It’s that time of year again! Submission dates for various practice areas and states for Chambers USA are due in the Fall, and Knapp Marketing gets many inquiries from law firms asking for guidance in the process. For firms new to the Chambers process, we help not only with the submission itself but with creating an infrastructure to make matter descriptions and referees easy to find on demand and simple to access in the future. The following six tips address common problems that trip up firms who are new to Chambers.
New to Chambers?
For firms who have never submitted before, it can be time consuming to collect and document the past year’s relevant case studies and possible referees which are necessary to create a successful Chambers submission. Investing time and resources into this process sooner rather than later is worthwhile, as it lays the groundwork for future and other submissions. It also establishes consistent and compelling messaging for the firm which can be utilized in marketing and business development materials throughout the year, from RFPs to brochures and “one-pagers” that an attorney can leave behind after meeting with a prospect or speaking on a panel.
For those who aren’t prepared or are new to the process, we suggest that you:
- Assign one individual per practice group to “own” the submission. This can be either a marketing person or an attorney who will be in charge of making sure everyone meets their deadlines and responds to requests for information. This also addresses the problem of multiple drafts which can happen when working on a submission with numerous authors.
2. Don’t try to do it all at once
- Identify one or two key partners to highlight this year and focus the submission on them: choose referees who can address their capabilities, and matters on which they worked.
3. Stick to Chambers’ criteria
- Collect case studies based on Chambers’ criteria such as matter value, is it cross-border, high profile of client, and significance of legal findings or questions.
4. Choose referees with care
- Approach references who will not only speak highly of your firm, but who are accessible enough to respond to inquiries from Chambers. The CEO of a big corporation may love your work but may not have the time to respond to an email from Chambers, or to schedule a call with their UK-based researchers. And remember that every client communication is a relationship development opportunity; when you reach out to ask for a client’s referral, make the most of the opportunity!
5. Create a track record system
- If you don’t already have it, establish an internal system where attorneys track their matters in a format which can be useable for Chambers and other marketing efforts. Upon opening a matter, an internal document should be created naming the attorneys and opposing counsel, and describing the legal issue in plain English. These track records should be periodically updated throughout the year with relevant information such as motions, settlements, and decisions (plus any press mentions).
6. Manage expectations
- Chambers is a long haul game: you may not achieve the rankings you desire the first time you submit. Chambers watches firms grow over time, and your first submission is often the first time Chambers has even heard of your firm. In the tradition of walking before you run, you should aim for state level recognition before national, if the option exists in your practice area.
Some firms have over time demonstrated tremendous success with Chambers, with 15% or more of their attorneys ranked. Read an analysis of what makes them so successful here.