The recent publication of the 2016 edition of The Legal 500 has been a cause of celebration for many lawyers. Quite rightly, law firms across the country have been quick to capitalise on their success by posting news of recommendations on social media and corporate websites.

But what about those firms or practice areas who failed to reach the rankings despite making detailed submissions? Given the amount of time spent collating information, they may well be wondering whether to bother again.

Having gone through the submissions process at both a magic circle firm and a London firm, my advice would be as follows:

  • Try again. It can take two to three years to achieve a ranking. Each year the research team will be more familiar with your firm and your practice area. My experience suggests that it is harder to fall out of the rankings completely then it is to get that first prized mention so it is worth persevering. Indeed, Legal 500 state that a firm’s historic track record, typically the past three to five years, is taken into account.
  • Follow the guidelines to the letter. For example, if the guidelines state no more than “10 pieces of work,” don’t include 20. This is a surprisingly common mistake which will irritate the research team. Often, less is more.
  • Don’t provide a generic submission. The two key UK legal directories have different criteria and guidelines.
  • Alexander Boyes, editor of the UK guide, tells me that Legal 500’s primarily consideration is the quality of the work included in the submission. Other factors, such as client interviews and team size, are only a secondary consideration. (Interestingly, this indicates that it should be feasible for a small team or a sole practitioner to make the grade providing their work is outstanding).
  • Avoid clichés such as innovative or ground breaking unless you can back them up.
  • Meet the deadline. If it becomes apparent that this isn’t possible, negotiate an extension.
  • Start a dialogue with the researchers as soon as possible.
  • Client referees – Legal 500 tell me that the client response rate is only 20% so in this case more probably is more assuming you are confident that the references will be positive.

One final point. The research team are happy provide detailed feedback so do contact them on editorial@legal500.com. Good luck for next year!