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How to avoid disappointing results in the Legal 500 and Chambers Legal Directories

How to avoid disappointing results in Legal 500 and Chambers Legal Directories


When the Legal 500 and Chambers Directory Rankings are published many firms celebrate their rankings, but others will be disappointed.

ILFS has helped firms in over 100 jurisdictions maximise their rankings in the Legal Directories since 2005.  Having worked with all the main Legal Directories we asked the Editors for feedback on why some firms don’t achieve the results they wanted. We have analysed those responses and here are the 12 top reasons given for disappointing rankings:   


Legal Directory Comment

1. Not enough references responded

By far the most frequent feedback received, particularly from Chambers, is that only a small percentage of referees responded. What is ‘enough’ varies depending on jurisdiction and practice area. This is why it is important to prepare your referees in advance to encourage their participation.

2. References didn’t know about the firm’s work in the practice area being researched

Volume of references is important, but not to the point where you put forward references that aren’t familiar with your work in the practice area. This can also weaken the stronger parts of your submission as the Legal Directories start to doubt your true depth of experience.

3. References gave negative feedback

Relatively rare but damaging if it happens. You need to really think carefully about who you put forward as referees and ensure they are happy with your service.

Feedback about Work Highlights (WH):


4. Not enough Work Highlights

What is enough varies depending on jurisdiction and practice area but the Directories usually provide guidelines as to the amount expected.

5. Work Highlights too old

All WH should have been worked on in the past 12 months and the date should be included.  This can include WHs from the previous year’s submission but do so with caution and update the description.

6. Not clear from the descriptions why the WH were highlights!

Lots of WHs don’t do themselves justice. It may have been a very important matter – but you have got to explain why to the researcher. Values are important.

7. Work didn’t relate to the practice area being researched

Sometimes this is clear. On others it is more blurred e.g. is all work for a bank, banking work?

8. Work not comparable to other firms that are ranked

Mostly relates to deal value

9. Work very limited in scope

E.g. you are making a submission in IP and every WH is a trademark renewal.



10. Submission/references received after the deadline and they didn’t have sufficient time to research them

Biggest error firms make here is that they underestimate the time it takes to produce a submission – particularly if you are going to get input from other members of the firm.

11. No track record

Quite often this feedback is received when a firm submits for the first time. Is quite positive as indicates firm/individual is quite likely to be ranked next time round.

12. Lack of recognition from other firms

Generally something you can’t influence although building relationships with your peers at industry events etc can help. Is rarely given as the only reason.


To look at some of these issues surrounding Legal Directories in more depth please see: ILFS_Directory_Rankings_Significant_Steps. We also have a series of detailed notes for clients on most of the above issues. 

International Law Firm Solutions (ILFS) has helped law firms in over 100 jurisdictions with their Legal Directory submissions.

If you would like to discuss how we can maximise your performance in Legal Directories and make the whole process less of a hassle for you, and more effective for your firm please contact:

Alex Holtum T: +44 (0)7769 640959 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact us on +44 0203 488 3638

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