practice group and, in particular, what types of matters the group considers to be the strongest.
Your observations and analysis, based on what you observe from Chambers can be used the following ways:
1. Individual Attorney Bios
- Abbreviate the Chambers matter descriptions to 3 sentences each and bullet 3 to 4 significant matters below the text on the attorney’s bio page.
- If you see a trend or a prevailing type of expertise from one attorney’s matters, rewrite the lead for their bio and tie that lead to current events or business issues in the news that exemplify that trend.
2. Practice Descriptions
- Freshen the matter references within the text of the PAD, or conclude the PAD with brief summaries of significant matters, as suggested above with bios.
- Look for commonalities within the significant matters that the firm has handled over the past year. Is there a particular industry or business problem that the firm seems particularly adept at serving or solving? Tell that story in a generic but very relevant case study or two.
3. Credentialing Opportunities
- Everyone loves a story or a case study. Any one of the resolved Chambers matters, sufficiently disguised if necessary, would provide the basis for an instructive and engaging story. Your attorneys might well be moving too fast to think it though, so write up brief titles and descriptions of potential articles that come to you from the matter descriptions, along with suggested media outlets who would publish them or blogs who would welcome the guest blog post.
- Look for themes or trends within the matters of one particular attorney. Draw out the insight, lesson or area of law that attorney seems to have focused on in the past year and suggest the title and content of an industry or ABA conference presentation that could be supported by the individual matters.
- Now is the time to sit back and think about all of the matters you have reviewed in the past several months. Think about the clients and their positions and interests. Without exception, every one one of you who prepared the Chambers submission are in possession of valuable cross-selling knowledge. No one else knows about them because no one else has had to spend the time learning everything you have. I don’t know what those synergies are, but I know for sure they are there. See if you can find them and share them with the right person.
5. Further your own career!
- You are in the enviable position of owning and understanding all of this data! Who else in the firm could possibly devote this much time and energy to understanding what so many other attorneys are doing? Much less understanding the significance and ‘ins and outs’ of the matters they consider noteworthy. Don’t waste this opportunity. If none of the suggestions above sound like they fit the culture of your firm then prepare a memo and send it to your immediate supervisor, your CMO, Director of Marketing, Managing Partner or your Practice Group Leader (as appropriate — be politically savvy). Share your observations and ideas. Be the person who is looking at the big picture — that’s what law firms need and respond to!
This post, co-authored by Amy Knapp and Aileen Hinsch, originally appeared on the Legal Watercooler Blog on June 7, 2012